ICAO urges States to accelerate ratification of international unruly air passenger treaty

Montréal, 4 April 2024 – In response to the increase in incidents of unruly passenger behavior on international flights being reported by regulators and airlines, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) issued an urgent call to its Member States to fast-track the ratification of the 2014 Protocol to Amend the Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft (Montréal Protocol 2014 or MP14).

Since its adoption on 4 April 2014, MP14 has sought to remedy jurisdictional gaps that hinder the effective prosecution of offences occurring on international flights. "On the tenth anniversary of MP14, it is crucial that Member States reinforce their commitment to safe air travel by ratifying this essential treaty," urged Salvatore Sciacchitano, President of the ICAO Council. "The global spike in unruly passenger incidents is not just a matter of passenger comfort—it's a safety and security risk that requires an immediate, coordinated response."

In most cases, the Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft (Tokyo Convention 1963) confers jurisdiction over offences committed on board aircraft onto the State where the aircraft is registered. This causes problems if the flight is landing in a foreign country, as law enforcement agencies determine that they do not have jurisdiction.  MP14 addresses this issue by giving jurisdiction to the State of landing, thus giving States authority to deal with unruly passengers that land in their territory, irrespective of where the aircraft is registered. The State of Operator is also given jurisdiction over offences committed on board an aircraft registered in another State.

The Protocol has been ratified by 47 States from all regions of the world and entered into force on 1 January 2020.

“In addition to urging States that have not already done so to ratify the 2014 Montréal Protocol, ICAO is also encouraging governments to use the suite of tools developed by ICAO and industry partners to prevent and respond to unruly passenger crimes,” stated ICAO Secretary General Juan Carlos Salazar. “All passengers are entitled to a safe and comfortable flight experience, flight crew have the right to a conducive working environment, and we all benefit from the avoidance of costly and wasteful flight diversions.”

Guidance material is provided in ICAO’s Manual on the Legal Aspects of Unruly and Disruptive Passengers (ICAO Doc 10117), which contains a list of offences most likely to be committed on board aircraft by unruly and disruptive passengers, which States may choose to incorporate into their national legislation. The Manual also elaborates on elements of an administrative sanctions regime which can assist States to handle offenders expeditiously.

Additionally, under the 1944 Convention on International Civil Aviation, ICAO has also adopted Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) with respect to unruly and disruptive behaviour, which are now inscribed in the Convention’s Annex 17 — Security — Safeguarding International Civil Aviation Against Acts of Unlawful Interference and Annex 9 — Facilitation. The implementation of these SARPs is supported by a wide variety of ICAO guidance material.


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About ICAO
A specialized agency of the United Nations, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) leads the international alignment of technical standards and strategies, facilitating the safe, secure, and sustainable development of its 193 member states’ aviation sectors and air services. This year, ICAO is celebrating the 80th anniversary of its establishment by the 1944 Convention on International Civil Aviation.

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