United States Participation in Drafting Paris Convention 1919
John C. Cooper, United States Participation in Draft ing Paris Convention
United States Participation in Draft ing Paris Convention 1919
John C. Cooper 0
0 Professor of Law and Director, Institute of International Air Law, McGill University , Montreal; Legal Adviser , International Air Transport Association; Member, Air Law Committee, International Law Association (London); Formerly, Member, Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton) , 1946-51; Vice President, Pan American Airways, 1934-46
UNITED STATES PARTICIPATION IN
DRAFTING PARIS CONVENTION 1919
By JOHN C. COOPER
HE extent of United States participation in the preparation and
drafting of the Convention relating to the Regulation of Aerial
Navigation (Paris 1919) has been little appreciated. The fact that the
United States signed this convention but did not ratify it is well known.
But the more important fact that its delegates took a leading part in
urging the adoption of certain of the basic principles of the convention,
and that its representative on the Legal Subcommission cast a crucial
deciding vote which may have changed much of the subsequent
development of the international law of commercial entry of the aircraft of
one contracting State into the territory of another, is practically
The Paris Convention (as it will be referred to hereafter) was
drafted by the Aeronautical Commission of the Peace Conference in
Paris in 1919. The delegates of the United States on the Commission
were Rear-Admiral H. S. Knapp, U.S. Navy, and Major-General M.
M. Patrick, U.S. Army. Their report submitted to the Secretary of
State of the United States, dated.from Paris 10 July 1919,1 together
with the official minutes of the Aeronautical Commission, 2 and the
verbatim stenographic report of the meetings of the Legal Subcommission
of the Aeronautical Commission s constitute original source material
which no student of the period should overlook. As stated by the
United States delegates, the background of the organization of the
Aeronautical Commission was as follows:
"The Aeronautical Commission of the Peace Conference was
formed as the result of an invitation made by M. Clemenceau,
President of the Preliminary Peace Conference, in his letter of 25
January, 1919, to the principal Allied and Associated Powers, in
which he proposed that such a body be created. Considerable
correspondence took place between Heads of Governments, and finally
the President of the United States authorized participation by the
United States on the new Aviation Committee, and the American
Delegates received appointments as the representatives of the
United States on the Inter-Allied Aviation Committee. The first
meeting of this Committee took place on the 6th March, 1919....
"The Aeronautical Commission was formally recognized by the
Supreme Council of the Peace Conference by communications dated
the 12th and 15th March, 1919 . . ." 4
The formal action of the Supreme Council of the Peace Conference
referred to by the United States delegates was contained in the
resolution prepared and introduced by Balfour of Great Britain, to which
Clemenceau (France) and Lansing (United States) consented, as
"It is agreed
1. That the existing aviation Commission, consisting of two
representatives each of the United States of America, the British
Empire, France, Italy and Japan, with five representatives of other
States at the Conference shall be recognised and invited to
Aerial matters arising out of the work of the Preliminary
Peace Conference or referred by the Commissions set up
by the Conference.
(b) A Convention in regard to International Aerial Navigation
in time of peace.
2. That the question of the commercial aviation to be allowed to
Germany be referred to this Commission." 5
When the Commission was finally set up, it actually consisted of
two delegates from each of the following States: United States of
America, Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan; and one delegate from each
of the following seven States: Belgium, Brazil, Cuba, Greece, Portugal,
Rumania and Serbia. A very considerable part of the work of this
Commission was devoted to military problems, particularly the effort to
prevent or limit German air rearmament after the conclusion of peace.
The historic failure of this effort must be charged to the Supreme War
Council and not the Aeronautical Commission, whose views were
overridden." These current military problems did have some effect on the
drafting of the Paris Convention, but not nearly so much so as has
been sometimes charged. The men who actually wrote the convention
were civilians and international lawyers familiar with much of the
historic development of international transport law, although the basic
principles on which the convention was founded were adopted by the
Aeronautical Commission itself which consisted largely of military and
naval officers. The Legal Subcommission, which actually prepared the
convention, did not meet until after these principles had been agreed
On March 17, 1919 the Aeronautical Commission met to examine
"the fundamental principles which should be adopted for air
navigation in such manner as to permit the Subcommissions to take up their
work following the directives fixed by the Commission." Present among
others were Admiral Knapp and General Patrick for the United States,
assisted by Col. E. S. Gorrell, who in later life became president of the
Air Transport Association of America. The United States delegates
took an immediate and decisive part in directing the course of the
discussion. On the motion of Admiral Knapp the Commission adopted
as its first principle the acceptance of the rule that each State is
sovereign in the airspace above its territory, as follows:
"1. Recognition: (
) of the principle of the full and absolute
sovereignty of each State over the air above its territories and
territorial waters, carrying with it the right of exclusion of foreign
) of the right of each State to impose its jurisdiction over the
air above its territory and territorial waters."
