News

Aarhus in Armenia: Evaluation by the Public

28.06.2011

The Republic of Armenia has signed the UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention) in June 1998 and ratified it in May 2001. The Convention entered into force in October 2001. Towards the observance of 10th anniversary of entering into force of the Convention and the 4th Meeting of Parties in Chisinau on June 29-July 1, 2011, the interested non-governmental organizations issue a statement to articulate the assessment of the public of the fulfillment of committments of the Republic of Armenia under the mentioned Convention. 

Evaluating the role and importance of the Aarhus Convention in promotion of democratic processes in the Republic of Armenia; 

recognizing the initial commitment of the Republic of Armenia through joining the Convention to adopt and implement the principles of the Convention;

acknowledging the specifics of the Aarhus Convention within the context of other environmental conventions and its implementation obstacles for a country that makes its first steps towards democracy;

we, the undersigned representatives of non-governmental organizations still 

find that Government of the Republic of Armenia failed to accomplish the requirements of the Convention.

It 
- did not ensure the necessary legal and procedural framework for implementation of the Convention's principles;

- did not ensure the engagement of relevant state institutions, including those responsible for fields of justice and natural resource management, in process of implementation of the Convention;

- did not take some necessary steps to ensure the adequate implementation of the Convention's provisions on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice; 

- did not take any action to fulfil recommendations set forth in decision III/6b of 3rd Meeting of Parties of the Aarhus Convention on June 11-13, 2008 regarding Armenia's obligations under the Convention.

We express a concern that since ratification of the Aarhus Convention up to present

- it is not possible to obtain comprehensive and publicly accessible information concerning the exploitation of natural resources;

- decisions having a disastrous impact on the environment such as expansion of mining, destruction of forests, disruption of water ecosystems and others are being adopted without public participation;

- judicial system does not allow any non-governmental organization to challenge environmental decisions adopted without public participation and/or related to the environment. 

We record that

- some measures that promote implementation of the Aarhus Convention, such as estabslihment of administrative courts or adoption of the Law on Freedom of Information, have taken place within Armenia's other international commitments;

- major part of measures for implementation of the Aarhus Convention undertaken in the Republic of Armenia have been implemented by non-governmental organizations and/or with their initiative.

We evaluate

- the work of the Government of the Republic of Armenia and particularly, of the focal point institution of the Aarhus Convention - the Ministry of Nature Protection as not satisfactory.

We demand that

- the government take immediate steps to fix the situation, also engaging into the process the public concerned with implementation of the Aarhus Convention.

We call

- the respective international organizations to pursue implementation of Armenia's international obligations.


Signatures:

Levon Nersisyan, "Armenian Fund for Protection of Human Rights after A.D.Sakharov" public organization
Gevorg Petrosyan, "Biosophia" public organization
Arman Vermishyan, "Burg" environmenta/l youth public organization
Ruzanna Ghazaryan, "Dalma Sona" foundation
Silva Vardanyan, "Zartonk-89" public organization
Arthur Ghazaryan, "Ensuring Ecological Security and Democracy" public organization
Hrayr Savzyan, "EcoDar" public organization
Greta Gabrielyan, "Ecological Academia" public organization
Inga Zarafyan, "EcoLur" public organization
Silva Adamyan, "Center of Bird Lovers" public organization
Sona Ayvazyan, "Transparency International Anticorruption Center" public organization
Mane Hakobyan, "People are the Owners of the Country" Union"" public organization
Levon Barseghyan, "Journalists Club "Asparez"" public organization
Nadezhda Hakobyan, "Arena for Education" public organization
Elena Manvelyan, "Armenian Women for Health and Healthy Environment" public organization
Avetik Ishkhanyan, "Helsinki Committee of Armenia" public organization
Armen Dovlatyan, Armenian Ecological Charity Fund 
Zhasmina Telyan, "Armenian Women" Support to Democracy"" public organization
Nazeli Vardanyan, "Armenian Forests" public organization
Gohar Oganezova, "Armenian Botanical Society" public organization
Artur Sakunts, "Helsinki Citizens Assembly Office in Vanadzor" public organization
Edik Baghdasaryan, "Investigative Journalists" public organization 
Arpine Galfayan, "Institute for Human Rights and Democracy" public organization
Anahit Margaryan, "We Plus" public organization
Hasmik Aslanyan, "Shogher" Union"" public organization 
Sedrak Baghdasaryan, "Victims of State Needs" public organization
Ashot Mirzoyan, "Consumers Support Center" public organization