ACI Engagement with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

ACI has steadily increased its contact with ICAO over the years, culminating in the move from Geneva to Montreal in 2011 which has allowed for much broader and deeper engagement between ACI staff, State Representatives and the ICAO Secretariat. For example, we have been able to place our subject matter expert on the Air Navigation Commission as an observer which allows the airport sector early input into proposed technical recommendations that have direct consequences for airport design and operation.

Structure and Governance of ICAO


ICAO is a United Nations Specialized Agency responsible for developing and applying Standards and Recommended Practices and developing global policy guidance for international civil aviation. ACI works closely with ICAO and other stakeholders to ensure that airports’ interests are taken into account as policy is developed. ICAO policies have direct safety, security, environmental and economic impacts on airports’ business.


ICAO was established as a specialized agency of the United Nations under the 1944 Convention on International Civil Aviation, otherwise known as the “Chicago Convention”. Its professional employees are international civil servants and many of its processes are required to follow the norms of the United Nations. However, as a specialized agency it does have considerable flexibility in the way it governs itself and how it operates in practice. Currently, 192 States are members.

It is not a large organization by UN standards, with an approximately $100 million annual budget and 650 permanent staff. It has its Headquarters in Montreal with Regional Offices, each with a Regional Director, in Bangkok, Cairo, Dakar, Lima, Mexico, Nairobi and Paris. It has also now opened a Regional Sub Office in Beijing, the first of its kind.


The highest level of governance is the Assembly of all 192 States which meets every three years. The Assembly sets the budget for the ensuing three years, and hence the levels of assessments paid by States; elects the ICAO Council; and passes Assembly Resolutions which set global aviation policy.

The ICAO Council is responsible for day to day governance and other specific tasks which are specified in the Convention. It is comprised of 36 States, ensuring equitable geographic representation, and meets in three 8-10 week Sessions each year. The Council elects a President, which is a salaried position, for a term of three years; the President is limited to two terms. The current President is Dr Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu from Nigeria whose term started on 1 January 2014 and following his re-election will conclude on 31 December 2019.

The Council’s work is carried out through Committees comprising members of Council.  The Committees and their current Chairs are:

  • Air Transport - Samuel Campbell Lucas (Australia)
  • Joint Support - Ali Riza Çolak (Turkey)
  • Finance - Víctor M. Aguado (Spain)
  • Unlawful Interference - Martial Pagé (Canada)
  • Technical Cooperation - Raoul Maixent Ondzotto (Congo)
  • Human Resources - Ms. Mercy Beatrice Awori (Kenya)
  • Implementation and Strategy Planning Group - Ms Aysha Alhameli (UAE).

The Air Navigation Commission (ANC) is comprised of 19 independent Commissioners elected by Council. Its duties are to provide technical advice to the Council as specified in the Convention. The President of the ANC is elected by the Council for a one-year term and is not salaried. The current President of the ANC is Claude Hurley from Canada whose term started on 1 January 2018.

Meeting Structure

ICAO relies heavily on advice from the States and has a categorization of meetings depending on the expected representation and the relationship with the Council:

Category 1 – Assembly Sessions and Diplomatic Conferences:

These are high-level meeting which may include Ministers and Directors General of Civil Aviation. Decisions are made at these meetings which may apply directly to States and/ or instruct the Council on its future actions.

Category 2 – Divisional Meetings, Regional Air Navigation Meetings, and Conferences:

These are formal meetings, usually attended by Directors General of Civil Aviation, with an output (report, conclusions and/or recommendations) that presents policy recommendations to the Council.

Category 3 – Panels, Committees and Groups:

These are meetings of a technical group of States and industry experts that presents technical recommendations to the Council, Air Navigation Commission or a Standing Committee of the Council.

Category 4 – Seminars and Symposia:

These are meetings open to all which serve to disseminate and exchange information and do not result in any formal recommendations or conclusions. A symposium consists of a large group of people often targeting a specific audience; a seminar is smaller in scale and scope providing a detailed discussion on one subject, often regional in scope, with some interactivity between invited speakers and participants.


The Secretary General is elected and appointed by the Council for three years (also with a two-term limit). This individual is the Chief Executive Officer of the Organization responsible for delivering the policy agreed by the Council, and for providing advice to the Council on emerging policy development. The current Secretary General is Fang Liu from China and her mandate runs until 31 July 2021.

The Secretary General manages the work of the organization through the Bureau Directors: Air Navigation – Steve Creamer (USA); Air Transport – Boubacar Djibo (Niger); Administration and Services – Vincent Smith (UK); Legal – Jiefang HUANG (China); and Technical Cooperation – Jorge Vargas Araya (Costa Rica). The Regional Offices report to the Secretary General and are primarily engaged in implementation and assistance to States in the Region.

ICAO Strategic Objectives

ICAO has five Strategic Objectives effective 1 January 2014: Safety; Air Navigation Capacity and Efficiency; Security and Facilitation; Economic Development of Air Transport; and Environmental Protection.

For more information contact:

Michael Rossell

Deputy Director General