As its second principle, the Commission adopted the following:
"2. Subject to the principle of sovereignty, recognition of the
desirability of the greatest freedom of international air navigation
in so far as this freedom is consistent with the security of the State,
with the enforcement of reasonable regulations relative to the
admission of aircraft of the contracting States and with the domestic
legislation of the State."
On motion of General Patrick, it was decided that this principle
would apply only to contracting States and not to all foreign States.
This was clarified by the third principle adopted by the Commission
"3. With regard to domestic regulations relative to the
admission and treatment of the aircraft of the contracting States,
recognition of the principle of the absence of all discrimination on the
ground of nationality."
While no dissenting voice was heard on the acceptance of the
principle of national airspace sovereignty, sharp differences later developed
as to the extent to which aircraft of contracting States should be
authorized by the convention itself to have commercial privileges into and
through the territory (including the airspace) of other contracting
States. It is interesting to note that the delegates of the United States
took so positive a position on the subject, when the United States had
taken practically no part in official discussions prior to World War I
as to the extent of the right of a State to control the use of its airspace
by foreign States.'
The United States had made no preparations prior to the Peace
Conference to assist in drafting a post-war convention for the
regulation of international peacetime air navigation. On the contrary, both
Great Britain and France had given careful and extensive thought to
the subject and had prepared drafts of proposed conventions and
international regulations. The official minutes of the Aeronautical
Commission contain both British and French proposals for an international
convention. But the evidence is incontrovertible that draft
conventions were also prepared by the delegates of the United States
(apparently while the Aeronautical Commission was in session) and were
circulated to other delegations and were actually considered and used
in the final draft of the convention. The report of the United States
delegates to the Secretary of State says: "Draft Conventions relating to
International Air Navigation, as drawn up by the Delegates of Great
Britain, France, Italy and the United States were exchanged among
the various Delegations and served as a basis for discussion and solution
of the questions presented to the Sub-Commissions in their work of
drawing up an international Convention. (Copies of these drafts
appended, marked C-1 to C-6 enclosed herewith)."
The exhibits to the United States delegates' report are actually as
follows: C-l, the British draft convention just as it appears in the
minutes of the Aeronautical Commission, with added notes and
comments by the United States delegation; C-2, a provisional draft of
regulations for adoption in Great Britain to cover civil aviation "pending
the settlement of an international convention;" C-3, an English
translation of the draft convention proposed by France, together with added
notes and comments by the United States delegation; C-4, an American
draft international convention; C-5, a second American draft; C-6, a
document entitled "Italian Proposed Draft Convention for Air Navi"
gation,"' but correctly described in its sub-title as "Italian Air Ministry
Proposal for Aerial Navigation Laws."
The evidence in the report is not clear as to which of the two
United States drafts stated the final position of the delegation.
However, comparison of the texts (to be discussed hereafter) and other
evidence clearly indicates that the second draft stated the official United
States position. The first draft (C-4) comprised thirty articles and
seemed to be nothing more than a redraft of the British proposal. The
second American draft (C-5) comprised twenty-six articles, was more
7 My own extensive and as yet unpublished research on the historical
development of the law as to the right of a State in the airspace above its surface
territories indicates that without question the rule of national airspace
sovereignty was an accepted and generally understood part of international law prior
to the outbreak of World War I, that the acts of States during the war were
consistent with the existence of this rule, and that the attacks on the rule prior
to World War I were purely doctrinal and never accepted or supported by any
formal position of any State in the international community. The Paris
Convention did nothing more than restate the existing international law on the
condensed, and varied in important details from the'British proposal.
