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Taiwan’s Meaningful Participation in the ICAO Assembly

Indeed, as a member of the international community, Taiwan shares in the responsibility of safeguarding regional and global aviation safety and is committed to contributing to the further development of global aviation and the wellbeing of all mankind.

Legal basis and recent practice

Rule 5 of the Standing Rules of Procedure of the Assembly of ICAO stipulates that “non-Contracting States and international organizations duly invited by the Council, or by the Assembly itself, to attend a session of the Assembly may be represented by observers.” This demonstrates the need for ICAO to work towards greater inclusion—not exclusion—of stakeholders, so as to achieve safe and orderly development of international civil aviation.

Meanwhile, over 40 non-contracting states and international organizations have taken part as observers in each of the recent ICAO Assemblies, including Palestine, the European Union, and the African Union; prominent civil aviation organizations such as the International Air Transport Association, Airport Council International, the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization, and the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations; and enterprises such as Aeronautical Radio, Incorporated and INECO.

Considerable precedent exists with respect to Taiwan’s participation in other UN specialized agencies. Each year since 2009, Taiwan’s minister of health and welfare has attended the World Health Assembly as an observer under the name Chinese Taipei. Also in 2009, Taiwan became a participant in the International Health Regulations of the World Health Organization. This has benefited global efforts aimed at preventing the spread of diseases.

In September 2013, the director general of Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) was invited for the first time by the president of the ICAO Council to participate in the ICAO Assembly as a guest under the name Chinese Taipei CAA. Taiwan’s participation was widely welcomed and deemed consistent with the ICAO’s goal of a seamless network for aviation safety. At the Assembly, Taiwan was able to closely observe deliberations concerning various  regulations, safeguard its interests in the global aviation sector, and share experiences and expertise with representatives from other countries.

Therefore, if Taiwan participates in ICAO meetings, activities, and mechanisms such as the Assembly, it will be able to obtain information on and respond to any major changes in international civil aviation policies and systems in a timely manner.

The importance of the Taipei FIR

The Taipei FIR covers 180,000 square nautical miles and borders four other FIRs, i.e., Fukuoka, Manila, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. It is located off mainland China’s eastern seaboard and between Japan and the Philippines. In 2015, the Taipei FIR provided services to nearly 1.53 million controlled flights carrying 58 million travelers entering, leaving, or transiting through Taiwan. Every week, Taiwan has approximately 56 scheduled flights to and from Europe, 186 to and from the United States, 600 to and from Japan, and over 1,400 to and from mainland China. Taiwan is connected to 135 cities around the globe via 301 scheduled passenger and freight routes. Since the Taipei FIR includes some of the busiest airspace in East Asia, aviation safety in it must be maintained at the highest global standard at all times to ensure regional and global mobility and economic development.

Taiwan’s CAA is the sole managing authority for the Taipei FIR. However, it has had no direct access to the ICAO for the past 40 years, and has only indirectly gained (incomplete) information on ICAO regulations and standards related to safety, management, security, and environmental protection. Taiwan has had to resort to various channels to keep up with the development of these regulations and standards and overcome the difficulties associated with a lack of transparency, so as to maintain adequate safety levels and service standards in the Taipei FIR. Taiwan is confident that, by continuing to attend the ICAO Assembly and other related meetings, it will be able to better follow the latest developments on various issues and continue to contribute to the safety and development of global civil aviation.

Taiwan should continue to connect with ICAO

  1. 1.Aligning with international standards

Per ICAO regulations, each member state shall notify respective regional offices of its requirements concerning Five-Letter Name-Codes (5LNC), so as to avoid  duplication. As Taiwan is not a member of ICAO, it is unable to acquire codes of aviation points through ICAO’s Asia and Pacific Office. Also, codes for routes and navigation procedures within the Taipei FIR are sometimes the same as those in adjacent FIRs. This often leads to situations where changes have to be made to point names after relevant announcements have already been issued by ICAO, causing tremendous inconvenience and obstacles for flight operations. Meanwhile, information related to the Taipei FIR displayed on the ICAO website is either incomplete or not fully accurate, resulting in confusion or misunderstanding of aviation operations in the Taipei FIR among foreign civil aviation organizations and companies. This interferes with ICAO’s efforts to promote international flight safety and convenience.

