THE POSTAL HISTORY OF ICAO

 

The first Sessions of the Assembly

 

Montreal - First Session of the Assembly

Delegates in the lobby of the Windsor Hotel, Montréal

The Assembly is the legislative body of the International Civil Aviation Organization and is therefore the principle and supreme governing body of the Organization. According to Article 48 a) of the Convention on International Civil Aviation, the Assembly shall meet not less than once in three years and shall be convened by the Council at a suitable time and place. An extraordinary meeting of the Assembly may be held at any time upon the call of the Council or at the request of not less than one-fifth of the total number of contracting States addressed to the Secretary General. Article 48 b) of the Convention reads as follows: “All contracting States shall have an equal right to be represented at the meetings of the Assembly and each contracting State shall be entitled to one vote”.

 

Guide Book for the Delegates attending in Geneva the Second Session of the Assembly

The Assembly elects a Council, currently made of 36 States, which is the executive body of the Organization. Until the 14th Session of the Assembly, which met in Rome in 1962, the Assembly met annually. At the Sessions of the Assembly, the complete work of the Organization in the technical, economic, legal and technical co-operation is reviewed in detail and guidance given to the other bodies of ICAO for their future work.

 

The original version of Article 48 a) provided that the Assembly shall meet annually; this was beneficial for the Organization since it brought together the contracting States at frequent intervals to permit them to be in control of the program, budget and activities of the Council. However, at the 8th Session of the Assembly held in Montreal from 1 to 14 June 1954, paragraph a) of Article 48 was amended (Resolution A8-1) to provide for triennial sessions of the Assembly; the main justification of this step were the cost of national delegations for attending the sessions and the cost for the Organization. This amendment came into force on 12 December 1956 and since 1959 the Assemblies meet only every three years, except for Extraordinary Assemblies.

 

Note that the PICAO Interim Assembly was held in Montréal from 21 May to 7 June 1946, that the eighth and last session of the Interim Council was held from 29 April to 7 May 1947, that the first Session of the ICAO Assembly was held in Montréal from 6 to 27 May 1947. Article 46 of the Interim Agreement on International Civil Aviation stated that the first meeting of the ICAO Assembly shall be summoned by the Interim Council of the Provisional Organization (PICAO), as soon as the Convention has come into force, to meet at a time and place to be decided by the Interim Council.

 

Regarding the meetings of the Assembly, Article II Section 1 of the Interim Agreement on International Civil Aviation stated that “the Assembly shall meet annually and shall be convened by the Council at a suitable time and place. Extraordinary meetings of the Assembly may be held at any time upon call of the Council or at the request of any ten member States of the Organization addressed to the Secretary General”. The first Session of PICAO’s Assembly (also named Interim Assembly) was held in Montreal from 21 May to 7 June 1946.

 

The text of Article 48 (a) of the Convention signed at Chicago on 7 December 1944 was quite similar to the one quoted here-above from the Interim Agreement. The first Session of ICAO Assembly was held in Montreal from 6 to 27 May 1947. An interesting subject rose immediately on the size of the sessions, as Resolution A1-21 resolved that the scope of the second Assembly should not in any way be restricted and that the number of Commissions proposed should be reduced to the minimum consistent with the number and nature of the items on the agenda, in view of the heavy burden placed upon the contracting States, the Council and the Secretariat by the preparations for and the holding of an annual Assembly which deals with the whole field of the Organization’s activities.

 

The second session in 1948 adopted resolution A2-2 instructing the Council to limit the agenda of the following session in 1949 to administrative and budgetary questions. Support quickly rose within the contracting States to limit the number of full Assemblies to once every three years, coinciding with the election of the new Council. Article 50 (a) of the Chicago Convention states that the Council Members are elected for a 3-year term. As a result, full scale sessions were held in 1950 (4th session) and in 1953 (7th session).

 

The 4th Session in 1950 adopted Resolution A4-6 which directed that plans should be made to hold major sessions every three years, in the same year as the election of Council Member States and that the two intervening sessions should be limited ones; it also resolved that limited sessions be held in Montreal and the full sessions every third year be staged at different locations; this resulted in reducing the costs of the Assembly to be defrayed by ICAO budget. The holding of limited sessions was deemed a success, as benefits were derived by ICAO for the preparation and by the member States which did not need to send a delegation to Montreal every year. It is important to note that no essential business of the Organization was seriously impaired or delayed or left undone because of the limited sessions.