A copy of this draft was furnished after the Peace Conference by
General Patrick to Mr. Ray Stannard Baker and appears as one of the
documents in his semi-official work Woodrow Wilson and World
Settlement. Referring to this draft, Baker states that "their draft furnished
many of the articles finally incorporated in the convention."'8 The text
of this second, and apparently official, American draft is printed with
this article as an appendix.
The noteworthy feature of the British draft, so far as international
air law is concerned, was its statement in favor of sovereignty in the
air coupled with extremely broad privileges of flight - practically what
we would now call the "Five Freedoms." Great Britain had long
favored official acceptance of the right of each State to control flight
over its territory as the basic principle of international air law. As early
as 1911 a proposed "Aerial Navigation Bill" had been drafted in Great
Britain (although never introduced in Parliament) which opened with
the following recitals:
"WHEREAS the sovereignty and rightful jurisdiction of His
Majesty extends, and has always extended, over the air
superincumbent on all parts of His Majesty's dominions and the territorial
waters adjacent thereto:
"And whereas it is expedient to regulate the navigation of
aircraft, whether British or foreign, within the limits of such
jurisdiction, and in the case of British aircraft to regulate the navigation
thereof both within the limits of such jurisdiction and elsewhere:" 9
It was therefore not surprising that the British 1919 draft was based
on sovereignty, but nothing in published discussions prior to World
War I indicated that the British Government did favor the widely
extended commercial air navigation privileges suggested in the draft
presented at Paris. The critical articles of the British draft are as
"Article 1: -The High Contracting Parties recognise the full
and absolute sovereignty and jurisdiction of every State over the
air above its territories and territorial waters, but subject thereto
the aircraft of a contracting State may fly freely into and over the
territories of the other contracting States provided they comply
with the regulations laid down by the latter. Such regulations will
permit the free navigation of foreign aircraft except in so far as
restrictions appear to the State to be necessary in order to
guarantee its own security or that of the lives and property of its
inhabitants and to exercise such jurisdiction and supervision as will
secure observance of its municipal legislation. The regulations shall
be imposed on foreign aircraft without discrimination except in
times of great emergency when a State may deem it necessary to
safeguard its own security. It is, however, agreed that any one
contracting State may refuse to accord to the aircraft of any other
contracting State any facilities which the latter does not itself
accord under its regulations.
"Article 2: -Each contracting State shall have the right to
impose special restrictions by way of reservation or otherwise with
respect to the public conveyance of persons and goods between two
points on its territory, but such restrictions may not be imposed on
a foreign aircraft where such aircraft is proceeding from one point
to another within the territory of the contracting State either for
the purpose (
) of landing the whole or part of its passengers or
goods brought from abroad or (
) of taking on board the whole
or part of its passengers or goods for a foreign destination, or
) of carrying between the two points passengers holding through
tickets or goods consigned for through transit to or from some
place outside the territory of the contracting State."
The privileges contemplated by these two articles were limited to
aircraft of contracting States. This was emphasized further by the
provisions of Article 3 of the British draft which stipulated that "no
contracting State shall, except by special and temporiry authorization,
permit any foreign aircraft to fly over its territory" unless it possessed
the nationality of a contracting State.
The French draft presented at Paris was much shorter and simpler
than the British draft. It contained no definitive statement as to
national sovereignty in the airspace, but was based on that legal theory.
This necessarily follows from Article 1 of the French draft which stated
that "Only aircraft belonging entirely to owners belonging to one of
the contracting States . . . shall be allowed to fly over the territories
of the contracting States."
The notes included in the exhibits to the United States delegates'
report referred to above are most illuminating.
The form in
they are presented indicates that they were among the papers circulated
to other delegations. Commenting on the French draft, the United
States delegation suggested the inclusion of a preliminary article as
"The contracting States declare that the sovereignty of States
extends throughout the atmosphere above their own territories,
including their territorial waters; but that no State may claim
sovereignty of any part of the atmosphere over the High Seas
or over waste portions of the land that are subject to no particular
Commenting on the necessity of an article of this kind, the United
States delegates said:
"The sovereignty of the atmosphere is nowhere the subject
of any formal international agreement. It is fundamental to any
consideration of international aerial intercourse, as it is also to
aerial questions connected with a state of war. Even if it be held
that there is a common consent to the effect of this proposed Article,
it will be declaratory - a formal conventional statement removing
the subject from the realms of speculation in so far as the attitude
of the assenting contracting parties is concerned."
