Annex 17- Security: Safeguarding International Civil Aviation against Acts of Unlawful Interference


Developed by ICAO, the International Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) contained in the nineteen Technical Annexes to the Convention on International Civil Aviation (also called Chicago Convention) are applied universally and produce a high degree of technical uniformity which has enabled international civil aviation to develop in a safe, orderly and efficient manner. The Delegates at the Chicago Conference in 1944 could hardly have foreseen that, one day, hijackers and terrorists could turn the operational vulnerability and the fundamental openness of aviation into their dark opportunity.


Safety and security of international civil aviation have always been the goals of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). However, since the 1960s, aviation security (i.e. the protection from criminal acts against civil aviation) has taken on a new meaning with the rise of an extremely violent terrorism against aviation and became a key element of ICAO’s role in the world. On this issue, ICAO worked side-side with the International Air Transport Association (IATA). In addition to several national and regional bodies, other organizations made important contributions to the security: the International Federation of Airline Pilots’ Association (IFALPA) and the Airports Council International (ACI); moreover, some decisions taken by powerful national or regional aviation organizations (such as the Federal Aviation Administration – FAA, or the European Civil Aviation Conference - ECAC) are often followed by others around the world.


On the legal side, a final draft Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft was prepared in 1962 for consideration, finalization, and adoption by the Diplomatic Conference convened at Tokyo by the ICAO Council from 20 August to 14 September 1963. The Tokyo Convention (Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed On Board Aircraft) entered into force on 4 December 1969 bringing closure to ICAO’s efforts on the subject since the 1950s.


Annex 17 - Security

The Tokyo Convention was ICAO’s first step in what would become a major international effort to combat the spread of aviation terrorism. The resolutions of the 16th ICAO Assembly held in Buenos Aires in 1968 called on the ICAO Council and the Member States to take action on this issue; further to that, the Council directed the Air Transport Committee and the Air Navigation Commission to initiate their own studies on the technical aspects related to the problems of airports and aircraft security. A new Committee on Unlawful Interference of Aircraft was created on 10 April 1969. The other major area for the Council’s action was, through the Legal Committee, to either refine the Tokyo Convention or create a wholly new convention. As the number of hijackings rose through 1969 and 1970, an Extraordinary Assembly (17th) was held in Montreal from 16 to 30 June 1970, specifically on the subject of aviation security; it produced a series of resolutions dealing with a wide range of security measures. In December 1972, initials standards for security were circulated for comments by the Member States. On 22 March 1974, the ICAO Council adopted the new International Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) on aviation security, embodied in the first edition of the Annex 17 – Security – Safeguarding International Civil Aviation against Acts of Unlawful Interference. The primary objective of each Contracting State is safeguarding its passengers, ground personnel, crew as well as the general public against any acts of unlawful interference.


Still further to the 17th Assembly (Resolution A17-10), the Security Manual for Safeguarding Civil Aviation against Acts of Unlawful Interference was developed to assist Contracting States in implementing Annex 17 to the Chicago Convention by providing guidance on the application of the SARPs found in the Annex. It was first published in November 1971.


In the atmosphere of crisis and on legal side, two new Conventions were prepared. From 1 to 16 December 1970, 77 States met in The Hague for the signing of the Hague Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft, which came into force on 14 October 1971; it took the Tokyo Convention and built on it incorporating several articles of the earlier Convention. From 8 to 23 September 1971, a full Diplomatic Conference (attended by 61 States) was held in Montréal and the Montréal Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation was opened for signature; it came into force on 26 January 1973.


Annex 17 to the Chicago Convention was amended and updated on several occasions to reflect the practical experience and the changing nature of the threats to civil aviation. Following the tragedy of 9/11, a number of changes were recommended to Annex 17 and rapidly approved by the ICAO Council; some provisions of this Annex were also made applicable to domestic flights, giving it a unique character among the others. The Attachment to Annex 17 consolidates the provisions of other Annexes that specifically address the issues of aviation security.


India – 2 April 2012 - 25th Anniversary of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security.

Initially set up as a Cell in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in January 1978, the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) in India was reorganized into an independent department on 1 April 1987 under the Ministry of Civil Aviation. The main responsibility of the BCAS is to lay down standards and measures in respect of security of civil flights at international and domestic airports in India; it is the regulatory authority in India for the implementation of Annex 17 to the Chicago Convention.