The Aarhus Convention: an implementation guide

Organization(s): UNECE
Author: Fiona Marshall, Helmut Gaugitsch, Jerzy Jendroska, Jonas Ebbesson, Stephen Stec
Year: 2014
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The Aarhus Convention, which is open for global accession, offers powerful twin protections for the environment and human rights. It provides an effective model for ensuring public input in defining and implementing green economy programmes, in choosing the most appropriate road maps to sustainability and for increasing transparency and Government accountability, thereby putting Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development into practice and paving the way for its universal application.

The Aarhus Convention Implementation Guide is therefore intended as a convenient non-legally binding and user-friendly reference tool to assist policymakers, legislators and public authorities in their daily work of implementing the Convention and of realizing the provisions of Principle 10 in practice. It is also hoped that it will assist members of the public and environmental non-governmental organizations to exercise their rights under the Convention.

The Implementation Guide provides both a general overview of the principles behind the Convention and a detailed article-by-article analysis of its provisions. In its analysis, the Guide draws on other international law instruments in the area of the environment and human rights, decisions adopted by the Meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention, findings of the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee, academic writings and examples from national legislation and practice.

With respect to terminology, the Convention refers in several places to “national” legislation, while at the same time being open to Parties which are regional economic integration organizations. The Guide thus uses the term to refer to any internal law of a Party, whether a State or a regional economic integration organization. The Guide also uses the term “domestic” to denote such internal law.

With respect to examples drawn from Parties’ national legislation or practice, the Guide cites a number of examples from the legislation or practice of the European Union (EU). Any references to EU legislation and practice in the text are intended to convey practical information and do not indicate any particular status of EU law with respect to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe region.

The Aarhus Convention secretariat welcomes ongoing feedback on the text of the Guide and its practical application.

Social Protection and Human Rights