Tag Archives: public participation

The Non-Compliance Procedure of the Aarhus Convention: Between Environmental and Human Rights Control Mechanisms (C. Pitea)

Author

Cesare Pitea

Keywords

public participation, decision-making, access to justice, access to information, the Aarhus Convention, international environmental law

Extract

When the Parties to the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (“the Aarhus Convention” or “the Convention”), at their  first meeting in Lucca (Italy) in 2002, adopted Decision I/7 on review of compliance, establishing a Compliance Committee (the Committee), it was immediately clear that something unusual and peculiar was taking place in international environmental law. Decision I/7 has its legal basis in Article 15 of the Convention, which provides that:

“The Meeting of the Parties shall establish, on a consensus basis, optional arrangements of a non-confrontational, non-judicial and consultative nature for reviewing compliance with the provisions of this Convention. These arrangements shall allow for appropriate public involvement and may include the option of considering communications from members of the public on matters related to this Convention”.

This language makes an evident, although implicit, reference to the practice of setting up non-compliance procedures (NCPs) under multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), along the lines traced by that established under the Montreal Protocol and subsequently followed under several other MEAs. The link to this model is indeed reflected in the institutional and procedural features of the mechanism, as well as in the language used in the Decision, in that it avoids any wording possibly suggesting judicial or confrontational attitudes. Therefore, expressions such as “non-compliance”, “submission” or “communication”, and “Party concerned” are used instead of the words “breach”, “application” or “defendant”.

At the same time, some aspects of the Aarhus Convention NCP are tremendously innovative. The Compliance Committee is conceived as a body of experts, rather then of Parties’ representatives, and non-State actors (“the public”, in the language of the Convention) are provided with a wide array of entitlements, including that of making communications.7 These features, unusual for NCPs and akin to those of quasi-judicial procedures under human rights treaties, have prompted strong criticism. In particular the United States, a member of UNECE, which is not a Party, nor a signatory to the Convention, requested and obtained to have a statement appended to the Report of the  rst Meeting of the Parties (MOP), in which several aspects of the procedure were highlighted as not being of a “non-confrontational, non-judicial and consultative nature”, as required by Article 15. The idea underlying this position is that the peculiarities of the Aarhus NCP have changed the legal nature of procedure, into a quasi-judicial and confrontational procedure similar to those existing under human rights treaties. Thus the legitimacy of the procedure was questioned and its value as a precedent denied. This article aims at verifying whether the functioning in practice of the mechanism, in the light of the extensive practice developed by the Committee in its  first four years of life, justifies such a view.

Citation

(2006) Italian Yearbook of International Law 16 pp.85-116

Paper

The Non-Compliance Procedure of the Aarhus Convention: Between Environmental and Human Rights Control Mechanisms

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Human Rights, Human Development, and the Right to a Healthy Environment: An Analytical Framework (M.J. Rogge)

Author(s)

Malcom James Rogge

Keywords

Human Rights, Development, Human Right to a Healthy Environment, Public Participation,

Abstract

This paper provides a framework for understanding the profound interrelationship of human rights, human development, and the right to a healthy environment. The author argues that concerted public action in environmental affairs is necessary for true advancement in human development, and for the broad attainment of the whole range of human rights in society. Human dignity consistent with the realization of human rights is only possible where steps are taken to protect the environments on which people depend for their basic needs. The author links the normative position implied in human rights theory to the practical and prescriptive ideas of human development. In conclusion, the author argues that improving environmental conditions goes hand in hand with improving levels of human development and in promoting human rights.

