Global Administrative Law Seminar edition:2 location:Viterbo, Italy date:9-10 June 2006
The 1998 Aarhus Convention of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) contains important administrative guarantees that are to be respected by the administrative bodies of the State parties to the Convention when making rules and decisions in environmental matters. This paper analyzes the background to the Aarhus Convention, its key Articles, and its adequacy as an instrument of administrative accountability. While its provisions are far from perfect, the Aarhus Convention can be considered as the most comprehensive international legal document concerning environmental governance and democracy.
Although technically restricted to the nation States of the UNECE region, the author argues that the Aarhus Convention has a more global significance. First, the Convention can be used for the creation of guidelines in the three above-mentioned pillars, with a global instead of a regional application. Secondly, and most importantly, the Aarhus Convention could be used as a starting point for the development of general accountability principles in international organizations. This view, it is argued, could enhance the transparency of administrative processes within international organizations. This general analysis is tested in a more practical case study concerning the World Bank. The existing accountability mechanisms are analyzed, with emphasis put on the question whether the principles of the Aarhus Convention could improve those mechanisms.