Commenting further on the French draft, they added:
"The Draft nowhere expressly stipulates that a contracting
State shall permit foreign aircraft, even of other contracting
States, to enter its jurisdiction. It may be presumed that this has
been intentional in a draft prepared with so much care. In the
light of their peculiar qualities- in peace in connection with
Customs, Health, Immigration and Espionage laws, and in war
because of their ready conversion into powerful military
instrumentalities, and the difficulties of effective control at all times - the
day does not seem to have arrived when any obligation to permit
foreign aircraft to enter a State's jurisdiction should be adopted
by international agreement. The most that should be attempted is
to arrive at a set of general rules governing aircraft if they are
permitted to enter foreign jurisdiction. Intentionally or
unintentionally the Draft does no more than this."
Commenting on the British draft, the United States delegates
indicated that the first clause of the first paragraph (as to sovereignty)
- "should be made a separate and independent article," adding:
"The remainder of Article I definitely permits the free
navigation, with certain restrictions, over the territories of contracting
States, in which it differs from the French Draft."
Apparently the United States delegation was at first inclined to
accept the British position. The first American draft (Exhibit C-4 to
the delegates' report) opens with definitions of "aircraft" and of
"territory", then follows with an article to the effect that "The High
Contracting Parties recognize the full and absolute sovereignty and
jurisdiction of every State over the air above its territories," followed by new
articles 3 and 4 as to the extent of the privileges of flight of
. "Article 3: - Subject to the provisions of Article 2 and to the
municipal regulations laid down by any contracting States, the
aircraft of each contracting State may fly freely into and across
the jurisdiction of the others. Such municipal regulations, except
in so far as restrictions appear to the State to be necessary in
order to safeguard its own security or the lives and property of its
inhabitants, will permit the free navigation of aircraft of the
contracting States, and will not require foreign aircraft to land in an
intervening State when on a through flight whose points of
departure and arrival lie on opposite sides of that State. The
regulations shall be imposed on aircraft of contracting States without
discrimination except in times of great emergency when a State
may deem it necessary to safeguard its own security. It .is,
however, agreed that any one contracting State may refuse to accord to
the aircraft of any other contracting State any facilities which the
latter does not itself accord under its regulations.
"Nothing in this convention, however, shall be held to abridge
the right of any contracting State to forbid the entrance of foreign
aircraft within its jurisdiction upon due notification to the other
"Article 4: -Each contracting State shall have the right to
impose special restrictions by way of reservation or otherwise with
respect to the public conveyance of persons and goods between two
points on its territory, but such restrictions may not be imposed
on an aircraft of another contracting State where such aircraft is
proceeding from one point to another within the territory of the
former contracting State either for the purpose (
) of landing the
whole or part of its passengers or goods brought from abroad or
) of taking on board the whole or part of its passengers or goods
for a foreign destination, or (
) of carrying between the two points
passengers holding through tickets or goods consigned for through
transit, to or from some place outside the territory of the
The development and change in the position taken by the United
States delegates can best be noted by comparing these paragraphs with
Articles 1 to 4 inclusive and Article 7 of the later American draft
(attached as an appendix hereto).
In Article 1 of the latter, State sovereignty is recognized "in the
airspace" above the territory of a State. So far as extensive research
discloses, this is the first occasion on which a draft convention used
the more exact term "airspace" rather than the term "air."' 0 The
United States delegation is entitled to this credit.
