304. Editorial Note

The Triennial Assembly of the ICAO convened in Buenos Aires on September 3, 1968, and continued for the next 3 weeks. During that time an attempt to hijack a Canadian plane was thwarted, but one American and two Colombian aircraft were forced to fly to Cuba. ICAO Director General Hammarskjold proposed a resolution on the hijacking issue in the ICAO plenary session. (Telegram 4815 from Buenos Aires, September 24; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Central Files, 1967–69, AV 3 ICAO) The resolution urged states to become parties to the Tokyo Convention “as soon as possible” and encouraged them, even before ratification of or adherence to it, “to give effect to the principles of Article II of that Convention.” It also requested that the ICAO Council institute a study of other measures which could be taken to cope with the growing problem. The vote in both the legal committee and the plenary session in favor of the resolution was unanimous. (Letter from Macomber to Fascell, October 3; ibid., AV 12 US)

The Cuban delegate raised no objection to the resolution, but was critical of the United States: “Cuba agrees with the concern over hijacking… . At no time has Cuba encouraged such seizures. We consider that the mere fact of Convention ratification would not prevent hijacking. The difficulty and roots of the problem is tyranny in the United States—the massacre of Negro people and the Vietnam war. Let that cease and then hijacking will cease.” (Ibid.)

The delegates also discussed additional measures to prevent seizures and encourage the return of hijackers, but “at least two delegations (Spain and UK) indicated some skepticism that their governments would agree to do anything against the concept of political asylum.” (Telegram 4815 from Buenos Aires, September 24; ibid.)