YEREVAN (Armenpress)–The Convention on Access to Information–Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters of the UN Economic Commission for Europe has been signed on June 25–1998 in the Danish town of Aarhus.
Up to now–there are forty signatory states–seventeen of which have become Parties to the Convention.
Among these 17 states that have either ratified–accepted or approved the Convention–there are also all three South Caucasus countries.
A special ceremony was held at UN Armenia office on Tuesday to celebrate its signing of the Convention in 1998.
According to the Convention’s article 20 (1) the date of its implementation is fixed on the ninetieth day after the date of deposit of the sixteenth note of ratification.
It may be of symbolic meaning that this sixteenth note has been deposited by Armenia.
The OSCE Office in Yerevan and the UN representatives in Armenia’see public participation in environmental decision-making as an indispensable tool for building a strong democracy.
In its political work–the OSCE Office in Yerevan has been promoting the ratification and now the implementation of the Aarhus Convention for more than a year.
Similarly–the Convention has been one of the major factor in the discussions about environmental protection groups in Armenia.
The OSCE Office in Yerevan lead the campaign for the Convention and since mid-2000–a series of round-tables and bilateral meetings have already taken place with the leadership of various Standing Parliamentary Committees–the Armenian Ministry of Nature Protection–the Ministry of Foreign Affairs–environmental protection and international organizations.
As a result of these concerted efforts–the Convention has been ratified by the National Assembly in May 2001 and was later signed by the President of Armenia.
The task at hand now is to consider the problems arising out of the implementation of the Aarhus Convention.
As a legal tool of ensuring transparency in public affairs–the Convention needs administrative know-how for it to become fully operational.
Access to information–decision-making capabilities require technical infrastructures.
Last but not least–it requires the will and corresponding knowledge of the Armenian public to make use of the Convention as a legal self-obligation of the Armenian Government to open its doors to the citizens.
It needs to be utilized not only by environmentalists–but also by all those who are interested in improving public administration in Armenia – public servants–academicians–entrepreneurs–lawyers–journalists etc.
At this point–the implementation of the Aarhus Convention is subject to talks on further cooperation between Armenian authorities–environmental protection groups and international organization.