Supporting Strategies — Legal and External Relations Services — General Work Programme of the Legal Committee

General Work Programme of the Legal Committee


Legal aspects of pilotless aircraft


Further to the proposal made during the 40th Session of the ICAO Assembly that a Secretariat group provide an interface between ICAO’s legal and technical work on pilotless aircraft, the Secretariat Study Group on Legal Issues related to Pilotless Aircraft (SSG-LIPA) was established in February 2020. The inaugural meeting of the Study Group was scheduled to take place at ICAO headquarters in Montréal from 7 to 9 April 2020. However, due to the onset of COVID-19, the meeting was postponed. The SSG-LIPA subsequently met for the first time in a virtual setting on 10 August 2021, with opening remarks being delivered by the Secretary General. During the initial meeting, two subgroups were established: the Subgroup on Compliance with the Chicago Convention (SSG-LIPA-CCSG) and the Subgroup on Liability and Security (SSG-LIPA-LSSG). The composition of the two Subgroups was finalized at the second virtual meeting of the SSG-LIPA on 15 September 2021. Thereafter, four virtual meetings of the SSG-LIPA-CCSG were held in the course of October and November 2021, while the first virtual meeting of the SSG-LIPA-LSSG is expected to take place. The progress of the work of the SSG-LIPA will be reported to the 38th Session of the Legal Committee.


Review of the ICAO Rules for the Settlement of Differences


The Working Group for the Review of the ICAO Rules for the Settlement of Differences (WG-RRSD) held its 4th and 5th meetings virtually from 6 to 8 April 2021 and 5 to 7 October 2021, respectively. The Working Group discussed various issues pertaining to the review of the Rules and considered a second draft set of revisions to the Rules prepared by the Rapporteur in coordination with the Secretariat.


Processes and procedures for States to fulfil their obligations under Article 12


A task force was established to undertake a study of the implementation of Article 12 by States and to identify the means and mechanisms for States to support and enhance their implementation. The task force held its first meeting virtually on 23 November 2021. It was attended by 31 experts from 17 States and four experts from two international organizations. The meeting received presentations from the experts on the national experiences and practices of their States regarding the implementation of flight rules and regulations pursuant to Article 12. Outcomes of that meeting will be reported to the 38th Session of the Legal Committee.


Cyber threats against civil aviation


The Research Subgroup on Legal Aspects (RSGLEG) of the Secretariat Study Group on Cybersecurity (SSGC) met on 29–30 March, 2 July, 8 October and 2 December 2021 to continue the work on the review of international air law instruments and their applicability to cyber threats against civil aviation. Ad hoc working groups were tasked to study the intent, jurisdiction and effects of cyber threats as well as the applicability of Article 3bis of the Chicago Convention and to develop hypothetical cyber threat and attack scenarios to illustrate how such threats and attacks would fall within the scope of the current international air law instruments. This work will lead to conclusions on the applicability of those instruments to cyber threats and attacks. LEB is supporting the work that is undertaken by the RSGLEG on this topic and the outcome of this study will be reported to the 38th Session of the Legal Committee.


Legal issues relating to unruly and disruptive passengers


LEB continued to monitor events and respond to inquiries relating to the Protocol to Amend the Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft (Montréal Protocol 2014) and the Manual on the Legal Aspects of Unruly and Disruptive Passengers (Doc 10117), with regard to their application to the implementation and enforcement of COVID-19 public health and safety measures on board aircraft. In this regard, more than 10 States have become party to the Montréal Protocol 2014 since the outbreak of COVID-19 and the introduction of public health and safety measures. The Council Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) has maintained as Recommendation 9 of its Updated List of Key Principles and Recommendations (disseminated to States in State letter EC 2/76-21/64 of 5 October 2021) that Member States should take measures to ensure that relevant personnel are provided training to identify and manage unruly passenger situations related to non-respect of essential aviation public health and safety measures. LEB also delivered a presentation at the IATA Cabin Safety Conference on 7 December 2021 outlining the approach and tools available from ICAO that States can use to deal with unruly and disruptive passengers, including for the purposes of enforcing public health and safety measures in the context of COVID-19.


Promotion of the ratification of international air law instruments


Despite the international health crisis and the temporary closure of ICAO headquarters for several months in 2021, LEB continued to discharge the depositary functions incumbent on the Organization through the establishment of contingency measures. Personal deposits of instruments of ratification resumed at headquarters in June 2021. LEB continued to provide support to Member States and international organizations with respect to ratification matters.


A State letter was issued on 21 May 2021 (SL-LE 3/1.20, LE 3/1.21 – 21/38), in which States that have not done so were reminded to ratify the 2016 Protocols Amending Articles 50 (a) and 56 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation adopted by the 39th Session of the ICAO Assembly. The Protocol of Amendment to Article 50 (a) provides for an increase in the size of the Council from 36 members to 40, while the Protocol of Amendment to Article 56 provides for an increase in the membership of the Air Navigation Commission from 19 to 21. By Resolutions A39-5 and A39-7, respectively, the Assembly recommends to all States to ratify most urgently these Protocols. As of 31 December, each Protocol had 67 ratifications. One hundred and twenty-eight ratifications are required to bring each Protocol into force.


LEB assisted the Global Aviation Training (GAT) Office with the delivery of the ICAO International Air Law Course, which promotes, inter alia, the ratification of international air law instruments. One hundred and sixty-nine participants benefited from that Course during the course of 2021, delivered on 17 occasions through virtual means.

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