Between 2 and 20 November, 2015 the Council Phase of the 206th Session of the Council took place at the ICAO Headquarters in Montreal. The Council meetings were participated by the Representative of Poland on the Council of ICAO, Dr. Malgorzata Polkowska.
Every week, the EU Coordination meetings were held. During such meetings the Council Representatives of EU countries discussed their common European approach and position on certain topics and planned any additional meetings when necessary. On November 2, 2015 the WGGE Sub-group on Policy Mapping and Development, which the Polish Delegation is a member of, met in order to discuss and decide upon the definitions of “administrative instruction” and “policy” in order to be able to continue with the group’s task. The Russian Delegation and the Polish Delegation presented their proposals. The Polish Delegation’s proposal was based on a legislative approach and supported by Bolivia. The definition of “policy” as proposed by the Secretariat was based on principles arising from the Chicago Convention. “Administrative instruction” was defined as instruments which implement such policies. The Polish Delegation proposed expanding the definition of “policy” so that they may be derived from a wider range of sources, not limited to the Chicago Convention. Such a solution would allow for the possibility of more documents being included within the definition of “policy”. The Russian Delegation’s approach, supported by the USA Delegation proposed continuing with the functionalist approach and not agreeing upon a definition as other UN organizations operate without one. It was agreed that the possible definitions would be revisited once the task of mapping administrative instructions with the existing policies is concluded. In the afternoon on the same day, the first Council meeting of the 206th Session took place. The meeting began with a minute of silence held for the victims of the Russian plane crash over Egypt’s Sinai Desert on 31 October, 2015. Following that, both the Egyptian and Russian Delegates spoke about cooperating in the investigation of the crash. During the meeting, the first agenda item discussed was the possibility of using an electronic voting system during the 39th Session of the Assembly. The Council approved the use of the system, but requested a review of other options and their costs as well. The system proposed by the Secretariat was quite costly according to the Council. Next the Council considered supporting documentation for the election of Member States and agreed to recommend the maximum number of States to be elected in the three parts of the election should be eleven, twelve, and thirteen respectively. Some budgetary issues regarding the Administrative and Operational Services Cost (AOSC) budget estimates were also discussed. An oral report was then presented by the Technical Cooperation Bureau (TCB) on the results and conclusions of the Customer Satisfaction Surveys of ICAO Technical cooperation activities, conducted by McGill University. The Council requested that a Secretariat Action Plan be developed to address the report’s findings and recommendations, and agreed that a similar exercise should be conducted on a more regular basis than once every three years.
On November 3, 2105, the second meeting of the Working Group on Government and Efficiency took place. Items up for discussion concerned the agenda for the upcoming 39th Session of the ICAO Assembly as well as the “No Country Left Behind” campaign, the Work Programme of the Council and its Committees for the 207th Session and the ICAO Publications Policy. Reports on the workings of the subgroups on Performance Management (SGPM) and Corporate Risk Register and Assurance Framework (SGRA) were also presented. With regards to the SGPM report, the WGGE Chairperson of the WGGE asked for the group to continue its efforts based on the developing budget of ICAO and encouraged other delegations to send their proposed KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to the Representative of Nigeria – the Chairperson of the SGPM subgroup. The Polish Representative is also a member of the SGPM subgroup. The Chairperson of the SGRA subgroup (the Australian Representative) announced a workshop during the upcoming 207th Committee Phase while reporting on the activities of the group. On November 4, 2015 the second meeting of the Council took place. The Council considered the recommendations and conclusions of the Facilitation Panel (FALP/8) and agreed to continue to audit only security-related Standards and communicable disease processes contained in Annex 9 – Facilitation. The Council went on to approve the Organization and Agenda for the Twenty-seventh Meeting of the Aviation Security Panel (AVSECP/27) which will take place on 14-18 March 2016 at ICAO Headquarters in Montreal. Other documents concerned recommendations of the Joint Support Committee Related to Items under the Danish and Icelandic Joint Financing agreements reviewed during the 206th session and Harmonization of the ICAO Anti-fraud and Anti-corruption Policy. The Council