The ICAO Assembly


Known as the Convention on International Civil Aviation, the Chicago Convention established the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) charged with coordinating and regulating international air transport. The Convention was signed by 52 states on 7 December 1944 and came into effect on 4 April 1947.


At the time of the Chicago Convention in 1944, it was known that negotiations were proceeding on the establishment of a general organization to replace the League of Nations and to become eventually the United Nations Organization. The Agreement between the United Nations and ICAO was approved by the First Assembly on 13 May 1947 and the subsequent protocol bringing into force this agreement was signed on 3 October 1947. The UN recognized in the agreement ICAO as a Specialized Agency responsible for taking such action as may be appropriate under its basic instrument for the accomplishment of the purposes set forth therein. ICAO thus belongs to the UN family of Organizations.


According to Article 42 of the Chicago Convention, ″an organization to be named the International Civil Aviation Organization is formed by the Convention. It is made up of an Assembly, a Council, and such other bodies as may be necessary.″ All specialized agencies of the UN system have very similar structures (a typical tripartite structure), although using different terminology.


The Assembly of ICAO is legally the supreme body of the Organization, but it is not absolute; its functions and jurisdiction are determined and restricted by the Chicago Convention. According to Article 48 b) of the same Convention, ″all Contracting States shall have an equal right to be represented at the meetings of the Assembly and each contracting State shall be entitled to one vote.″


Originally, Article 48 a) of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention) said: "‘The Assembly shall meet annually and shall be convened by the Council at a suitable time and place. Extraordinary meetings of the Assembly may be held at any time upon the call of the Council or at the request of any ten Contracting States addressed to the Secretary General." At the eighth Session of the ICAO Assembly, held in Montreal from 1 to 14 June 1954, the original chronology was amended to make the Assembly a triennial event. The reason ascribed for this change is the cost consideration of travel of national delegations to meet in Montreal and the cost incurred by ICAO in convening and conducting the Assembly each year. The Amendment entered into force on 12 December 1956.


The powers and duties of the Assembly are extensively defined in eleven paragraphs of Article 49 of the Convention. The provisions in this paragraph seem to give to the Assembly such overall jurisdiction that really makes it the most powerful body of the Organization. The main features of the Assembly at that time were considered to be that it was a meeting where all contracting states came together to determine the budget of ICAO and follow the activities and progress made by the Council of ICAO.


But on the other hand, paragraphs of Article 49 in fact also seriously restrict the jurisdiction of the Assembly, as it not entitled to deal with any matter that is specifically assigned to the Council; some are of fundamental importance, such as the adoption of International Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs), which is perhaps the most important function of ICAO.


Another section of this Postal History deals extensively with the Sessions of the Assembly.


First Session of the Assembly held in Montréal from 6 to 27 May 1947.


38th Session of the Assembly held in Montréal, Canada, from 24 September to 4 October 2013.


The Assembly Hall, as designed by Luc Plante and Richard Godbout, Architects,

for Provencher Roy et Associés Architectes.


38th Session of the Assembly – Delegates in session in the Assembly Hall

(Photo Credit: Vanda D’Alonzo)


Large bronze crest of ICAO donated in 1975 by the former USSR

and mounted on the wall behind the raised podium in the Assembly Hall.