Article 2 recognized the right of every State to exercise "such
jurisdiction and supervision as will secure observance of its municipal
legislation."' The only limitation is that regulations shall be imposed on
foreign aircraft without discrimination. It is clear from Article 7 that
the term "foreign aircraft" in Article 2 means aircraft of contracting
States, so that in substance Article 2 would have permitted States to
impose such regulation on the entry of foreign aircraft (aircraft of
other contracting States) as any State might desire provided regulations
were applied without discrimination. This is a far and radical
departure from the position in the British draft which would have prevented
a State from restricting landings of aircraft of contracting States for th:
purpose of discharging or taking on board passengers or goods from
abroad or destined for a foreign point. Article 4 is a statement of the
undertaking of each State in time of peace to accord the liberty of
innocent passage above its territory to the aircraft of other contracting
States. This appears to be the first statement of this principle in
approximately the form in which it finally appeared in Article 2 of the
The comparison of other articles of this American draft will
indi10 Of course eminent legal authorities had for years insisted that State
sovereignty existed over the airspace and not over the gaseous air. See, for'
example, what is perhaps the earliest statement of this distinction when
Westlake in 1906 at the meeting of the Institute of International Law' challenged
Fauchille's doctrinal insistence on "freedom of the air," saying: "I accept battle
on the basis of the report; that is to say, on the principle of the freedom of the
air, or,'more exactly, the airspace. The air is itself something that cannot be
possessed, which is carried at the will of the winds-today in Belgium, tomorrow
in France or in Holland. What we have about us is not the air. It is the
airspace." [Annuaire de l'Institut de droit international, Vol. 21, 1906, p. 297.1
cate the extent to which it influenced textually the Paris Convention,
although the other passages are not of equal importance.
The actual draft of what eventually became the Paris Convention
was first discussed in the Legal Subcommission. The most active
members of this subcommission were civilians, although two were holding
temporary military rank. Professor Buzzati, the chief Italian
spokesman in the Legal Subcommission, had long been known as an expert
in international law. With other Italian jurists he had participated
in the organization of the Verona conference in 1910, one of the
earliest held on the subject of international air law. To Buzzati fell the
task of taking the various drafts available at Paris and producing an
actual text for the consideration of the Legal Subcommission. It is
known that he had available the text of the almost completed draft
convention which resulted from the abortive international conference
in Paris in 1910, as well as the texts of the new drafts submitted at
Paris in 1919. While the minutes do not show his actual use of the
second American draft, the internal evidence, as indicated earlier,
appears to be conclusive on the point.
Professor de La Pradelle of France was the chief spokesman for that
State in the Legal Subcommission. He was already recognized as one
of Europe's outstanding authorities on international law, had
participated in pre-war air law discussions, and had assisted in drafting the
French proposals for a post-war convention.
Captain H. S. Bacon was the chief spokesman for the United States
on the Legal Subcommission. He had practiced law in New York prior
to World War I, had been on duty with the United States Air Force
in Paris in a legal capacity during the war. After the war he returned
to civilian life and practiced law in Paris until World War II.
Captain Tindal-Atkinson and Mr. White-Smith were the chief
British spokesmen. Both were members of the British bar. The former
held a commission in the R.A.F. during the war, but returned to civil
life and a distinguished career in England after the war.
Anyone who desires to understand the real legal background of
some of the critical clauses of the Paris Convention should study with
care the stenographic reports of the sessions of the Legal
Subcommission and particularly the arguments presented by these thoroughly
trained jurists and legal experts. Of special importance were the
discussions that arose from the effort of the British delegates to have
incorporated in the final convention the broad privileges of commercial
flight between contracting States contemplated in Articles 1 and 2 of
the British draft.
Though it is little known, the almost complete draft convention
prepared at Paris in 1910 included a provision as to the establishment
of international airlines, and as to cabotage. Article 21 of that draft,
somewhat freely translated into English, read as follows:
"Each contracting State has the power to reserve the
professional transport of persons and goods between two points on its
territory to national aircraft alone, or to aircraft of certain
contracting States, or to submit such navigation to special restrictions.
"The establishment of international airlines depends upon the
assent of interested States." 1
At one of the first meetings of the Legal Subcommission (March
20, 1919) Atkinson (Great Britain) had stated that the British point
of view was that air navigation 'ought to be as free as possible, each
State reserving the right to take measures which concerned its security
and to lay out corridors over which air navigation would pass. At the
meeting of March 22nd the early clauses of the convention were
adopted almost in final form covering the questions of national airspace
sovereignty, innocent passage, restricted zones, as well as the provision.