also discussed the Work Programme of the Evaluation and Internal Audit Office (EAO) for the year 2016. The Polish Representative enquired, amongst others, about the internal auditing process for information technology and the possibility of including an audit of the user-to-device ration within the organization in order to be able to increase efficiency. She later met with the Chief of the EAO as proposed by the Secretariat to discuss this option. The Report on the Evaluation of External Stakeholder Perspectives on ICAO raised a series of questions and doubts expressed by members of the Council. The Secretariat was requested to clarify ICAO’s engagement with the aviation industry. Important factors raised were transparency and the consolidation of rules governing the cooperation of the aviation industry with ICAO. In the afternoon there was an informal briefing on No Country Left Behind-related initiatives, the ICAO World Aviation Forum and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It was presented by Directors of the Air Transport Bureau (ATB) and the Air Navigation Bureau (ANB). The Polish Representative suggested with regards to the NCLB initiatives encouraging countries which are “unwilling” to progress. The Representative suggested defining this term more precisely and further finding the sources of a country’s unwillingness in order for ICAO to be able to address it and better assist the State. On November 5, 2015, the day started off and concluded with an EU Coordination meeting with the President of ECAC along with the Executive Secretary of ECAC. During the evening meeting, the President of ECAC discussed the outcomes of the meetings with Regional Group leaders regarding the country elections during the upcoming Assembly. Throughout the day the ECAC President also met with different delegations to hold bilateral talks regarding the adoption of MBMs (market based measures) through ICAO. In the afternoon, the Air Navigation Commission (ANC) held a Special Meeting to celebrate its 200th Session, which the President and Secretary General of ICAO also attended. Presentations given addressed the contributions of the ANC Community (including the contribution of its 17 specialist panels) to ICAO challenges today and in the future regarding safety, including SARPs. The cooperation between ANC Commissioners and the ICAO Secretariat, Council, and Regional Bureaus was discussed. There was also an award ceremony during which Mr. Rob Butcher from Australia received the Walter Binghai Award.
The third meeting of the Council took place on Friday, November 6, 2015. The first item was the appointment of an external auditor of ICAO for the financial years of 2017-2018-2019. The Council agreed to provisionally offer the current External Auditor of ICAO. Next the Council elected a new chairperson for the Human Resources Committee (HRC) due to the departure of the previous Chairperson and Representative of Egypt. The Council approved the nomination by the Representative of Egypt and elected Mrs. Maria Helena Faleiro T. de Almeida (Portugal) as Chairperson of the HRC for the remainder of the period until the next Assembly. Finally, an oral report was presented by the Chairperson of the WGGE on progress made by the sub-group on Performance Management (SGPM). The President of the Council urged the Representatives to actively assist in the development of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in order to optimize the results. At the end of the meeting the Council noted the progress made on pending issues previously raised in the Relations with the Host Country Committee (RHCC). On November 9, 2015 an informal briefing was presented by a representative of the Dutch Safety Board (DSB), Prof. van Asselt, on the recommendations of the DSB following the shooting down of flight MH17 in July 2014. Prof. van Asselt mentioned the 6 countries which took part in the investigation of the flight: Australia, The Netherlands, Malaysia, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In her presentation, Prof. van Asselt focused on a few recommendations such as managing airspace over conflict zones, risk assessment, the liability of operators (including IATA), and actions taken by ICAO – i.e. sharing information about conflicts, modifying standards, facilitating the exchange of experiences and best practices amongst countries. Next, the Representative of Russia on the Council of ICAO took the floor and stated the necessity of carrying out another technical investigation of the MH17 incident, an area in which Russia has plenty of experience. He also highlighted that ICAO should continue to work on recommendations in this area. The President of the Council of ICAO supported the proposal to continue the work of ICAO with the participation of industry players. He added that several actions have already been undertaken, for example the convening of a Task Force on Flight Tracking and Conflict Zones and a Task Force on Risks to Civil Aviation arising from Conflict Zones. He also promised to continue discussions on these matters in the Council and the ANC.