Currently, the CAA is still unable to obtain information on major ICAO regulations in a timely manner via existing channels. Even when the CAA does obtain information on ICAO directives via indirect channels, it must make substantial effort to understand the reasoning behind them and properly implement them. While Taiwan has never taken part in ICAO’s Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program or Universal Security Audit Program, it has spared no effort in ensuring that its measures are in full compliance with ICAO standards.

Considering that Taiwan participated in the 38th Assembly, we sincerely hope to continue to attend the Assembly in the future and share experiences and resources with other countries through this particular platform on a regular basis. If Taiwan were excluded from the Assembly, ICAO’s pursuit of a seamless sky would be obstructed. The international community must therefore recognize the need for Taiwan’s full and professional participation in ICAO.

  1. 2.Continuing to participate in the ICAO Assembly

ICAO is a UN specialized agency established in 1944 in accordance with the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention) that aims to achieve sustainable growth of the global civil aviation industry through cooperation among convention signatories. The Assembly, comprised of all member states,is held once every three years and convened by the Council. In general, it reviews in detail the policies, standards, monitoring and analysis, implementation and other aspects concerning safety, navigation services, security, environmental protection, and economic issues, which are closely related to the development of each country’s civil aviation sector.

According to the resolutions adopted by the 38th Assembly, key issues to be discussed at the 39th Assembly include the following:

(1) Safety: The Global Aviation Safety Plan (GASP) and its future development are worth monitoring closely. Through the goals and processes defined in the GASP, ICAO can help member states and regions improve flight safety, establish effective safety oversight systems, and implement State Safety Programs. In addition, in response to the various aviation safety challenges of recent years, the Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System, which covers aircraft, control, rescue operations, and information management, will be discussed.

(2) Navigation: From 2013 to 2028, countries shall follow the Global Air Navigation Plan and modernize navigation management systems, as well as adopt globally uniform Aviation System Block Upgrade modules. The goal is to facilitate even closer cooperation among neighboring regions and countries by developing integrated plans and solutions.

(3) Security: A global aviation security policy framework, as well as the implementation of the ICAO Comprehensive Aviation Security Strategy, will be discussed. In light of the complex nature of security threats, and to enhance security measures and effectively stop terrorists, Taiwan should gain access to relevant information in a comprehensive and timely manner. 

(4) Environmental protection: An aircraft emission reduction standard is to be discussed. In addition, as climate change has become a global concern, a Global Market-Based Measure (GMBM) scheme—to be implemented from 2020—will be formulated. As the carbon emissions of Taiwan’s aviation industry account for 1.8 percent of global aviation emissions, Taiwan should be given the opportunity to exchange information with the global aviation industry. This would contribute to the effectiveness of the GMBM scheme.

(5) Economic issues: The ICAO Council has been working on a draft international agreement on air transport market liberalization, as well as core principles on consumer protection, so as to ensure the interests of both consumers and the industry.

The aforementioned issues, which are all closely related, highlight the diverse challenges faced by the aviation sector and underline the importance of close cooperation among countries. Following its participation in the 38th Assembly in 2013, Taiwan seeks regular participation in the ICAO Assembly, so as to keep track of important developments concerning ICAO issues, quickly formulate detailed measures in response, and align with international standards and practices. Taiwan’s involvement in the Assembly will help ensure the safe, secure, and sustainable development of international civil aviation.

Taiwan’s regular participation in the Assembly would further contribute to the ICAO goal of a seamless sky

Taiwan occupies a critical geographical location and handles large cargo and passenger volumes. Therefore, Taiwan’s regular participation in the Assembly would contribute to realizing the regional one sky concept, as well as the ICAO goal of a seamless sky. This would benefit the aviation industry in the Asia-Pacific region and the world as a whole, and serve the interests of all parties concerned.

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