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DCL (McGill) Ph.D (Colombo), LL.M (Monash), LL.B (Colombo), FRAeS, FCILT. The author, who is a senior official at the International Civil Aviation Organization, has written this article in his personal capacity and views herein should not be attributed to ICAO or his position in the Organization.
Aviation is an important global business and a significant driver of the global economy. It is vital, therefore, that stringent measures are taken to counter acts of unlawful interference with civil aviation. Following a diplomatic conference, held in Beijing from 30 August to 10 September 2010 under the auspices of the International Civil Aviation Organization, representatives from more than 80 States adopted two international air law instruments for the suppression of unlawful acts relating to civil aviation. The two instruments are the Convention on the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Relating to International Civil Aviation and the Protocol Supplementary to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft. The Beijing Convention serves international civil aviation well, by requiring parties to criminalize a number of new and emerging threats to the safety of civil aviation, including using aircraft as a weapon and organizing, directing and financing acts of terrorism. These new treaties reflect the international community’s shared effort to prevent acts of terrorism against civil aviation and to prosecute and punish those who would commit them. The treaties promote cooperation between States while emphasizing the human rights and fair treatment of terrorist suspects. The Convention also obligates States to criminalize the transport of biological, chemical, nuclear weapons and related material. However, many provisions of the Convention, which is a new comer to aviation security in the context of some new provisions it introduces, need interpretation. This article discusses the areas in the treaty which need interpretation and clarity.
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