On November 9, 2015 a Finance Committee (FIC) meeting was held. Topics discussed were, amongst others, the budget of the organization, and the use of any surplus for ad hoc issues within ICAO, such as those following the MH-17 crash. The possibility of increasing member state contributions for this purpose was ruled out. Another paper discussed concerned the budget coordination mechanism. The Council decided during its discussions that there is a need to consolidate the budget with the business plan of the organization and uphold the budget within the Zero Nominal Growth level. The problem of understaffing, restructuring (including the elimination of Deputy Director posts within ICAO), limiting access to translation services, etc. were mentioned. The Council noticed a need to save resources through for example organizing more teleconferences, utilizing Skype instead of paying for travel expenses of ICAO employees). At the same time however, a need to organize ICAO conferences and symposiums on environmental protection was acknowledged. In the afternoon the Council discussed the Progress Report of the Monitoring and Assistance Review Board (MARB). It was noted that not all the information is conveyed to the Council about the progress of projects and the experts taking part in them. Because of this it is not known whether any issues with continuing projects are linked to the political situation in a given State or to a different cause. If the cause of a particular issue is not known then ICAO is not able to assist a State properly. The Secretariat should support actions aiming to disseminate information and provide assistance. Next, the “Safety week” began for the ICAO Council, meaning discussions of ANC documents began. This part of the Council meeting began with a presentation by the ANB on State implementation of Annexes and their amendments (including Amendment 19) and related issues. The ANC also presented actions taken up by ICAO in relation to establishing conflict zones and the mechanisms for doing so. It was stated that the provisional procedure for invoking this mechanism has been approved by the Council. The deadline for member States to submit any comments in response to the State Letter issued in this regard will pass in December 2015 (so far no responses have been received). At the moment ICAO is in the process of verifying the recommendations made by the Dutch Safety Board and I preparing its response to the Netherlands. The ANB informed the Council of its accomplishments in 2015 in amending Annexes and organizing symposia (including ones on RPAS and Aerospace) and announced further amendments and safety plan reviews to be completed in 2016. Next, the Council began discussing the Report of the ANC – Adoption of Amendment 39 to Annex 6, Part 1, which introduces a standard requiring operators to track the position of an aeroplane at an interval of at least 15 minutes. In Europe the equivalent standard requires a minimum interval of 3 minutes, however such an option cannot be implemented globally. The proposal put forward by ICAO in this amendment does not exclude countries or regions from adopting more rigorous standards like the European one, but on a global scale this is not possible taking into account the differing regions and their technological capabilities. This above discussion continued at the beginning of the fifth meeting of the Council on the next day. The Polish Representative enquired about the possible kinds of assistance States might receive from ICAO when it comes to implementation of the amendment and possible issues in providing them. The Council adopted the proposed amendments to definitions and to SARPs in Annex 6, with the applicability date of 8 November 2018 being set. Next an oral report was presented by the Representative of Libya, the Chairperson of Repository Review Group (RRG) on the last few meetings of the RRG. Members of the group include China, Japan, Libya, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The achievements of the group will be presented during the next session of the Council in 2016. The Council reviewed the implementation and progress of the conflict zone information repository (CZIR) and provided input on necessary improvements to its functionality. The repository brings together over 3,5 thousand users from 137 countries. Sixty nine focal points have been set (Poland and CERG countries being amongst them), which also include 2 organizations: EUROCONTROL and ASECNA. The Russian delegation mentioned the lack of acceptance of certain countries (11 in total, including Russia) due to the selection procedure. Following that, a Report on the outcome of the meeting of the Special Group to Review the Application of ICAO Treaties relating to Conflict Zones (SGRAIT-CZ) was presented by the Secretary General. It was decided among other things that there is no need to amend the Chicago Convention at the current stage of progress and that ICAO will continue to focus on amending the existing procedures and Annexes on this issue. The Polish Representative suggested creating a timeline or even an online platform in order to coordinate all the elements of the group’s work programme while updating and sharing data between all parties involved. The Council noted that more consideration should be given to closing the airspace of States involved in armed conflicts and that more incentives are needed to encourage them to do so. It was established (and supported by the Polish Representative) that the information about the report will be presented during the 36th Session of the Legal Committee on 30 November – 3 December 2015. Finally the ANC Work Programme for the 201st Session was presented and approved. The final item up for discussion was the Report on the evaluation of the Comprehensive Regional Implementation Plan for Aviation Safety in Africa (AFI Plan), which was readily approved. The Polish Representative suggested that the proposals of the plan take the form of a chart or roadmap divided into phases or steps with goals to achieve in order to increase the commitment from the States involved through higher visibility and control.
