The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), a specialized organization of the United Nations tasked with arranging and overseeing international air traffic, was created by the Chicago Convention (also recognized as the Convention on International Civil Aviation). The Convention specifies airspace rules, aircraft registration, and safety regulations, as well as the signatories’ privileges about air travel; it also exempts air fuels from taxation. On December 7, 1944, 52 states ratified the Convention in Chicago, Illinois, and it went into effect on April 4, 1947.
The Convention established each state’s jurisdiction over its airspace, as well as five freedoms (later extended to nine with the addition of four unofficial freedoms) that control states’ ability to conduct air transport flights (including passenger, freight, and mail carriage) through, into, and within the airspace of other states. Just the first two of these freedoms (see below) are voluntarily granted to signatory nations, with the others requiring national consensus.
The Chicago convention guarantees several rights. Those are:
- Right to overfly a foreign country without landing
- Right to refuel or carry out maintenance in a foreign country
- Right to fly from one’s own country to another
- Right to fly from a foreign country to one’s own
- Right to fly between two foreign countries during flights that begin or end in one’s own
- Right to fly from one foreign country to another one while stopping in one’s own country
- Right to fly between two foreign countries while not offering flights to one’s own country
- Right to fly between two or more airports in a foreign country while continuing service to one’s own country
- Right to fly inside a foreign country without continuing service to one’s own country
International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)
The Convention on International Civil Aviation, which was drafted by a conference in Chicago in November and December 1944 and to which each ICAO Contracting State is a member, is the foundation of ICAO. The Chicago Convention is another name for this convention. ICAO was designated as a specialized organization of the newly formed United Nations in October 1947.
The Chicago Convention set down the purpose of ICAO as:
“While the future development of international civil aviation will greatly aid in the creation and maintenance of friendship and understanding among the world’s nations and peoples, its misuse can pose a threat to global security, whereas, it is desirable to avoid friction and promote the co-operation between nations and peoples in which the world’s peace depends, the unrestricted use of international civil aviation is prohibited.”
How Does ICAO Work?
The ICAO itself provides the following description:
“The Organization is made up of an Assembly, a Council with restricted membership with different subordinate bodies, and a Secretariat, according to the terms of the Convention.” The President of the Council and the Secretary-General are the Chief Officers.
ICAO’s sovereign body is the Assembly, which is made up of delegates from all Contracting States. It meets every three years to study the Organization’s work in-depth and set strategy for the coming years. A triennial budget is also voted on.
The Council, the legislative body, is made up of 36 States and is elected by the Assembly for a three-year term. The Assembly selects the Council Member States based on three criteria: countries with the greatest significance of air travel, countries that contribute the most to the provision of air navigation services, and countries whose selection would ensure that all major regions of the world are represented. The Council, as ICAO’s administrative body, directs the organization’s operation. Standards and Recommended Practices are adopted and added as Annexes to the International Civil Aviation Convention by the Council. The Air Navigation Commission (for operational issues), the Air Transport Committee (for economic issues), the Committee on Joint Support of Air Navigation Services, and the Finance Committee all assist the Council.
The Secretariat is split into five major divisions: the Air Navigation Bureau, the Air Transport Bureau, the Technical Co-operation Bureau, the Legal Bureau, and the Bureau of Administration and Services, all of which are led by a Secretary-General. Professional professionals are drawn from all over the world to ensure that the Secretariat’s work reflects a genuinely universal perspective.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the Universal Postal Union, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) all collaborate closely with the ICAO (IMO). Non-governmental organizations which also participate in ICAO’s work include the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Airports Council International (ACI), the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations International Federation of Airline Pilots Associations (IFALPA), and the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations (IAOPA).”
ICAO is responsible for:
- Prevention of economic waste
- Fair competition
- Aviation Law