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Ceisteanna Coitianta

What is the Aarhus Convention?
The UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters was adopted on 25th June 1998 in the Danish city of Aarhus.

The Convention originates in the 1992 Rio Declaration, specifically Principle 10 on the Environment. Principle 10 sets out three fundamental rights: access to information, access to public participation and access to justice, as key pillars of sound environmental governance. 

When did the Aarhus Convention come into effect?
Ireland ratified the Aarhus Convention in June 2012.  It entered into force in Ireland in September 2012, in addition to the associated Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) Amendment and the Pollutant Release Transfer Register (PRTR) Protocol. For more information on the GMOs amendment and the PRTR Protocol.


How is the Aarhus Convention implemented in Ireland?
The European Union introduced two Directives to implement the Aarhus Convention:

  1. Directive 2003/4/EC  on Public Access to Information on the Environment; and
  2. Directive 2003/35/EC  on Public Participation and Access to Justice in Certain Environmental Matters.

Both of these Directives have been fully implemented in Ireland.

Prior to the ratification of the Aarhus Convention, Ireland had to ensure that all the provisions of the Convention were implemented in national law, which took a number of years. Over 60 pieces of legislation have been used to implement the Aarhus Convention in Ireland.

The Department has prepared an Implementation Table outlining the transposition, or implementation measures, adopted in Ireland. The table is intended to be a reference guide and it is not a legal document.  

Additional measures have since been enacted in addition to those listed in the Implementation Table. These are listed below:

S.I. No. 615/2014 - European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) (Amendment) Regulations 2014

S.I. No. 352/2014 - European Union (Access to Review of Decisions for Certain Bodies or Organisations promoting Environmental Protection) Regulations 2014

S.I. No. 138/2013 - European Union (Industrial Emissions) Regulations 2013

S.I. No. 137/2013 - Environmental Protection Agency (Industrial Emissions) (Licensing) Regulations 2013

S.I. No. 283/2013 - Environmental Protection Agency (Integrated Pollution Control) (Licensing) Regulations 2013

European Union (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Integrated Pollution Prevention And Control) Regulations 2012

The full text of all the legislation referred to may be accessed on the website of the Irish Statute Book 

How is the implementation of the Convention monitored?
Each party to the Convention is required to submit a National Implementation Report to the secretariat of the Aarhus Convention every 3 years to monitor, evaluate and record the implementation of the Convention.   

This means there is on-going review and monitoring of the implementation of the Aarhus Convention. Further information on Ireland's National Implementation Reports. 

What is the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee?
The Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee (ACCC) was established under Article 15 of the Aarhus Convention. In essence, the ACCC serves as a compliance mechanism whereby Parties to the Convention or members of the public may, for example, bring a concern regarding the implementation of the Convention to the Committee for consideration.

It is a non-confrontational, non-judicial and consultative mechanism established to review compliance by Parties to the Convention.

Ireland became subject to the ACCC one year from the date of coming into force of the Convention in Ireland, i.e. on 18 September 2013.

The compliance mechanism may be triggered in four ways:

(1) A Party may make a submission about compliance by another Party;

(2) A Party may make a submission concerning its own compliance;

(3) The secretariat may make a referral to the Committee;

(4) Members of the public may make communications concerning a Party's compliance with the convention

Most commonly complaints about compliance with the Aarhus Convention, known as communications, are brought by members of the public.  More information about the ACCC  is available on the UNECE website. 

What are there other Agreements associated with the Convention
There are two other Agreements associated with the Aarhus Convention, namely an amendment to the Convention regarding Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) and the Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer (PRTR) register.

  1. GMO Amendment to the Convention
  2. Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers

    Further information on both Protocols is available on the 'Other Protocols' page.

Where can I find more information?