in original Article 5 that no contracting State would admit flight over
its territory to the aircraft of non-contracting States except by special
and temporary authorization. At the session of March 26th Buzzati
brought forward his draft Article 15 as to the right of each State to
reserve professional (commercial) air traffic between two points in its
territory, suggesting language almost identical to that contained in
Article 21 of the draft 1910 convention quoted above. He also
suggested an Article 16, as to the establishment of international airlines
depending on the consent of interested States, quite similar to that in
the draft 1910 convention. At this point Atkinson (Great Britain)
pressed the British point of view under which national restrictions
could not be imposed on aircraft of contracting States seeking to
disembark or to take on all or part of its passengers or goods coming
from or destined abroad. He argued that if commercial aircraft
provided passenger service from London to Constantinople and passed
through Paris, it ought to be allowed to take on passengers at Paris
for Constantinople, but that this could be prevented under the
proposed Article 15. In other words, using more modern terminology, the
British delegate insisted that the convention ought to give full Fifth
Freedom rights to the commercial aircraft of every contracting State
operating on through routes.
De La Pradelle (France) contested the British point of view. He
was prepared to accept the position that an international line ought
to have the right to fly over national territory without stopping or
landing, but that concessions must stop there. He insisted that each
State ought to remain absolute sovereign of what occurred on its
territory - that no one had sufficient experience as to the conditions
11 The French text read:
"Chaque Etat contractant aura la facult6 de rdserver le transport
professionnel de personnes et de marchandises, ayant lieu entre deux points de son
territoire, aux a~ronefs nationaux seuls ou aux a~ronefs de certains Etats
contractants ou de soumettre cette navigation h des restrictions sp6ciales.
"L'6tablissement de lignes internationales de communication a6rienne
d6pendra de l'assentiment des Etats int6ress~s." [Conference internationale de
navigation adrienne, Paris 18 mai-28 juin 1910, Procgs-ver'baux des seances et
annexes. Paris, Imprimerie nationale, 1910, pp. 188-199.]
under which international lines would be established to fix definite
regulations, and that France could not accept the commitments
(suggested by the British proposal) . Buzzati (Italy) stated that the Italian
delegation supported the French position. In the case of an
international line from London to Constantinople, he questioned whether
passengers or goods should be picked up at Paris for Turkey :if a
French line existed between Paris and Constantinople. (A very
modern statement of present day commercial Fourth and Fifth Freedom
problems.) Buzzati added that these were new questions and that no
one knew how international lines would be set up in future.
The question was further discussed at the meeting of March 26th.
Atkinson and de La Pradelle restated the British and French positions.
The British proposal was formally put to a vote. It was supported by
the delegations of Great Britain and of Japan (the latter having taken
no active part in the discussion), and was opposed by the delegations
of France, Italy and the United States.
Thus, the vote of the United States was controlling on this critical
question. Had the United States representative in the legal
Subcommission supported- the British position, an entirely different draft
convention might have been reported to the full Aeronautical Commission
and might have been there adopted. Instead of a convention which
authorized interested States to regulate the establishment of
international airlines over their territories, such a convention would have
denied the right of any State to restrict the disembarkation of passengers
or goods from abroad brought in by airlines of other contracting States,.
or the embarkation of passengers or goods destined for points abroad.
Such a convention would in substance have meant that what we now
consider as Third, Fourth and Fifth Freedoms commercial privileges
would have been written into the Paris Convention from the
The United States delegates took an active part in the discussions
in other subcommissions and participated in the final discussions in
the full Commission before the convention was opened for signature.
The United States was also represented on the final drafting
committee. But at no point was its influence as controlling or decisive as on
the occasions mentioned in detail above.
In summary it may be said that the contributions of the United
States to the drafting of the Paris Convention included the suggestion
of the use of the technical term "airspace" and not "air" in stating the
principle of sovereignty; in using the term "innocent passage" as it
appeared in the final draft of the convention; in insisting on the
principle of sovereignty in the airspace to the extent that it refused to
support the British position which sought to write into the convention
wide privileges for the future development of international airlines.
SUBMITTED TO THE
COMMISSION OF THE PEACE CONFERENCE HELD AT PARIS IN
1919 BY THE AMERICAN MEMBERS, REAR-ADMIRAL H. S. KNAPP
AND MAJOR GENERAL MASON M. PATRICK
[Attached as Exhibit C-5 to Report of the U.S. Delegates to the Aeronautical
Commission of the Peace Conference to the Secretary of State, July 10, 1919.
Also in: Ray Stannard Baker, Woodrow Wilson and World Setttlement,
New York, Doubleday Page, 1922, Vol. 3, pp. 419-424.]
