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Aarhus Convention Membership reaches 45: Iceland ratifies far-reaching environmental rights treaty

As of 20 October 2011, Iceland has become the latest country to ratify the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. This action raises the total number of Parties to the Convention to 45.

The Aarhus Convention is the world’s most far-reaching treaty on environmental rights. It seeks to promote greater transparency and accountability among Government bodies by guaranteeing public rights of access to environmental information, providing for public involvement in environmental decision-making and requiring the establishment of procedures enabling the public to challenge environmental decisions.

The Convention was adopted in Aarhus, Denmark, in June 1998 and signed by 39 European and Central Asian countries and the European Community. It entered into force in October 2001. Its Parties now include most of the countries in Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia and nearly all EU member States.

In his message to the recent Meeting of the Parties to the Convention held in Chisinau, Republic of Moldova, Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, recalled that “the Aarhus Convention is one of the major results of the Rio Declaration adopted at the first Earth Summit nearly 20 years ago”. In view of the forthcoming Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012, the Aarhus Convention is, in the words of the Secretary-General, “more important than ever”, particularly because its twin emphasis on environment and human rights helps us “involve the public”, “keep Governments accountable” and “respond to many challenges facing our world, from climate change and the loss of biodiversity to air and water pollution”.

For further information, please visit http://www.unece.org/env/pp/welcome.html or contact:

Ella Behlyarova
Secretary to the Convention
Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters
Office S-332, Palais des Nations
Tel: + 41 (0)22 917 2376
Fax: + 41 (0)22 917 0634
E-mail: ella.behlyarova@unece.org

Note to Editors

The Parties to the Convention are: Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Tajikistan, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Kingdom and the European Community. Article 20 of the Convention states that the Convention enters into force for a State on the ninetieth day after the date of deposit of the State’s instrument of ratification, at which point it becomes a Party.

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