Every once in ten years the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) holds a worldwide air transport conference. The most recent such event - the 6thWorldwide Air Transport Conference (ATConf/6) - was held in Montreal from 18 to 22 March 2013. At this conference, delegates mulled over 'achievements' since the 5th Worldwide Air Transport Conference (ATConf/5), held ten years earlier in Montreal from 24 to 29 March 2003.
ATConf/6 decided, after consensually agreeing that ICAO should play a 'leadership role' in meeting its aim to 'meet the needs of the people of the world for safe, regular, economical and efficient air transport'(as prescribed in the Convention on International Civil Aviation) that ICAO should continue to assist States in liberalization efforts by enhancing the 'market place' facility offered to States; continue to update the Template Air Services Agreements (TASAs) to keep pace with regulatory evolution; undertake and promote the development of additional training courses, regional seminars or similar activities for the benefit of States, in accordance with available resources; continue to monitor regulatory developments, conduct studies on major issues of global importance, and provide policy guidance and assistance to States; and continue to develop relevant databases such as the Database of the World's Air Services Agreements as well as case studies of liberalization experiences.
The questions posed by this article are: are these tasks for ICAO which were decided on by ATConf/6 (and other such preceding conferences) those of one in a leadership role? Are they sufficient to meet the needs of the people of the world for safe, regular, economical and efficient air transport? Should ICAO not be allowed to think out of its 67 year old box and be a beacon to air transport regulators? In other words, shouldn't the bottom line of ICAO's existence in the field of air transport be to analyse trends and guide the air transport industry instead of continuing to act as merely a forum for global practitioners to gather and update information on their respective countries policies for air transport? Shouldn't ICAO provide direction with regard to one of its Strategic Objectives, as do other specialized agencies of the United Nations? A critical analysis follows.Air and Space Law