The ICAO Council


The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has one governing body: the Council. The ICAO Council is a permanent body responsible to the Assembly and is currently composed of thirty-six Contracting States elected by the Assembly for a term of three years; it holds three working sessions per year.


The Council, along with its subsidiary bodies (i.e. the Air Navigation Commission and various Committees), gives continuing direction to the work of ICAO. In this regard, one of its major duties is to adopt International Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and to incorporate these as Annexes to the Chicago Convention; the Council may also amend existing Annexes as necessary. The Council also has numerous additional official functions, notably to submit annual reports to the Assembly, carry out the directions of the Assembly, and to discharge the duties and obligations which are laid on it by the Convention on International Civil Aviation (named Chicago Convention, 1944). One of its main duties is to oversee the finances of ICAO, define the duties of the various Committees and appoint their members. Another key function of the Council is to appoint ICAO’s Secretary General. It additionally appoints the Members of the Air Navigation Commission.


The number of Council Members, as decided at the Chicago Convention in 1944, was 21. Later, amendments to the Chicago Convention (Article 50.a) raised this number as follows:


Increase to

Date and place of adoption

Date of entry into force


13th (Extraordinary) Session of the Assembly on 21 June 1961, signed at Montreal

17 July 1962


17th (A) (Extraordinary) Session of the Assembly on 12 March 1971, signed at New York

16 January 1973


21st Session of the Assembly on 16 October 1974, signed at Montreal

15 February 1980


28th (Extraordinary) Session of the Assembly on 26 October 1990, signed at Montreal

28 November 2002


The ICAO Assembly elects the Members of the Council. In the election of the Council Members, adequate representation (Article 50.b of the Chicago Convention) is given to States of chief importance in air transport (Part A), States not otherwise included which make the largest contribution to the provision of facilities for civil air navigation (Part B), and States not otherwise included whose designation will ensure that all major geographic areas of the world are represented on the Council (Part C).


The opening session of the Interim Council of the Provisional International Civil Aviation Organization (PICAO) was held on 15 August 1945 at 14h30 in the Rose Room of the Windsor Hotel, Montreal, Canada. Twenty members of this Interim Council had been elected on 8 December 1944, the next to the last day of the Chicago Conference. One seat on the Interim Council was left open in Category A for the U.S.S.R., should it decide to adhere to the Convention. The latter country did not finally adhere to the Convention until 15 October 1970; it was elected to the Council in 1971 during the 18th Session of the Assembly held in Vienna.


Among the twenty country-members of the Interim Council, Brazil and Mexico could not arrive on time for the opening meeting. Canada's Minister of Reconstruction C.D. Howe welcomed the Interim Council and noted that this was "the first post-war organization of the United Nations to get under way...".


On 28 May 1947, the ICAO Council held its first meeting; Edward Warner was elected President and Albert Roper was confirmed as Secretary General of the Organization, the positions both had held in the interim Organization. The first Session of ICAO Assembly had elected in the first category: Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Mexico, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States. Argentina, Australia, China, Egypt, India, Ireland and Portugal were elected in the second round; in the third, it was Chile, Czechoslovakia, Iraq, Peru, Sweden and Turkey. The membership of the first Council was much the same as in the Interim Council with a few exceptions: Sweden had replaced Norway, El Salvador and Colombia were dropped and replaced by only one Latin American state (i.e. Argentina) and Portugal took the remaining seat.


Interim Council in Session at the Windsor Hotel – August 1945.


ICAO’s 21-member Council in Session at 1080 University Street (ICAO first premises) – 1950.



United Nations New-York – 9 February 1955

10th Anniversary of the interim Agreement and the first PICAO meeting – Black cachet

ICAO Council in Session, on the 10th floor of the International Aviation Building, 1080 University Street.


Canada – 1 June 1955

10th Anniversary of the interim Agreement and the first PICAO meeting – Blue cachet

ICAO Council in Session, on the 10th floor of the International Aviation Building, 1080 University Street.


ICAO’s 27-member Council meeting in a new chamber at the Montreal headquarters building. A circular arrangement of desks is centered on a globe as shown in the above photo (taken in 1964) and the flags of the 103 Contracting States form a backdrop.


ICAO Council in Session at 1000 Sherbrooke Street West (ICAO second premises) – 1980.


 ICAO Council in Session, in the current building at 999 Boulevard Robert-Bourassa, Montréal.


Large bronze crest of ICAO donated in 1975 by the former USSR

and mounted on the wall behind the President’s seat.


Service cover sent by the Delegation of Belgium on the Council to Yves Lambert, Secretary General. Postmarked in New York on 14 May 1981.


Terrestrial Globe donated by The Netherlands in 1976 and supported by a carved base.

Located in the center of the Council Chamber.

Photo ICAO Journal 1997, Volume 52, No.1, p.23.