General Work Programme of the Legal Committee
It was decided, for the 40th Session of the ICAO Assembly (A40), to add new item 3) “Processes and procedures for States to fulfil their obligations under Article 12 of the Chicago Convention” to the General Work Programme of the Legal Committee. The Assembly also accepted the Secretariat’s proposal to merge existing items 4) and 5) into a single item 4) “Acts or offences of concern to the international aviation community, including cyber threats, that may not be adequately covered by existing air law instruments”.
A40 therefore established the General Work Programme of the Legal Committee as follows:
Legal aspects of pilotless aircraft
It was noted by the 40th Session of the Assembly that the 37th Session of the Legal Committee had established a Working Group to address international legal aspects of unmanned (pilotless) aircraft operations and integration into civil aviation; however, the commencement of work by the Working Group was on-hold due to the budgetary constraints faced by the Organization. There was broad support for the idea of forming a group under the Secretariat as a means to overcome the budgetary issues, which would provide an interface between the Organization’s legal and technical work on pilotless aircraft.
Review of the ICAO Rules for the Settlement of Differences
Further to the 37th Session of the Legal Committee (4 – 7 September 2018), a Working Group for the Review of the ICAO Rules for the Settlement of Differences (WG-RRSD) was established in 2019 to undertake the revision of the said ICAO Rules, taking into account, inter alia, best practices, comparable documentation that is in use for similar purposes elsewhere in the United Nations system as well as international governmental organizations, and in particular the Rules of Court of the International Court of Justice. The first meeting of the Working Group was held in Montréal from 7 – 9 May 2019 to agree on working methods and to establish a roadmap for the implementation of the task. A second meeting of the Working Group was held in Montréal from 12 – 14 November 2019, during which various policy issues pertaining to the review of the ICAO Rules were considered and the practice of other international judicial and dispute settlement bodies were examined.
Processes and procedures for States to fulfil their obligations under Article 12 of the Chicago Convention
Further to a proposal jointly presented by Brazil and the United States to the Legal Commission of the 40th Session of the Assembly in A40-WP/101, the Assembly decided to add the above-captioned item to the General Work Programme of the Legal Committee. In view of existing priorities funded through the Organization’s Regular Programme Budget for 2020-2021-2022, and the lack of extra-budgetary resources, the Assembly agreed that work on that new item could proceed with the envisaged establishment of a multi-disciplinary Secretariat group or task force.
Cyber threats against civil aviation
The Research Subgroup on Legal Aspects (RSGLEG) of the Secretariat Study Group on Cybersecurity (SSGC), at its second meeting held in Tel Aviv on 19-20 March 2019, received technical briefings from State and industry experts on the nature of cyber threats, during which certain issues requiring legal analysis were identified.
The Secretariat subsequently reported to A40 that LEB is supporting the work that is being undertaken by the RSGLEG to review international law instruments relevant to cyber threats against civil aviation and that the study on this topic would be reported to the Legal Committee at its next session.
Legal issues relating to unruly passengers
Manual on the Legal Aspects of Unruly and Disruptive Passengers (Doc 10117) was published in June 2019. This Manual updates ICAO Circular 288 –
Guidance Material on the Legal Aspects of Unruly/Disruptive Passengers, as a result of the adoption of the
Protocol to Amend the Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft (Montréal Protocol 2014). The Manual contains, inter alia, an updated list of offences and acts most likely to be committed on board aircraft by unruly and disruptive passengers. A40 adopted Resolution A40-28:
Consolidated Statement of Continuing ICAO Policies in the Legal Field, which amends the previous resolution on the same subject, primarily to reflect the work completed by the Task Force on Legal Aspects of Unruly Passengers to update Circular 288, including a review of the contents of the Model Legislation on Certain Offences Committed on Board Civil Aircraft, and the publication of the Manual. As of 31 December 2019, there were 10 ratifications and 12 accessions to the Montréal Protocol 2014. The Protocol entered into force on 1 January 2020 (see the section on “Entry into force of the Montréal Protocol 2014”).
Pursuant to Assembly Resolution A39-8, which established the future work of the Organization on the topic of conflicts of interest in civil aviation, the Secretariat developed a compilation of ICAO provisions (ICAO Guidance on Conflicts of Interest in Civil Aviation) which was presented to the 37th Session of the Legal Committee. The compilation consists of ICAO provisions on conflicts of interest concerning aviation safety, security and accident and incident investigation, as well as air transport policy that are contained in ICAO Annexes 13, 17 and 19 and over a dozen ICAO manuals. This compilation was published in July 2019.
Promotion of the ratification of international air law instruments
The President of the Council and the Secretary General continued to promote ratification of international air law instruments during their visits to Member States and meetings with high-level government officials.
The first ICAO Treaty Event was successfully conducted during A40. Nine States took the opportunity to sign and deposit instruments of ratification to international air law treaties for which ICAO acts as depositary, with a total of 17 depositary actions being recorded. In addition, five States took the opportunity of the Treaty Event to meet with the Legal Bureau in order to discuss their status with respect to international air law instruments. The Treaty Event focused mainly on the promotion of the Montreal Convention of 1999, the Beijing Convention and Protocol of 2010, the Montréal Protocol of 2014, as well as the 2016 Protocols amending Articles 50 (a) and 56 of the Chicago Convention. The Event took place under the theme “A Century of International Air Law Treaties”, in recognition that 2019 marked not only the 75th anniversary of the adoption of the
Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago, 1944), but also the 100th anniversary of the adoption of the
Convention on Aerial Navigation (Paris, 1919).
LEB assisted the Global Aviation Training Office (GAT) with the development and delivery of the ICAO International Air Law Course, which promotes, inter alia, the ratification of international air law instruments. Over 140 participants benefited from the said Course during 2019, which was delivered at ICAO Headquarters and in the Regions.
Implementation of Article 21
Further to the recommendations of the second meeting of the Task Force on the Implementation of Article 21 of the Chicago Convention (A21TF) held from 10 – 11 April 2018, subsequently endorsed by the Legal Committee at its 37th Session, the Secretariat submitted the model certificate of deregistration of aircraft proposed by the A21TF to the Cross-border Transferability Task Force (XBT-TF) for consideration during its third meeting, held in Montréal from 29 January – 1 February 2019.