Under the “any other business” part of the agenda, the Polish Representative gave a speech on the occasion of Poland’s National Day and explained that it was the reason traditional dougnuts “ponki” had been given out to all the Delegations that day. She also invited the members of the Council to a concert organized by the Polish Library at McGill University. During the Council meeting on Friday, 13 November 2015, the Annual Report of the Evaluation and Audit Advisory Committee (EAAC) was presented. The UAE was supported by many States in their proposal to establish a working group to conduct a holistic review of the Internal Audit Office’s (EAO) resources to facilitate its autonomy. The current internal auditor, Mr. Jonathan Moor, was sent off and thanked for all his work thus far. He agreed to participate in January 2016 in a workshop on risk assessment in ICAO organized for the Council members. Various reports were issued by the WGGE regarding the agenda for the 39th Session of the Council as well as the activities of its sub-groups, which the Polish Representative is a member of. The papers concerned Revised Draft Provisional Agenda for the 39th Session of the Assembly 2016), ICAO Publications Policy, and Report of the Council Committee on Cooperation with Third Parties CC3P, whose Vice-Chairperson is the Representative of Poland. The Report of the Strategy Planning Group (SPG) regarding the Council Off-site Strategy Meeting was also presented.
On November 16, 2015 the Human Resources Committee (HRC) held a meeting. The Committee reviewed candidates for D-1 and D-2 posts in the Secretariat. A shortlist of candidates was compiled for each and the final decision was left in confidence to the Secretary General. The Working Group of the HRC presented an oral report on their second meeting, during which the working group reviewed the recruitment process and made changes resulting in greater transparency of the whole process. The need to compile a policy for the appointment of seconded staff (delegated by a State to work in ICAO and also funded by it) as well as consultants was observed. Some issues were raised regarding conflicts of interest and financial disclosure of candidates for ICAO posts. During the afternoon Council Session on the same day, a moment of silence was held for the victims of the terrorist attacks which occurred in Paris on November 13, 2015. Many delegations expressed their condolences for France and all the victims of the attacks. The first item on the agenda was the Secretary General’s response to the Charter Letter which was thoroughly discussed. The Polish Delegation enquired about how the Secretary General specifically will address potential threats. The Secretary General responded that the Secretariat always needs to be vigilant and foresee emergencies in order for ICAO to take on any threat on time and address it properly. The Secretariat is now developing a mechanism and procedure for addressing threats and will get back to the Council on the matter. The following topic was Council President Awards/Certificates of recognition. The Polish Delegation took the floor once again and suggested the establishment of different categories of awards to encourage countries to prioritize improving standards in certain categories. The Secretary General stated that the aim of such an award would be to encourage countries to raise standards. The President of the Council approved the criteria contained in the working paper with one amendment, to try as much as reasonably possible to award one Certificate per region, and supported the Venezuelan Representative’s suggestion to invite the country who receives the award to ICAO for a ceremony. The FIC (Finance Committee) presented an oral report on the Actuarial study of the long-term impact of the after-service health insurance ASHI Scheme. Next the budget and business plan for the Ancillary Revenue Generation Fund (ARGF) for 2016 and the Budget Coordination Mechanism were also presented by the FIC. The Secretary General addressed the question of how the Business Plan of the Organization fits with the budget and structure of the organization. The Portuguese Delegation suggested they could be bridged together, with different scenarios presented for the budget. Under the “any other business” part of the agenda, the President suggested adopting a resolution on the importance of environmental protection within international aviation. In this way the President alluded to the resolution of the previous Assembly and the upcoming COP21 in Paris in December 2015.