The contracting states recognize the full and absolute sovereignty and
jurisdiction of every state in the air space above its territory and
The contracting states recognise the right of every state to establish
such regulations and restrictions as appear to the state to be necessary in
order to guarantee its own security or that of the lives and property of its
inhabitants, and its right to exercise such jurisdiction and supervision as
will secure observance of its municipal legislation. These regulations shall
be imposed on foreign aircraft without discrimination, but it is agreed that
any one contracting state may refuse to accord to the aircraft of any other
contracting state any facilities which the latter does not itself accord under
Each contracting state shall have the right to impose special
restrictions by way of reservation or otherwise with respect to the public
conveyance of persons and goods between two points on its territory.
Each contracting state undertakes in time of peace to accord the liberty
of innocent passage above its territories to the aircraft of the other
contracting states, subject to the conditions established by this convention.
Each contracting state has the right to prohibit the aircraft of other
contracting states from flying over certain zones of its territory.
If a state exercises this right, it must publish and notify beforehand to
the other contracting states the location and extent of the forbidden zones.
All of the aircraft of a state except those belonging to its military
establishment and other state-owned aircraft engaged in public business, shall
be excluded from any zones which are forbidden to foreign aircraft.
Every aircraft which finds itself over a forbidden zone shall at once give
the signal of distress provided for in Article - of the regulations annexed
hereto, and as soon as possible shall land at a station outside the prohibited
zone but as near as possible thereto and within the territory of the state
within which the prohibited zone is located.
Any aircraft when called upon to land by signal or otherwise must do
so at once. Each state shall publish and notify to the other contracting
states the landing signals adopted by it.
The present convention applies solely to aircraft possessing the
nationality of a contracting state. No contracting state shall, except by
special and temporary authorization, permit any aircraft to fly over its
territory unless such aircraft does possess the nationality of a contracting
An aircraft shall possess the nationality of the state upon whose official
register it is borne. Every aircraft of a contracting state which leaves its
jurisdiction and enters the jurisdiction of another contracting state shall
be borne upon the official register of the states whose nationality it
possesses. No aircraft of a contracting state shall be permitted to enter the
jurisdiction of another contracting state unless it belongs wholly to
nationals of a single contracting state.
Joint stock companies, limited liability companies, and all other
incorporated or associated bodies shall be considered nationals of the state under
the laws of which they are created. At least two-thirds of the stock of all
such companies which operate aircraft in interstate traffic shall be owned
by nationals of the state under the laws of which they are created, and all
of their directors shall be nationals of such state.
So long as an aircraft possesses the nationality of one of the
contracting states in accordance with Article-, no other state shall confer its
nationality upon it. In cases where the home station of an aircraft is in
the territory of a contracting state whose nationality it does not possess,
the later shall be immediately notified of its registration by the state in
which it is registered.
The contracting states will exchange and will forward to the
Permanent International Aerial Commission every month lists of new entries on
their registers and of the annulment of entries made on their registers
during the preceding month.
The aircraft of a contracting state when within the jurisdiction of
another contracting state must bear their nationality and registration marks
and the name and address of their owners.
Every aircraft which passes from the jurisdiction of the state whose
nationality it possesses into the jurisdiction of another contracting state
shall be provided with a certificate of air worthiness issued or authorized
by the state whose natioality it possesses.
All commanding officers, pilots, engineers, and other members of the
operating crew of an aircraft of a contracting state which passes into the
jurisdiction of another contracting state must be provided with certificates
of their competency and licenses issued or authorized by the state whose
nationality the aircraft possesses.
Certificates of air worthiness and certificates of competency and licenses
issued or authorized by the state conferring nationality upon an aircraft will
be recognised as valid by the other contracting states, provided they are
issued in accordance with the conditions of this convention and the
regulations appended hereto.
Each contracting state shall have the right to refuse to recognise
certificates of air worthiness or certificates of competency or licenses issued
to any of its own nationals by another contracting state.
Such non-recognition shall immediately be notified to the state which
had issued the certificates and to the state where the aircraft has its home
Every aircraft engaged in interstate navigation must carry:
(a) A certificate of nationality.
(b) A certificate of air worthiness.
