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Familiarity with the Aarhus Convention is an important precondition for its application

On October 6-7, a training course entitled “Recognition and Application of the Aarhus Convention” was held in Yerevan Aarhus Center. The participants included representatives from 9 regions of Armenia and Yerevan: representatives of the Aarhus Centers, lecturers, teachers, students as well as CSO representatives.
The aim was to raise awareness of the steps towards implementation of the Convention, the Convention-related documents, including the Compliance Committee decisions, the international processes and practices, as well as the 6th of the Meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention and the third meeting of the Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (PRTR) held in September in Budva, Montenegro.

Armen Petrosyan, representative of “A. D. Sakharov Armenian Human Rights Centre” NGO welcomed the participants highlighting such events in terms of human rights protection and civil society formation in Armenia. The agenda was comprehensive, including the need for this unique tool of good governance for democracy-building and good environmental management in the fields of environment and human health protection and the decisions of Armenia’s non-compliance and the actions to settle the issue.

The invited speakers Gohar Ghazinyan, Harutyun Movsisyan, Nazeli Vardanyan, Arthur Grigoryan, Silva Ayvazyan and Natalya Manukyan provided a variety of information to the participants of the training.
Advisor to the Minister of Nature Protection of the Republic of Armenia, national coordinator of the Aarhus Convention Haykanush Parsamyan presented what steps Armenia has undertaken and plans to bring the national legislation in line with the convention, spoke about the important moments of the meeting of parties and the position of Armenia. The latter informed that Armenia is going to sign the amendment to the genetically modified organisms under the Convention but the process slows down, however the ratification of the PRTR Protocol is not expected in the near future, otherwise our country will have to create a common system of exhaust registers which is expensive.

Regarding this issue, Silva Ayvazyan, coordinator of Yerevan Aarhus Center presented the experience of other countries, in particular, Ukraine and Belarus, where cooperation with the NGO sector and the government has provided certain visibility of emissions and access to information through the introduction of simple electronic systems.

As a progress in enshrining the pillars of the Convention into the national legislation and taking into account the recommendations submitted by the party for elimination of gaps recorded by the Compliance Committee was presented the draft law “On Amendments and Addendums to the RA Law on Environmental Impact Assessment and Expertise”.

However, expert, lawyer, chairman of the Armenian Forests NGO Nazeli Vardanyan presented that there are also gaps in this regard, particularly in terms of the timetable and proper public awareness and participation.

As an important prerequisite for the implementation of other environmental conventions, the expert Gohar Ghazinyan mentioned the need for environmental monitoring and the need for summary information for the entire country, which would be a fundamental document for planning and implementation of any action. The latter especially highlighted the interconnection of the elements of the environment, and thus the balance of protection.

YSU lecturer Harutyun Movsisyan presented the process of EIA in details, drawing attention to the process of issuing mine exploitation permits.

Artur Grigoryan, representative of EcoRight NGO, spoke about the issues of accessibility of justice, citing as an example the lack of the practice of strengthening this key pillar in Armenia, detailing that the law on the NGO not only does not solve the problem, but also complicates the process of applying to the courts for violated rights in the field of environmental protection, even depriving them of the right enshrined in the Constitution.

Natalya Manukyan, representative of the Aparan Aarhus Center, talked about the positive experience of practical implementation of the Convention at the local level when it was accomplished to provide conscious participation of the public in decision-making as a result of a participatory decision.
Mari Chakryan, president of the Public Awareness and Monitoring Center, initiator of the training, presented the training participants the tools of acquisition of electronic information and sources for official information regarding to the Convention, after which the participants used their knowledge in practice through teamwork.

Members of the “Public Awareness and Monitoring Center” NGO youth group also participated in the training as free listeners.

The training was organized within the framework of the sub-grant program provided by the “A. D. Sakharov Armenian Human Rights Centre” NGO.

“The content of the training, the views and opinions expressed during the training may not coincide with the views of the A. D. Sakharov Human Rights Center NGO.”

“Public Awareness and Monitoring Center” NGO