Taipei Times: The government has said that Taiwan’s presence at the assembly as a guest — not as an observer, as it had hoped — is subject to Article 5 of the ICAO’s Standing Rules of Procedure of the Assembly, which it said limits observer status in the assembly only to non-contracting states or international organizations. Since there is no consensus among ICAO members that Taiwan is a non-contracting state and Taipei does not accept attending as an international organization, Taiwan was then invited as a guest. What is your view on this?
Chris Huang (黃居正): It is nonsense. Those articles regulate the criteria and procedures regarding non-member participation in the assembly. They are drawn up by the ICAO Secretariat to assist with the running of meetings and have nothing to do with granting Taiwan observer status.
The ICAO enjoys the status of a subject of international law, meaning it is incumbent on the organization to exercise its function and its members to perform rights and obligations in strict observance of its constitution: the 1944 Convention on International Civil Aviation, also known as the Chicago Convention.
Under the convention, there is no mechanism for admission of a party to the ICAO as an observer because membership is the only status under which a party can be admitted to the organization.
It can grant observership on an ad hoc, or case-by-case, basis at various meetings when consultation over certain issues with the concerned party is required.
For example, the ICAO council once invited the International Air Transport Association to participate in its meetings as an observer to discuss the economics and viability of a planned flight route. It did the same for related agencies under the Kyoto Protocol to discuss issues regarding aircraft carbon emissions.
TT: You said there is no observer status accreditation in the ICAO, but the government has said that being invited to attend the assembly as a “guest” is the first step toward gaining that status and that observership remains a goal for Taiwan.
Huang: I really cannot understand why the government has invented the existence of an ICAO observer status.
If one looks at the way the UN agency operates, it is evident that it is not necessary for the ICAO to have non-member parties attend the triennial assembly as observers. Almost every country is a member. Standards, regulations, operating practices and procedures covering the technical fields of international aviation are drawn up in ICAO Council’s daily meetings, not the assembly, which is a so-called quasi-legislative function of the council.
All 191 ICAO member states have representatives in Montreal, Canada, who regularly engage in meetings and activities at various levels.
The main purpose of the assembly is to ratify legislation and resolutions adopted by the council. If more than half of the assembly votes to overrule a decision made by the council, it will be rescinded, but this seldom happens.
The ICAO did make the EU an observer at its assembly in 1999 in Montreal. However, the reason the EU was invited was that it dictates foreign policy to its member states and the ICAO therefore needed its input on the multilateral treaty on air carriage rules adopted at the convention.
I do not see why the ICAO needs Taiwan to be present at the upcoming assembly as an observer, nor do I understand why the nation wants to attend.