Published online by Cambridge University Press: 21 July 2009
Before 11 September 2001 aviation security concerns revolved primarily around preventing aircraft hijacking and sabotage, and apprehending the perpetrators of such acts. In this regard, any risk to lives was largely confined to passengers and crew on board aircraft. In response to such long-held concerns several international conventions adopted under the auspices of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) had sought to establish universal jurisdiction over the perpetrators of violence against aircraft and to provide for states to prosecute or extradite these individuals.
Since 9/11, however, the bigger concern has been the use of aircraft as weapons of destruction, aimed at causing massive loss of lives and property on the ground. Consequently, the aviation industry has had to face a plethora of new security measures designed to prevent the occurrence of not only conventional hijacking and sabotage, but more ominously, the use of aircraft as suicide weapons against interests on land. This shift in emphasis toward preventing the use of aircraft as weapons has introduced unprecedented challenges for civil liberties as well as heightened costs and inconvenience for the air travel industry and travellers alike. This chapter assesses some of these concerns and outlines the new measures that have been adopted to deal with the post-9/11 aviation security environment. It also analyzes the prospect of harmonizing security measures among countries with different perceptions of terrorism risks and the varying capacities to comply with the requisite measures.