Beijing Convention and Protocol on Aviation Security Adopted

Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
September 14, 2010

On September 10, a diplomatic conference meeting in Beijing, China adopted two new counterterrorism treaties devoted to improving aviation security: The 2010 Beijing Convention on the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Relating to International Civil Aviation and the 2010 Beijing Protocol to the 1971 Hague Convention on the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft. In signing the treaties for the United States, the head of the U.S. delegation, Clifton Johnson, stated “[o]n the eve of the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the United States can think of no more fitting and hopeful way to mark that occasion than with the adoption of these two new major counterterrorism instruments. The Beijing Convention and Beijing Protocol will significantly strengthen the existing international counterterrorism legal framework and facilitate the prosecution and extradition of those who seek to commit acts of terror – including the kinds of heinous attacks that appalled the international community on September 11, 2001…. The United States is pleased to join our Chinese hosts and other delegations in being among the first signatories to these important new treaties.”

These new treaties will require parties to criminalize a number of new and emerging threats to the safety of civil aviation, including using aircraft as a weapon. These new treaties reflect the international community’s shared effort to prevent, prosecute, and punish those who would commit acts such as those committed during 9/11. These Conventions also update provisions to promote cooperation between states in combating terrorism directed against civil aviation while emphasizing the human rights and fair treatment of terrorist suspects. Ambassador Benjamin, the Department of State’s Coordinator for Counterterrorism, stated, “these treaties have filled gaps in our civil aviation security legal framework that will help keep Americans safe.”
Importantly, the 2010 Beijing Convention will also require states to criminalize the transport of biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons and related material. Such provisions reflect the nexus between non-proliferation and terrorism and ensure that the international community will act to combat both. Acting Assistant Secretary Vann Van Diepen declared, “this treaty will strengthen our efforts to ensure that extraordinarily dangerous materials, such as biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons, will not be transported via civil aircraft for illicit purposes and if such attempts are made, those responsible will be held accountable under the law.”

PRN: 2010/1253