Aarhus Convention: Ukraine still not complying
The fourth session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters took place last week in Moldova. Official delegates and members of civic society from 43 countries gathered to discuss problems and achievements in implementing the Aarhus Convention in their countries and to agree future steps for spreading and consolidating Aarhus principles.
On 1 July the Meeting passed a decision finding failure to implement the Convention by 9 countries, including Ukraine.
In 2002 a unique mechanism was introduced, the Compliance Committee, which accepts approaches not only from the Parties to the Convention, but also members of the public. In 2005 the Ukrainian NGO Environment – People – Law approached the Committee which considered the case and formulated its conclusions and recommendations. These were later confirmed by the Second Session of the 2005 Meeting of the Parties. In 2008 the Meeting of the Parties was forced to again conclude that the recommendations had not been implemented.
The Decision of the fourth session of the Meeting of the Parties repeats for the third time that Ukraine is ignoring recommendations on proper compliance with the provisions of the Aarhus Convention with regard to public participation, as set out by the recognized independent specialists in environmental law who make up the Committee. In view of this, Ukraine’s government was this time issued a warning.
The Meeting of the Parties also warned Ukraine that if it does not ensure full implementation of the decision from 2005 and accordingly the recommendations of the Compliance Committee in 2014, the Meeting of the Parties will consider suspending Ukraine’s special rights and privileges given Ukraine in accordance with the Convention.
Ukraine’s official delegation informed the Meeting that on 29 June 2011 the Cabinet of Ministers had passed a Resolution which approved Procedure for Involving the Public in Decision-Making in Environmental Matters. According to the delegates this resolves the majority of problematic issues existing in Ukraine in the area of legal regulation of public participation in the process of passing environmentally important decisions.
This was of course welcomed by the Chair and other delegates, as well as by representatives of Environment – People – Law who expressed the hope that further progress and full implementation would not be long in coming.
The Decision from the fourth session of the Meeting of the Parties envisages that if Ukraine fully carries out the Committee’s recommendations and presents the proper evidence of this by April 2012, the Compliance Committee will lift the warning issued on 1 July 2011.
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