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Members of UN aviation agency consider urging high-level forum on flight security

Members of UN aviation agency consider urging high-level forum on flight security

Responding to the 11 September terrorist attacks against the United States, members of the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) are drafting a resolution calling for an unprecedented, high-level, international conference on aviation security.

Meeting at the agency's Montreal headquarters for the 33rd Session of the ICAO Assembly, which opened on Tuesday, countries are debating a draft resolution that directs the ICAO Council to urgently develop an action plan to address the new threat to civil aviation. The plan should include a review of existing aviation security conventions and of Annex 17 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, the agency's charter.

Annex 17 and related guidance material contain the internationally approved Standards and Recommended Practices and Procedures on aviation security as they apply to international flights. Until the Annex is revised, the proposed resolution suggests interim measures, including applying its requirements to domestic flights, requiring cockpit doors to remain locked during flight and upgrading provisions regarding airport security controls.

The unusually strong tone of the proposed resolution also urges all 187 Contracting States to "hold accountable, with severity," those who misuse civil aviation as weapons of destruction, including those responsible for organizing such acts or for aiding, supporting or harbouring the perpetrators. It also calls for increased cooperation to facilitate the investigation, apprehension and prosecution of perpetrators as well as those having participated in terrorist acts.

"It is crucial that Contracting States intensify their efforts towards full implementation of the ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices and Procedures relating to aviation security, to monitor such implementation, and to take all appropriate security measures commensurate with the level of threat in order to prevent and eradicate terrorist acts against civil aviation," said ICAO Council President Assad Kotaite.

The proposed resolution also calls for special funding for urgent action by ICAO in aviation security and urges countries to increase their existing contributions to the agency's aviation security mechanism.

Discussions on the draft resolution, including the agenda, time and place for the proposed conference, are being conducted during the two-week meeting, which will run through 5 October. The session will also look at ICAO's activities over the past three years, elect members to the Council and consider projects and issues vital to the continued safe and orderly development of international civil aviation.