Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Sean Whittaker
Reflections on the Role of the Right to Access Environmental Information in the 21st Century
6th Postgraduate Research Symposium in Environmental Law
University College Cork
Oral Presentation
2014
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0
Optional Fields
02-APR-14
02-APR-14
While initially considered in tandem with the general right to access information, the right to access environmental information, and its role in an increasingly environmentally-aware society, has evolved significantly throughout the 20th and 21st century. This evolution culminated in the adoption of the Aarhus Convention. The Convention is an international instrument which guarantees the right to access environmental information, the right to participate in decision-making and the right of access to justice in environmental matters. The Convention has had a normative effect on how the right to access environmental information is implemented at State level. However, there is considerable debate on whether the benefits derived from guaranteeing this right are outweighed by the potential disadvantages incurred from implementing the right. This paper will discuss the development of the right to access environmental information, and will explore both the benefits and problems associated with guaranteeing the right. It will then evaluate how the Aarhus Convention guarantees this right in the 21st century. The paper argues that the potential disadvantages associated with guaranteeing the right to access environmental information can be reduced by careful design of national environmental information regimes. The paper also contends that the Aarhus Convention, by linking human rights and environmental rights, and by imposing procedural obligations on State Parties, effectively guarantees the right to access environmental information. Through implementing the provisions of the Aarhus Convention, State Parties reflect the environmental concerns of its citizens, and enjoy the benefits provided by guaranteeing access to environmental information.