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You have the right to learn, participate and change

16.11.2016
“Public Awareness and Monitoring Center” NGO jointly with Yerevan Aarhus Center, held a seminar entitled “Effective public participation under the Aarhus Convention ” in the office of “Sinjar Yezidis National Union” NGO. The seminar was organized within “To assist the government and civil society on issues relating to the environment “program implemented with the support of the OSCE Office in Yerevan.
Mari Chakryan, expert on raising awareness of government bodies and civil society on the environmental issues and three pillars of the Aarhus Convention presented what is the effective participation in public decision-making on the environment.

The latter also presented in detail the stages of development and implementation of the Aarhus Convention, and how the two main pillars of the Convention on access to environmental information and access to justice promote the third pillar on public participation in decision-making.

As a practical tool for improving the decision-making process of public participation stipulated by the Aarhus Convention, she presented the Maastricht recommendations aimed at supporting the parties in the creation of a legal basis for public participation in decision-making regarding the environment and the planning and implementation of activities by the relevant authorities in their immediate work related to the public participation.

Referring to the legislative gaps in this regard in our country and culture of holding public hearings and discussions, the speaker noted: “Public participation in decision-making regarding the environment increases the quality of those decisions and their effective implementation. Therefore, all parties to the Convention, including Armenia should review the public participation issues not as a formal process of a requirement, but also as a successful activity and the possibility of real impact. ”

She also informed that certain steps have been taken in Armenia to implement the procedure of public participation, the Ministry of Nature Protection has already worked out a draft decision on amending the Government’s Decision N1325-N, adopted on 19 November 2014, aimed at the adoption of recommendations of the decision V / 9A regarding the RA presented by the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee. (The project is currently open for proposals and comments).

Silva Ayvazyan, coordinator of Yerevan Aarhus Center, continuing the theme presented how the Aarhus Centers in Armenia promote public participation in decision-making.

Seminar participants marked many examples where the public was not properly informed of the environmental change envisaged operations at the early stages and was not involved in the decision-making process, at best, only expressed its opinion, which was not included in the final decision.
They raised various issues regarding whether the civil society or individuals can protect their rights under the Convention in this or that case.

Silva Ayvazyan cited several examples when as a result of sound and reasonable struggle of the civil society, active youth the decision has already been changed for the sake of environmental protection.

Prepared by Mary Chakryan
Translated by Anush Beybutyan