(c) Certificates of competency and licences for its operating crew.
(d) If merchandise is carried, a bill of lading and a manifest.
(e) A log book.
All aircraft log books shall be kept for two years after the last entry
and shall be presented when demanded by the public officials of any
contracting state within whose jurisdiction the aircraft may be.
Transportation by aircraft of explosives, arms and ammunition, and of
any other dangerous material is prohibited in international traffic.
Each contracting state has the right to prohibit the use of photographic
apparatus above its territory and also the right to develop any films or plates
found on board an aircraft, and the right to take possession of any
apparatus and plates which have been used above its territory.
The proper authorities of a contracting state shall verify the documents
which its aircraft must carry and it is their duty to verify the quantity,
quality, weight and measure of any merchandise carried and to furnish the
Each contracting state agrees to take all necessary measures to assist
aircraft in distress.
Each contracting state agrees to allow aircraft belonging to other
contracting states to land on all landing fields in its territory which are available
for general use by its own nationals. The landing charges and charges for
sojourn will apply equally to all aircraft of the other contracting states
without distinction on account of nationality.
The following will be considered as state-owned aircraft:
(a) Military aircraft.
(b) Aircraft used for state service other than military, such as
customs and postal service, police, etc.
(c) All other aircraft which are the property of the state.
All other aircraft are considered as private aircraft.
Without special authorisation which may be granted by any contracting
state, military aircraft belonging to one contracting state will not enter the
jurisdiction of another contracting state. Any military aircraft which finds
itself or which without such authorisation is found within the jurisdiction
of a contracting state shall be subject to all of the conditions contained in
There shall be created under the name of a central office at
• The expenses connected therewith shall be borne
by the contracting states in such proportions as shall be fixed by the
permanent commission provided for in Article
This bureau shall be under the control of a permanent commission
consisting of two representatives each of the United States, France, the
British Empire, Italy and Japan, with five other representatives nominated by
the remainder of the contracting states.
This commission is empowered to collect, collate, publish and distribute
information of every kind concerning aerial navigation; to render opinions
upon questions in dispute at the request of the contracting states
concerned; to examine proposals for any modification of the provisions of this
convention; to recommend such modifications as may seem necessary; in
general, to conduct such investigations or carry on such other work as may
be for the benefit of the international aerial traffic of the contracting
To this convention there are attached regulations which have the same
force and effect as the convention itself and which will be put in force at
the same time. The provisions of this convention and of the attached
regulations may be modified at any time after agreement between the contracting
1 Report of the United States Delegates to the Aeronautical Commission of the Peace Conference (transmitted to the Secretary of State July 10, 1919 ). [Ms. in National Archives, Washington].
2 Conference de la paix, 1919 - 1920 , Recueil des actes de la confdrence, Partie VII , Pr6paration et signature des trait6s et conventions divers, Proc~s-verbaux et textes, A-Conventions g6n6rales entre alli6s, 1 ) Commission de I' a6ronautique . Paris, Imprimerie nationale, 1933 .
3 La Paix de Versailea-Adronautique , Paris, Editions internationales, 1934 , p. 217s .
4 Report of the United States Delegates to the Aeronautical Commission, op . cit p. 1. For additional facts as to the background of the formation of the Aeronautical Commission, see: Albert Roper , La Convention internationale du 13 octobre 1919 ... , Paris, Recueil Sirey, 1930 , Chap. 2; Kenneth W. Colegrove , International Control of Aviation , Boston, World Peace Foundation, 1930 , Chap. 4: John C. Cooper , The Right to Fly, New York Henry Holt, 1947 , pp. 57 - 58 .
5 U, S. Department of State, Papers relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States-The Paris Peace Conference 1919 , Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1942 -Vol. 4 , p. 342 .
6 For discussion of these problems, see: Cooper, The Right to Fly, op . cit., Chaps. 4 and 5.
8 Ray Stannard Baker , Woodrow Wilson and World Settlement ... , Garden City , N.Y. , Doubleday Page , 1922 , Vol. 2 , p. 460 , Vol. 3 , p. 419 .
9 Reports of the Civil Aerial Transport Committee . . ., London, H. M. Stationery Office , 1918 (Cd. 9218) , Appendix B to Report of Special Committee No. 1 .