International Judicial Monitor
Published by the International Judicial Academy, Washington, D.C., with assistance from the
American Society of International Law

Spring 2016 Issue

100 Ways


International Law: One Hundred Ways It Shapes Our Lives

100 Ways

Being less concerned about which airline you use because of international safety standards.

James G. Apple, Editor-in-Chief, International Judicial Monitor

(In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the American Society of International Law in 2006, the Society published a pamphlet titled International Law: One Hundred Ways It Shapes Our Lives. The introduction gives an explanation for its conception: an affirmation that: “international law not only exists, but also penetrates much more deeply and broadly into everyday life than the people it affects may generally appreciate.” This column seeks to elucidate and elaborate on many of the 100 ways briefly presented in the ASIL pamphlet.)

With dramatic increases in air travel that have occurred around the world in the last several decades, in part due to airline deregulation that occurred in the United States in 1978, there has been a substantial increase in air travel both globally and in different regions of the world. Statistics reveal that there are now more thatn 100,000 daily flights in every region of the world. There has also been a concomitant growth in the number of airline companies operating both worldwide and in the different regions of the world. Such growth places more burdens on individual airlines for the attention required to safety standards for the prevention of airline accidents.

One of the reasons why there has been a dramatic decline in the number of airline accidents in recent years, despite the increase in passenger traffic and number of airline companies operating in commercial aviation, is the work of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a special agency of the United Nations (UN).

The ICAO was founded in 1944 when representatives of 54 nations convened in Chicago from November 1 to December 7 “manage the administration and governance of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (known as the Chicago Convention). This includes surveying international aviation and making recommendations for improvements. It became a part of the UN  in 1947 after that organization was created the following year at the end of World War II.

The main objective of the ICAO is to “reach consensus on international civil aviation Standards and Recommended Practices.” Importantly it also “audits civil aviation oversight capabilities in the areas of safety and security.” To accomplish this it works with the 191 Member States which make up the membership of the Assembly, one of its two policy bodies. The other policy body is the Council.

The Assembly decides on the members who will serve on the Council, approves the budget of the ICAO. It also “reviews in detail the work of the Organization in the technical, administrative, economic and legal and technical cooperation fields. It can approve amendments to the Convention, which are subject to ratification by the Member States.

The Council is a permanent body composed of 36 Member States elected by the Assembly for three year terms. It submit annual reports to the Assembly, carries out instructions of the Assembly, administers the finances of the ICAO and appoints members to and


defines the duties of committees of the ICAO. Two important functions of the Council are to adopt international Standards and Practices and to appoint the Secretary-General of the Organization.

The ICAO reports the following about the ICAO Secretary General:

“The Secretary General of ICAO is head of the Secretariat and chief executive officer of the Organization responsible for general direction of the work of the Secretariat. The Secretary General provides leadership to a specialized international staff working in the field of international civil aviation. The Secretary General serves as the Secretary of the Council of ICAO and is responsible to the Council as a whole and, following established policies, carries out the duties assigned to him by the Council, and makes periodic reports to the Council covering the progress of the Secretariat activities.

The Secretariat consists of five main divisions: the Air Navigation Bureau, the Air Transport Bureau, the Technical Co-operation Bureau, the Legal Affairs and External Relations Bureau, and the Bureau of Administration and Services. The Secretary General is also directly responsible for the management and effective work performance of the activities assigned to the Office of the Secretary General relating to Finance, Evaluation and Internal Audit, Communications, and seven Regional Offices.

The Council of ICAO appointed Dr. Fang Liu (China) as Secretary General of the Organization for a three-year term, from 1 August 2015 to 31 July 2018.”

For its safety program, the ICAO recruited 226 field experts and consultants. With 716 national project personnel there were 1,035 officials which included field experts and consultants already serving. These experts serve as consultants to national civil aviation administrations of Member States to advise about training and safety inspections. The presence of these experts greatly assisted the ICAO in developing adequate safety and security deficiencies.

The ICAO reported that in 2014 international scheduled passenger traffic grew by 6 per cent. Overall markets grew at the rate of 5.6 per cent. Low cost carriers  carried an estimated 900 million passengers. This figure represents only 27 per cent of the world total scheduled passengers. Airline capacity world wide increased in 2014 5.6 per cent.

Statistics about airlines air safety record in 2014 reveal that 98 aircraft accidents, an increase of 9.0 per cent from the previous year. There were 904 fatalities, up from 173 the year before (due in most part to two major commercial jet accidents – MH370 and MH17). However the number of fatal accidents (as opposed to fatalities) decreased in 2014 to 7, the lowest in recent history. A graph prepared by ICAO reveals that in 2010 there were 4.2 accidents per million departures, a number that has dropped to 2.8 in 2013 and 3.0 in 2014.

There can be little question that airline safety has improved tremendously in the past 20 years. A good part of the reason for the amazing safety records of the world’s airlines has been the work and efforts of the International Civil Aviation Organization.

ASIl & International Judicial AcademyInternational Judicial Monitor
© 2016 – The International Judicial Academy
with assistance from the American Society of International Law.

Editor: James G. Apple.
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