The Council meeting on 18 November started off with a secret ballot for the election of the ANC President, which resulted in the current President, Mr. Farid Zizi being re-elected for another term. The French Delegation’s candidate received 20 votes, while the Japanese Delegation’s candidate received 14. One member of the Council abstained from their vote. Next, many environmental matters were discussed. The oral report of the Secretary General presenting a report on the Capacity Building for CO2 Mitigation from International Aviation was read. Working papers regarding recent developments in environmental protection in ICAO and other United Nations Bodies and international organizations were also presented. The Representative of Burkina Faso proposed that countries should share their success, not just receive assistance and leave but to inform other countries what its impact has been in this regard. The Representatives of Australia and Mexico were in agreement that what is important are any additional activities with respect to the Sustainable Development Goals which should figure very well within the budget, all these comments were supported by the President of the Council. He also highlighted that with regards to state actions plans –the member states of ICAO are in different stages of submission. There were also mentioned attempts to create an automatic system for transmitting information on CO2 emissions, which the Secretariat encourages every state to aim to do in the future. Secretariat encourages states to submit info, later will quantify it and also encourages states to share their experiences and work together where possible. An oral report on work of the Environment Advisory Group (EAG) was presented by the Representative of Singapore. The President encouraged Council members to come to a consensus despite the difficulties that have arisen so far during over 10 EAG meetings. The President also highlighted the responsibility of the Council to come to an effective agreement before the next Assembly in 2016. During this discussion it was also decided that ICAO would continue organizing GLADS meetings in March/April 2016. The last item presented was an oral report of the WGGE – Review of the ICAO Policy Formulation Process which was completely approved. The 9th Meeting of the Council in the 206th Session took place on November 20, 2015. The first item on the agenda was the budget proposals for 2017-2018-2019. The finance committee in issuing their oral report suggested that the Secretary General do not choose one budget option during this session. Instead they requested the Secretary General to review the budget and business plan and present a suggestion during the 207th Session. The representative of the UAE suggested distributing documents earlier so that countries can exchange views among themselves and other countries they represent in their groups, which will result in shorter discussions during Council meetings. Many countries supported that the exchange rate should be taken into account in implementing the budget. The next item was the Proposal to increase the size of the Council from 36 to 39 by amending the Chicago Convention – prepared by Portugal and Saudi Arabia. The topic was discussed at several bilateral meetings between the European group and other regional Groups prior to the Council meeting. It sparked a long discussion, during which members of the Montreal group suggested that the topic should be deliberated at the 39th Assembly. The Asia pacific group mentioned that they are underrepresented, similarly to the African and Middle Eastern groups. Many Council members supported the goal of achieving a geographically balanced distribution of seats within the Council. The United States and Australia did not see a need for an increase but highlighted that it is important to discuss outstanding issues – namely the number of seats that is agreed and that any paper should express the intention of equitable geographic representation. The matter of possible early implementation was quite controversial and many States gave their opinions on the issue. The Polish Delegation stated that the bilateral meetings held throughout the week on this topic were useful and more such discussions should take place in the future before any concrete decisions are made. It also stated that more discussions should take place in order to find the best solution for the implementation of any increase. The topic of an increase of the ANC from 19 to 23 members was also discussed – generally Council members were not against the increase though it was noted that the group of countries which prepared the document, made up of Latin American, Asian, and Middle Eastern countries distributed the working paper too late for the Council to be able to discuss it in detail during this session. Many delegations (initially supported by Poland) also supported the idea of including rotation groups within the ANC in order to ensure a more balanced geographical representation within the Commission. It was also noted that the ANC cannot have too many members as this would impede the work of the experts. The most important factor here is the political will and consensus of States in principle, the details can be determined in the future. At the end of the meeting, the President summed up the conclusions of the Council. With regards to the increase of the Council and the ANC, he stated that a consensus can be observed when it comes to the extension, but an agreement as to numbers (3 or 4 seats) and the method of implementing the change in the Chicago Convention (either through the “early implementation” process which most States were sceptical of, or through introducing an amendment) will be determined at the next session. Further bilateral meetings between regional groups are likely to take place during the 207th session of the Council.
The last Council meeting took place on Friday, 20 November, 2015 to finish discussing the last items on the agenda. The new Director of the Bureau of Administration (from the UK) was appointed. The last item was the Work Programme of the Committees, which was briefly discussed and approved by the Council.