The Interim Assembly of PICAO


Guide Book for the Delegates attending the Interim Assembly

The Provisional International Civil Aviation Organization (PICAO) was composed of the Interim Assembly, the Interim Council and the Secretariat. The PICAO Interim Assembly held its first and only meeting from 21 May to 7 June 1946, in Montreal’s Windsor Hotel. The Assembly comprised representatives of forty-four Member States, observers from ten non-member States (Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala, Iran, Italy, Panama, Siam, Uruguay, Yugoslavia), and eight international organizations (CITEJA, IATA, ICAN, ILO, ITU, ICC, UNO, UPU). These numbers serve as a reminder of the importance attached by the aviation world to PICAO’s work and progress.


Although the Assembly was held at the Windsor Hotel, some of the meetings were held at the Dominion Square Building (10th floor). Dr. Edward Warner, President of Interim Council, was acting President of the First Interim Assembly until Mr. Louis de Brouckère, Chairman of the Belgian Delegation, was elected President of the Assembly on 22 May; the latter had spent much of his life in the world of aviation and brought all his skills and experience to bear on the issues at hand. In addition to the Committee on Rules and Procedure, the Credentials Committee and the Executive Committee, the Interim Assembly established five Commissions as follows: General Policy of ICAO, Air Navigation - Technical, Air Transport (Economic), Legal Questions, Administration and Finance. Each of these commissions was further divided into various subcommittees.


This Assembly was originally scheduled from 21 May until Sunday 8 June 1946, but ended in fact on 7 June.  The session closed with two plenary meetings, one on 6 June, devoted to the selection of the site of the permanent organization and the filling of the existing vacancy on the Interim Council (left by the USSR), and the other on 7 June, at which the Assembly considered the final reports of the Commissions.


The goal of the Interim Assembly was to discuss, among other things, the steps to be taken so as to ensure that the transition from the provisional to the permanent organization proceed smoothly and without interruption in the work. Like the Interim Council, the structures of the Interim Assembly of PICAO, the secretariat and the various committees and commissions were fashioned along the same lines as those envisioned for the permanent organizations and set out in the Chicago Convention. Maintaining a kind of continuity between the provisional and the permanent organization was an end in itself.


The only hotly discussed item was whether to fill the remaining 21st vacant seat on the Interim Council, which had been reserved for the USSR by the Chicago Conference in 1944. The Soviets did not attend the first meetings of the Interim Council nor the Interim Assembly. However, according to Article III, Section 1 of the Interim Agreement on International Civil Aviation Organization, any vacancy on the Interim Council shall be filled by the Assembly at its next meeting. The Interim Assembly eventually decided to fill the vacancy on the Council and Ireland (32 votes for Ireland, 6 for Argentina and 1 for South Africa) was elected, especially due to Dublin’s impressive contribution to the Atlantic Regional Meeting held earlier in March 1946 (e.g. the forerunner of a series of regional air navigation meetings held during the PICAO years). It is to be noted that it took another 24 years before the USSR decided to ratify the Chicago Convention; the notification of adherence of the latter country was deposited on 15 October 1970.


Article 45 of the Chicago Convention states that the permanent seat of ICAO would be decided at the final meeting of PICAO’s Interim Assembly; the question was of course whether or not this meeting of the Assembly would be also its last. Canada with its links to both the Western Hemisphere and Europe could act as a bridge between the two; moreover, it was desirable to have the Organization located in a country which is not one of largest, but which had achieved great things in aviation. On 6 June 1946, Montreal was selected as the permanent headquarters of the Organization, by 27 votes; the other candidates’ cities obtained respectively: Paris 9 votes, Geneva 4 votes, a city not named in China 1 vote. The choice of Montreal proposed by Chile was supported by Peru, the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. Why was Montreal selected? While insisting on the excellent hospitality offered since of the beginnings of PICAO by the federal, provincial and municipal authorities, the delegates described Montreal like a roundabout of the international means of communication and a strategic center with a formidable economic, scientific, technical and aeronautical expansion being felt for a few years. One insisted on the vast spaces of the Canadian territory, offering unlimited possibilities for the scientific and practical experiments in the field of aviation. Moreover, PICAO was to be established as close as possible to the central head office of the United Nations.


At the time of the Assembly, only eight signatory states had ratified the Chicago Convention; moreover, considered as observer delegation at the opening of the Assembly, Argentina deposited its notification of adherence to the Convention on the last day of the Interim Assembly (i.e. 7 June 1946). The Assembly passed 53 resolutions dealing with a variety of topics.


As per above picture showing the Windsor Hall of the Windsor Hotel, Montreal, on 21 May 1946, the first day of the PICAO Assembly, the opening session was attended by some 400 people in all from every part of the world.



First Interim Assembly of PICAO

Mr. L. De Brouckère (right), Belgium Minister of State and Chairman of the Belgian Delegation, is congratulated by Dr. Edward Warner following his election as President of the Assembly at the Windsor Hotel, Montréal.

Note that the design of the name holder seems quite similar to the pin used at the time of the First Session of ICAO Assembly held in 1947.



Heading of the Daily journal for the Delegates attending the Interim Assembly.



Mr. Harold Vaage was the Officer in Charge of Document Distribution

during the Interim Assembly.