The Convention on International Civil Aviation, drafted in 1944 by 54 nations, was established to promote cooperation and “create and preserve friendship and understanding among the nations and peoples of the world.” Known more commonly today as the ‘Chicago Convention’ this landmark agreement established the core principles permitting international transport by air, and led to the creation of the specialized agency which has overseen it ever since – the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). In 1973 Oman became party to the Chicago convention. On the fiftieth anniversary of their signing, Oman concluded an important new agreement during the Civil Aviation Legal Advisers Forum (CALAF/2) they hosted from 19-21 February 2023 in Muscat, Oman.
To facilitate a continuing focus of attention on issues of interest to the international aviation community in the legal field, as the world pursues its recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the second CALAF event featured presentations on a variety of legal subjects. Recent developments and emerging issues in the air law field, including regulatory best practices, were covered. The Seminar addressed topics relating to ICAO’s work in the legal field, aviation safety and aviation security and current issues in aviation law and practice. This included outcomes of the 41st ICAO Assembly; crisis management in response to the pandemic and air travel recovery; issues of international concern, including data privacy, assistance to aircraft accident victims and dealing with unruly and disruptive passengers; use of Article 83bis tools for aviation safety; settlement of aviation disputes; and the competency framework for legal advisers.
The President of the Civil Aviation Authority of Oman, H.E Eng. Naif Ali Al-Abri, hosted ICAO Secretary General Juan Carlos Salazar throughout this mission. Addressing CALAF/2 in the presence of Oman’s Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, H.E. Dr. Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Saidi, ICAO’s Secretary General focused on the importance of upholding the rule of law to the proper functioning of the international aviation sector, and expressed ICAO’s gratitude for Oman’s hosting of the forum within this context.
The Secretary General also participated in a workshop with students from local academic institutions. He outlined the importance of attracting and retaining the next generation of aviation professionals to the sustainable recovery and development of the global aviation sector. The Forum was attended by 150 legal experts and other stakeholders from over 60 States.
The Secretary General met with Oman’s Deputy Prime Minister for Cabinet Affairs, H.H. Fahd bin Mahmoud Al Said, who commended ICAO’s role in assuring the security and safety of passengers and global air traffic.
The significance of ICAO’s cooperation with Oman was also a focus of Mr. Salazar’s ministerial meetings, which also encompassed discussions with Oman’s Minister of Finance, H.E Sultan bin Salem Al Habsi; Minister of Labour, H.E. Dr. Mahad bin Saeed Baawin; Minister of Transport, Communications, and Information Technology, H.E. Said Hamood Said Al Maawali; and the Minister of the Royal Office of Oman, H.E First Lieutenant General Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Nu’mani
The new cooperation agreement between ICAO and Oman that was formalized during the Secretary General’s mission with the President of the Civil Aviation Authority focuses on implementation support. It will see ICAO provide an array of capacity development services, including the provision of international experts in flight operations, personnel licencing, ground operations, and economic regulation. The project scope also foresees the training of personnel, and the potential procurement of goods and services to support aviation capacity development, including airport and air navigation service enhancements.
Mr. Salazar was accompanied on his mission by Mr. Jorge Vargas, Director of the ICAO Technical Cooperation Bureau; Mr. Michael Gill, Director of the ICAO Legal Affairs and External Relations Bureau and Mr. Mohamed Abu Baker Farea, ICAO Regional Director for the Middle East Region. In addition to the above activities, the Secretary General’s mission included a tour of the Muscat Air Control Centre and the National Centre for Early Warning of Multiple Hazards.