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Taiwan’s quest for meaningful participation in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Aug , 2010
A. Foreword

Pursuant to the Convention on International Civil Aviation (the Convention) signed in 1944, ICAO was founded on the belief that “the future development of international civil aviation can greatly help to create and preserve friendship and understanding among the nations and peoples of the world.” Through the formulation of and amendments to the Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPS), ICAO hopes that “international civil aviation may be developed in a safe and orderly manner.” Accordingly, ICAO promotes the development of international civil aviation on the basis of equality of opportunity and harmony, and seeks to expand international air transportation and services under the principle of universality.

In a globalized world, civil aviation plays a pivotal role in promoting cultural exchange, business, trade and tourism. As an active member in the international trade network, Taiwan works extensively with other members of the world community. However, Taiwan’s exclusion from ICAO’s efforts to promote international civil aviation development and services has created a gap in the global aviation network, adversely affecting the aviation safety and convenience of all passengers. To bridge this gap, ICAO should include Taiwan in its meetings, mechanisms and activities.

B. Taiwan’s participation in ICAO is essential for ensuring international aviation safety

1. As a key transport hub in the East Asian region, Taiwan is an indispensable part of the international civil aviation network.

The Taipei Flight Information Region (Taipei FIR) under the jurisdiction of the civil aeronautic authorities of the Republic of China (Taiwan) serves dozens of domestic and international airliners which, in total, operate more than one million flights and carry over 40 million passengers every year. However, Taiwan has been excluded from ICAO since 1971 for political reasons, which makes it impossible to contact ICAO for up-to-date information on aviation standards and norms.

2. Without Taiwan’s participation, international flight plans, regulations and procedures that ICAO formulates will be incomplete and their implementation delayed.

ICAO, with its 190 member states, sets the safety standards for global civil aviation and provides countries around the world with guidelines for formulating their domestic civil aviation laws and regulations. Given the complicated nature of today’s civil aviation system, ICAO should make appropriate arrangements to allow Taiwan to take part in relevant meetings, mechanisms and activities so that it can work with ICAO members to ensure there is no gap or weak link in the global aviation system.

3. Continuing to reject Taiwan is detrimental to international civil aviation safety

Given that it is denied participation in ICAO, Taiwan cannot obtain the latest amendments to international regulations, cannot take part in ICAO activities and cannot receive ICAO technical assistance. As a result, Taiwan has to turn to alternative channels to gather related information and amend the related regulations and procedures accordingly. This has had a negative impact on the government’s administrative efficiency, as well as on the efficacy and competitiveness of Taiwan’s civil aviation industry.

If general security of international civil aviation is to be assured, ICAO should include Taiwan in its work on aviation safety supervision, security audits and aviation security management. ICAO should also invite Taiwan to participate in technical meetings and training courses.

C. Taiwan hopes to participate meaningfully in ICAO and calls for the international community’s attention and support

Aviation safety and security transcends national borders. The Convention of 1944 aimed to foster international cooperation and promote world peace, and ICAO was established to encourage universal participation. As Taiwan’s civil aviation and related services are geographically significant to the development of international aviation, ICAO should invite Taiwan to attend its meetings as an observer, and make appropriate arrangements to involve Taiwan in important mechanisms and activities, such as Public Key Directory (PKD). ICAO must involve Taiwan in order to truly fulfill the Convention’s objective that “international air transport services may be established on the basis of equality of opportunity and operated soundly and economically”.

We call upon the international community to acknowledge the potentially dangerous consequences that Taiwan’s continued exclusion from ICAO could have on international aviation security and we urge ICAO to find ways to let Taiwan participate directly in the international civil aviation system.