WPS 2017-06: Participation of Foreigners in Environmental Decision-Making & The Aarhus Convention

Alon Jasper

What role do foreigners have in national and subnational decisions? Do government and local authorities have a duty to consider their interests? Can foreigners demand information regarding an impending decision? Can they turn to the legal system for remedy? Which foreigners are part of the public involved? These questions are integral to many fields of governance, especially in the EU. They are most apparent in decisions of environmental importance where the impact of a decision, such as building of a dam in the Danube River, is of trans-boundary nature.

To answer the above-mentioned questions in the environmental context, I turn, in this paper, to The Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Hereinafter the Aarhus Convention), the prominent international effort for implementation of procedural rights in the environmental context. By analyzing the various compliance mechanisms of the Aarhus Convention I argue that a trend over time of inclusiveness is evident. By focusing on the periodic implementation reports that are submitted by the parties to the convention, this paper gives an insight to the array of approaches countries adopt regarding varying types of foreigners (foreign citizens residing in the country; neighbors; down-streamers and foreign Environmental NGOs) and offers possible explanations to the approaches adopted by different regimes. Moreover, exploration of the convention compliance mechanisms offers insight to the ways the convention bodies’ design and the convention framework enables coordinated learning that is inclined toward an inclusive stance regarding foreigners.

WPS 06-17 (pdf)