Council President presents briefing to UN Security Council on the forced landing of Ryanair Flight FR4978 by Belarus


Further to the Resolution of the ICAO Assembly and the determination of the ICAO Council concerning the incident involving Ryanair Flight FR4978 in Belarus airspace on 23 May 2021, UN Security Council members Albania, France, United Kingdom, and United States called for a briefing of the Security Council on “the forced landing of the Ryanair flight by Belarus.”  

ICAO Council President Salvatore Sciacchitano delivered this briefing in the Security Council chamber on 31 October 2022, within the framework of its meeting on “Threats to International Peace and Security.”

In his remarks, the ICAO Council President highlighted that following the forced landing, the ICAO Council had requested the ICAO Secretariat to prepare a report that would present the available facts and relevant legal instruments, and identify any gaps in order to safeguard international civil aviation. It also called upon States to collaborate with the investigation. 

He noted that with the support and cooperation of many States involved in the event, the team gathered a considerable amount of documents, written statements, audio and video, and had the opportunity to travel on site to conduct interviews of relevant actors and witnesses, despite the COVID-19 constraints.

The collected evidence led to the conclusion that Belarus senior officials orchestrated the deliberate diversion of the flight under the false pretext of a bomb threat, as presented in the final report of the fact-finding investigation team that the Council considered on 18 July 2022.

Subsequently, the ICAO Council decided both that the actions of the Government of Belarus amounted to an infraction of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention) to be reported to the ICAO Assembly, and that the final fact finding report should be forwarded to the United Nations Secretary-General for information and any appropriate further action.

At the ICAO Assembly, which was held from 27 September to 7 October, ICAO member States acknowledged the infraction of the Chicago Convention, and adopted the Resolution A41-1, condemning the actions of the Government of the Republic of Belarus in committing an act of unlawful interference that deliberately endangered the safety and security of Ryanair Flight FR 4978 and the lives of those on board.

Following the briefing, the President of the Council welcomed the wide variety of responses by States that broadly appreciated ICAO’s work and the impartiality and comprehensiveness of the Organization’s fact-finding investigation.

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