International Civil Aviation Organization
Its core function is to maintain an administrative and expert bureaucracy (the ICAO Secretariat) supporting these diplomatic interactions and to research new air transport policy and standardization innovations as directed and endorsed by governments through the ICAO Assembly, or by the ICAO Council which the assembly elects.
Industry and civil society groups, and other concerned regional and international organizations, also participate in the exploration and development of new standards at ICAO in their capacity as ‘Invited Organizations’.
As new priorities are identified by these stakeholders, the ICAO secretariat convenes panels, task forces, conferences, and seminars to explore their technical, political, socio-economic, and other aspects. It then provides governments with the best results and advice possible as they collectively and diplomatically establish new international standards and recommended practices for civil aviation internationally.
Once governments achieve diplomatic consensus around a new standard’s scope and details, it is then adopted by those same 193 countries in order to bring worldwide alignment to their national regulations, helping to realize safe, secure, and sustainable air operations on a truly global basis.
The stipulations ICAO standards contain never supersede the primacy of national regulatory requirements. It is always the local, national regulations which are enforced in, and by, sovereign states, and which must be legally adhered to by air operators making use of applicable airspace and airports.
ICAO is therefore not an international aviation regulator, just as INTERPOL is not an international police force. We cannot arbitrarily close or restrict a country’s airspace, shut down routes, or condemn airports or airlines for poor safety performance or customer service.