It is quite an honor to be asked to write a foreword for a book devoted to one of the most famous international aviation lawyers of our times, Prof. Bin Cheng. His long life covers almost 100 years, which were 100 years of great importance for modern international air flight.
With the Paris Convention 1919 starting to develop the legal frame for modern flying, followed by important pieces concerning questions of liability of the air carrier in the 1929 Warsaw Convention, and renewed in Montreal in 1999, with the Chicago Convention of 1944 and its Annexes as well as with the two additional agreements, the Air Transit and Air Transport Agreement and with legislations starting in the 1960s against the scourge of international terrorism through the taking hostage of airplanes, international aviation law has considerably developed during this time span. Prof. Bin Cheng has written at a rather early time and has been active in commenting these legal developments.
It was a specific methodology that Bin Cheng had developed in his famous London University PhD dissertation on “General Principles of Law as applied by International Courts and Tribunals” where he had analyzed 650 recorded cases of international arbitral and judicial decisions since the Jay Arbitration of 1794. The same methodology was applied in his voluminous pioneer work on “The Law of International Air Transport”, published in 1962. This book inter alia contains a thorough analysis of all the bilateral air transport agreements that were concluded by the United Kingdom with almost every country in the world.
Bin Cheng was born in Beijing went with his parents, his father being a judge at the Permanent Court of International Justice, to England where he started his studies and later became research assistant under Prof. Georg Schwarzenberger (1908 – 1991) for his PhD. Since 1950 as assistant lecturer till his retirement in 1986 he was lecturing aviation law and international law as well as a little bit of space law as well. Of course his PhD dissertation, still the leading monograph on the general principles of law as a source of international law is widely discussed in theory among legal scholars and by courts. Even more prominent is Bin Cheng’s famous article on “United Nations General Assembly Resolutions on Outer Space: ‘Instant’ International Customary Law?” This article published in the Indian Journal of International Law in 1965 (5 Indian Journal of International Law (1965), 23 ff.) touched upon a question hitherto still unclear: on the role of General Assembly resolutions which as is
And so we may summarize that through the collection of his articles in this book an extraordinary intellectual and analytical spirit will be honored. The biography shows all the previous honorations of Bin Cheng. It is important to say at this point that only one reason deprived the present author of this foreword from including the biography of Bin Cheng also into a book that he had edited in 2013, entitled “Pioneers of Space Law”. The book clarifies in its foreword that it “is a tribute to the memory of these pioneers, who are no longer among us”. So only for this – very fortunate – reason Bin Cheng was excluded from the book. And we can happily agree that his enormous contributions also to the science of space law will have easily justified this inclusions in the pioneers book. Nevertheless we can express our satisfaction and gratitude for the fact that this book here specifically honors Bin Chengs extremely valuable contribution to air law.