 

It is to be noted that the capabilities of the International Aviation Building in terms of rooms were rather limited to accommodate the large increase in the number of contracting States (from 26 in March 1947 to 70 in 1957) and thus the number of delegates attending the Assemblies. Moreover, no provision had been made in the first permanent accommodations occupied in 1949 by ICAO (the International Aviation Building, located at 1080 University Street, at the corner of Dorchester – now Boulevard René-Lévesque) for a special conference room in which to hold the Assembly Sessions. Thus, the Council Chamber was used as Assembly Hall to stage limited sessions; any full scale session that could not be held away from Montreal was usually staged at the Windsor Hotel in Montreal.

 

The 7th session was the first full scale session held away from headquarters, i.e. in Brighton in 1953. Resolution A7-4 resolved that the Council be directed to ascertain views of the contracting States as to the desirability to amend the Chicago Convention regarding the frequency of the Assembly sessions. At the 8th session (with limited scope) held in Montreal in 1954, Resolution A8-1 was adopted amending Article 48 (a) of the Chicago Convention by substituting for the word “annually” the expression “not less than once in every three years”; the same Resolution specified forty-two as the number of contracting States upon whose ratification the amendment shall come into force. However, there was little hope of securing this number of ratifications quickly, so it was agreed to hold another limited session in 1955 (9th session).

 

Signed on 14 June 1954, the Protocol related to the frequency of the Assemblies came into force on 12 December 1956, so that the text of Article 48 (a) related to the frequency of the Assemblies read as follows:  “The Assembly shall meet not less than once in three years and shall be convened by the Council at a suitable time and place. Extraordinary meetings of the Assembly may be held at any time upon the call of the Council or at the request of any ten contracting States addressed to the Secretary General.”

 

The full scale 10th session was held in Caracas in mid-1956. Anticipating the coming into force of the Protocol related to the frequency of the Assembly sessions, Resolution A10-17 resolved that, for the forthcoming three-year term, the Council be requested to convene a major session in 1959 and another limited session either in 1957 or in 1958.

 

Thus, 1957 became the first year in which there was no Assembly session; the 11th limited session was held in Montreal in 1958. Starting in 1959 (with the 12th session), triennial sessions became the norm, although extraordinary sessions were staged to discuss important specific issues. Assembly Resolution A12-7 resolved that, for the forthcoming three-year term, the Council be requested to convene a full session in 1962 and, if considered appropriate, another session in 1960 or in 1961, the exact year to be determined by the Council. In fact, an extraordinary session was held in 1961 (13th session) to consider an increase in the size of the Council.

 

Session

Date

Place

Pin

1st

6 to 27 May 1947

Montreal, held at the Windsor Hotel

2nd

1 to 21 June 1948

Geneva, Switzerland, held at the Palais des Nations

 

3rd

7 to 20 June 1949

Montreal, held in the Sun Life Building

 

4th

30 May to 20 June 1950

Montreal, held in the International Aviation Building

5th

5 to 18 June 1951

Montreal, held in the International Aviation Building

 

6th

27 May to 12 June 1952

Montreal,  held in the International Aviation Building

 

 

The daily Journal distributed during the Assembly Sessions shows early designs of the ICAO emblem. Moreover, the pins that were distributed to the Delegates also provide helpful information on the dates of utilization of these emblems. The history of these designs is provided in another chapter (See “ICAO Early Emblems”).

 

Session

Heading of the Assembly Journal

1st

 

 

2nd

 

3rd

 

4th

 

5th

 

6th

 

 

Montreal - First Session of the Assembly – Date of cancel: 6 May 1947.

Hand-painted cover made by E.J. Henriques of Meridian, Mississipi

for Wellborn Ellis of Atlanta, Georgia.

At least 60 different cachets for United Nations events were made by Henriques between 1946 and 1949, using a pen and water colors to produce unique cachets for each of the events. It is believed that only two to five of each were produced.

Note the mistake in “Aeronautic” (Should be “Aviation”).

 

Montreal - First Session of the Assembly (1947)

Early emblem shown in the lobby of the Windsor Hotel

 

Montreal - Second Session of the Assembly – Date of cancel: 25 May 1948.

Hand-painted cover made by E.J. Henriques of Meridian, Mississipi

for Wellborn Ellis of Atlanta, Georgia.

(Same designer as the cover related to the First Session).

 

France – 3 March 1990 - 90th Birth anniversary of Max Hymans (1990-1961), Civil Aviation Pioneer.

He was Chairman of the French Delegation at the Chicago Conference in 1944.

He was Head of the French Delegation at the 1st (1947) and 2nd (1948) Sessions of the Assembly; at the 2nd Assembly, he was elected President of this Assembly.

In 1963, the ICAO Council unanimously voted to bestow the 3rd Edward Warner Award posthumously on Max Hymans, for his outstanding contributions to the development of international civil aviation.

 

  Montreal – Postcard showing the Laurentien Hotel on Dominion Square, Montreal.

Some meetings of the Fourth Session were held at the Laurentien Hotel.

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