Citation

(2001) 22 Canadian Journal of Development Studies 33-50

Paper

Human Rights, Human Development, and the Right to a Healthy Environment: An Analytical Framework

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The Right to a Healthy Environment, Human Rights and Sustainable Development (S. Giorgetta)

Author(s)

Sueli Giorgetta

Keywords

sustainable development, environmental preservation, rights of present and future generations, human rights, right to a healthy environment, international law, procedural rights, public participation, human rights law, international law

Abstract

The concept of sustainable development is presented as a solution able to cope with development needs and the preservation of the environment, protecting it for present and future generations. The right to a healthy environment may be part of existing international law being implemented through human rights instruments. The procedural aspect of the right to a healthy environment embodies the right to information, the right to participate and the right to effective remedies. Participation in the decision-making process and available and effective means of redress are essential features of the right to a healthy environment. Expressed in the field of human rights law, these principles convey the notions that citizens are entitle to participate. The Aarhus Convention links environmental protection and human rights norms and is the first international legally binding instrument elaborating on Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration and recognizing the right to a healthy environment.

Citation

(2002) 2 International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics 173

Paper

The Right to a Healthy Environment, Human Rights and Sustainable
Development

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Making Sand Castles as the Tide Comes in: Legal Aspects of Climate Justice (E. Burleson)

Author(s)

Elizabeth Burleson

Keywords

Climate Change, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Sustainable Development, United Nations, International Law, environmentally sound tech, mitigation, adaptation, sustainable development, and disaster risk management, public participation, Governance, water

Abstract

Achieving climate justice and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are mutually- reinforcing challenges. The achievement of both is well within the capacity of the international community. Indeed, reaching carbon neutrality in an affordable, environmentally sound way requires integrating the strategies of mitigation, adaptation, sustainable development, and disaster risk management.

Citation

(2011) 2 Journal of Energy and Environmental Law 42.

Paper

Making Sand Castles as the Tide Comes In: Legal Aspects of Climate Justice

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A Substantive Environmental Right: An Examination of the Legal Obligations of Decision-Makers towards the Environment (S. Turner)

Author(s)

Stephen Turner

Keywords

environmental rights, legal obligations, environmental protection, international law, anthropocentricism, public participation, human rights

Abstract

Accute global awareness of environmental degradation seems at last to have created a consensus that environmental obligations should be imposed on decision-makers, whether state or non-state actors. However, although substantive environmental rights have been developed to a limited degree, there is as yet no international treaty or agreement that provides a globally accepted substantive human right to a good or clean and healthy environment.

This impressive book proposes such a right. In unprecedented depth, the author probes the legal obligations of decision-makers within states, companies, multilateral development banks and the World Trade Organization and develops a sound substantive human right that creates duties, both nationally and internationally, by which all decision-makers are legally bound to follow specific rules and procedures that would prevent or limit environmental degradation stemming from their decisions.

Among the major issues dealt with in the course of the presentation are the following:
determination of an equitable form of compensation where less environmentally-degrading alternatives are not viable;
anthropocentric approach vs. intrinsic rights for all ecosystems and natural systems; problems of fixing qualitative standards;
problems arising from the differing economic capacities of states;
the extent to which state constitutional provisions relating to the environment can direct and constrain legislators and policymakers;
effectiveness of responses to pressure upon multinational enterprises to take the environment into consideration in their decision-making processes; intergenerational equity;
protection of indigenous and vulnerable communities; and
public participation in the environmental impact assessment process.

The annex provides the author’s draft accord between states for the development and realization of a substantive environmental right.
This is the first book to formulate a full-fledged international legal right ensuring that all peoples could enjoy an environment, in which all ecosystems and natural systems are protected, and to demonstrate how such a right could be instituted and work in practice. As such it not only represents a major contribution to our knowledge and significantly enhances our understanding of the issues examined, but also brilliantly exposes the obstacles blocking environmental progress and powerfully clarifies the way ahead. It will be of immeasurable value to anyone committed to turning back the tide of environmental degradation.

Citation

Stephen Turner, A Substantive Environmental Right: An Examination of the Legal Obligations of Decision-Makers Towards the Environment (Wolters Kluwer, 2008)

Book

A Substantive Environmental Right: An Examination of the Legal Obligations of Decision-Makers Towards the Environment

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