Opened for Signature: 23 September 1971. Entered into Force: 26 January 1973. Duration: The convention does not set any limits on its duration.
Number of Parties: 188.
Signatories that have not ratified: 0.
Depository: International Civil Aviation Organiza-tion (ICAO).
Treaty Text Background: At its 18th session, held in Vienna in 1971 from 15 June-8 July, the ICAO Assembly adopted a resolution concerning additional technical measures to be taken for the protection of the security of international civil air transport. In addition, the assembly requested that the ICAO Council and the secretary general of the ICAO ensure that the subject of air transport security be given adequate attention and that suitable items addressing questions of securi-ty be included on the agenda of the appropriate meet-ings of the organization. Due to the ICAO’s increas-ing concerns with meeting the growing threat of vi-olence against international civil aviation, stemming in large part from the 1968 hijacking of an El Al flight, the 1969 hijacking of TWA flight 840, and five airliners hijacked in unison by five separate groups in 1970, it convened a diplomatic conference on air law from 8-23 September in Montreal, Canada. The conference adopted the Convention for the Sup-pression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation. Also in 1971, the ICAO published a security manual designed to assist states in taking measures to prevent acts of unlawful interference with civil aviation, or to minimize their effects. In December 1972, the Sixth Committee approved a Draft Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of International Terrorism, which established the Ad Hoc Committee on International Terrorism to consid-er the observations of states and submit a report to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in 1973.
In 1981, the ICAO Council adopted Amendment 4 to Annex 17 of the Chicago Convention to introduce the concept of lease, charter, and interchange of aircraft in international operations, and it added a provision on the transportation of persons in custody. Obligations: This convention defines the following as offenses: unlawfully and intentionally performing an act of violence against a person on board a civilian aircraft in flight if it is likely to endanger the safety of that aircraft; destroying an aircraft in service or caus-ing damage to an aircraft that renders it incapable of flight or is likely to endanger its safety in flight; plac-ing or causing to be placed devices or substances likely to destroy the aircraft, render it incapable of flight, or endanger its safety in flight; destroying or damaging air navigation facilities (only if these facili-ties are used in international air navigation) or inter-fering with their operation; and communicating false information that would endanger the safety of an air-craft in flight. In addition, it is also an offense to at-tempt to commit or to be an accomplice of a person who commits or attempts to commit these offenses. The convention applies, whether the aircraft is en-gaged in an international or domestic flight, only if: the point of take-off or landing, actual or intended, is outside the territory of the state where the aircraft is registered; or if the offense is committed outside of the state of registration. States Parties may establish jurisdiction in cases when the offense takes place in the territory of that state; the state is the state of registration of the air-craft; the aircraft lands in the state’s territory with the alleged offender still on board; or when the offense is committed against or on board an aircraft leased without crew to a lessee whose primary place of business or permanent residence is in that state. Criminal jurisdiction exercised in accordance with national law is not excluded by this convention. Compliance and Enforcement: The convention requires states to make the offenses punishable by severe penalties, and it lays out guidelines for custo-dy of suspects. States Parties are required to either extradite the offender or submit the case for prosecu-tion. States Parties are also required to assist each other in connection with criminal proceedings brought under the convention.
SAFETY OF CIVIL AVIATION Inventory of International Nonproliferation Organizations and Regimes © Center for Nonproliferation Studies Last Updated: 4/27/2010 Civair-2
Reservations and Withdrawal: Under Article 14, paragraph 1, disputes between two or more states concerning the interpretation or application of the convention will be submitted to arbitration at the re-quest of one of the states if the matter cannot be set-tled through negotiation. However, a state may make a reservation that it does not consider itself bound by this paragraph at the time of signing, ratification, or accession. In such a case, other States Parties shall not be bound to this paragraph with respect to any State Party who has made such a declaration. Several States Parties, including Afghanistan, Ba-hrain, Belarus, Brazil, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Guatemala, Indonesia, Malawi, Mongolia, Oman, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Poland, Qatar, Ro-mania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Syria, Tunisia, and Ukraine, made reservations with respect to Article 14 paragraph 1. In addition, Venezuela made reservations regarding Articles 4, 7, and 8 say-ing that it would consider clearly political motives and the circumstances under which offenses are committed, in refusing to extradite or prosecute an offender, unless financial extortion or injury to a per-son on board has occurred. Its reservation is based on the desire to protect its sovereignty in upholding the principle of asylum present in its constitution. Italy, the United States and the United Kingdom have ob-jected to Venezuela’s reservation. Developments: 2009: The ICAO Legal Committee met in its 34th session from 9-17 September and addressed the initi-ative to amend the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation. The committee debated and revised the amendments drafted by its Special Subcommittee. The main con-cerns of States present were that the proposed changes to the convention could hamper trade and development, wrongly criminalize the actions of citi-zens, or require expensive monitoring equipment. The committee was not able to finalize wording for the amendments. 2005-2008: On 24 March 2005, ICAO conducted a survey of its Member States to determine whether existing conventions should be expanded to criminal-ize acts such as the use of civilian aircraft to transfer or disperse biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons. The vast majority of States that responded to the sur-vey believed that such changes were necessary.
