June 10, 2008
Professors Svitlana Kravchenko and John Bonine Visit Riga, Latvia to Commemorate Anniversary of Aarhus Public Participation Convention
The Aarhus Public Participation Convention seeks to promote “environmental democracy” among the countries of Eastern and Western Europe, along with the nations of the Caucasus region and Central Asia. The Convention has been ratified by the governments of 41 countries. Representing environmental groups in the drafting, negotiation, and implementation, Professors Bonine and Kravchenko helped shape the Convention and its early years.
At the first Meeting of the Parties in Italy in 2002, Professor Kravchenko was elected as to the Convention’s Compliance Committee, overseeing how well countries carried out the provisions of the agreement. The Committee is meeting for three days in Riga to evaluate that work. Its findings and recommendations will lead to actions by the Meeting of the Parties later in the week. The Compliance Committee will also consider new cases just filed by environmental groups in Spain and Albania, complaining about alleged violations of public participation and access to justice requirements.
Professor Bonine is attending the international diplomatic gathering as a delegate from the European ECO Forum, a coalition of environmental citizen organizations that works to improve the operation of the Convention. He has been asked to make presentations at a conference beforehand on barriers to access to the courts that sometimes prevent citizens from enforcing environmental laws in national courts in the region.
The week will culminate in the convening of the three-day Third Meeting of the Parties to the Convention. The Meeting of the Parties will consider such topics as the duties of the Convention’s members to spread principles of public participation and access to environmental information into other international forums.