In response, the ICAO Legal Committee convened a Special Subcommittee of the Legal Committee (SSCLC) to prepare one or more legal instruments to address these threats. The following States comprised the SSCLC: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Fin-land, France, Germany, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, Russian Federation, Senegal, Singapore, South Afri-ca, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, United King-dom, and the United States. The following States served as ex-officio members of the SSCLC: Canada, Italy, India, Nigeria, Jordan, and Egypt. During meetings held from 3-6 July 2007 and 19-21 February 2008, the SSCLC determined that the fol-lowing acts were not criminalized by existing interna-tional law but should be: the use of civilian aircraft as a weapon; the use of civilian aircraft to unlawfully spread biological, chemical, or nuclear substances; acts against civilian aircraft using biological, chemi-cal, and nuclear substances; the use of civilian air-craft to knowingly transport materials intended to be used in biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons; the use of civilian aircraft to transport an individual known to have committed a criminal offense for pur-pose of evading criminal prosecution.
During this meeting, the SSCLC decided that the best way to expand international law to cover the offenses involving the use or proliferation of WMD and re-lated materials would be to amend the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation. The SSCLC drafted possible amendments for recommendation to the ICAO Legal Committee. Much of the wording was taken directly from the 2005 Protocol to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation.
2004: During the 35th session of the ICAO Assembly, held from 28 September to 8 October, several resolu-tions were adopted that relate to the safety of civil aviation: A35-7, “Unified strategy to resolve safety-related deficiencies,” urges states to share and use critical safety information through regional and sub-regional cooperation. A35-9, “Consolidated statement of continuing ICAO policies related to the safeguarding of international civil aviation against acts of unlawful interference,” urges states who have not done so to accede to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation. A35-11, “Threat to civil aviation posed by man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS),” calls upon states to cooperate at the international, regional, and sub-regional levels with a view to enhancing and coordinating international efforts aimed at imple-menting countermeasures carefully chosen with re-gard to their effectiveness and cost, and to combating the threat posed by MANPADS.
SAFETY OF CIVIL AVIATION Inventory of International Nonproliferation Organizations and Regimes © Center for Nonproliferation Studies Last Updated: 4/27/2010 Civair-3
2001-2002: Following the 11 September 2001 terror-ist attacks on the United States, the ICAO called on its Member States to take various steps to strengthen the convention: first, agree to cooperate fully in the investigation, apprehension, and prosecution of all those responsible for these acts of unprecedented savagery; second, meet at a high level to reach agreement among states on how best to prevent and eradicate acts of terrorism against civil aviation; and third, develop a detailed action plan to address the new forms of threat to civil aviation. On 20 February, 2002, Member States of the ICAO endorsed a global strategy for strengthening aviation security worldwide at the two-day, high-level, Minis-terial Conference held at ICAO Headquarters in Montreal. A central element of the strategy is an ICAO “Aviation Security Plan of Action,” which included regular, mandatory, systematic, and harmo-nized audits to enable evaluation of aviation security in place in all 187 Member States of ICAO. Among other elements, the Plan of Action included identifi-cation, analysis, and development of an effective global response to new and emerging threats. 1992: The Libyan case: Libya called for the imple-mentation of Article 14 of the Montreal Convention in regard to charges by France, the United Kingdom, and the United States that nationals and possibly offi-cials of Libya were involved in the 21 December 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland and the 19 September 1989 crash of UTA flight 772 over Niger. Libya requested that the Inter-national Court of Justice (ICJ) declare that Libya had complied fully with all of its obligations under the Montreal Convention. Libya claimed that this con-vention is the only appropriate one in force between the parties. Furthermore, in observing the convention, Libya believed it was required to establish its own jurisdiction over alleged offenders present in its terri-tory and submit the case to its authorities for prosecu-tion, as there was no extradition treaty between it and the other parties. Libya claimed that the United States and United Kingdom were in breach of this conven-tion by rejecting Libyan efforts to resolve the matter within the framework of international law and by placing pressure on it to surrender the two Libyan nationals for trial.
At the request of the Security Council, the UN Secre-tary-General endeavored to persuade the Libyan gov-ernment to comply with resolutions for the purpose of establishing responsibility for the two terrorist acts involving aircraft. The Secretary-General dispatched six UN missions to Libya during this year; however, compliance with the resolutions was not achieved. In 1995, the United Kingdom and the United States filed preliminary objections to the jurisdiction of the ICJ to entertain the applications of Libya. In 1997, the ICJ heard arguments from the United Kingdom and Unit-ed States on jurisdiction. The two Lockerbie suspects went on trial in May 2000 under Scottish law in the Netherlands. One was convicted of murder in January 2001 and sentenced to life imprisonment. The other was acquitted for lack of evidence and freed. Point of Contact: International Civil Aviation Organization 999 University Street Montreal, Quebec H3C 5H7 Tel: +1 514 954 8219 Fax: +1 514 954 6077 Telex: 05-24513
Website: http://www.icao.int/ Terrorism Prevention Branch United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Vienna International Centre P.O. Box 500 A-1400 Vienna Austria Tel: +43 1 26060 5604 Fax: +43 1 26060 5968