Since ratification of the Aarhus Convention in 2001, the Armenian government and entities responsible for implementing the rights prescribed by the Convention have failed to comply with the Convention. Since 2004, all three appeals to the Compliance Committee by the concerned stakeholders of Armenia have been satisfied, thus stating the full-scale failure of implementing the Convention in Armenia, reads a statement issued by the Save Teghut Civic Initiative, which will be presented at the fifth session of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention held in Maastricht from June 29 to July 2 this year, during which time discussed will be the Armenian government's failure to implement the Convention and its liabilities.
The Save Teghut Civic Initiative, in particular, draws attention to the following failures of the Armenian government:
a. the mechanism of statistic monitoring has never been implemented to ensure proper dissemination of information,
b. legislative, regulatory or administrative measures necessary to ensure the environmental impact assessment and public participation in decision-making procedures have not been adopted,
c. necessary legislative and administrative measures have not been taken to ensure access to justice for the public concerned on environmental matters (residents of affected communities and environmental NGOs).
"Thus, by failing the Aarhus Convention, the Government of Armenia essentially fails to also comply with those environment-related international agreements/treaties in frames of which the Government of Armenia receives substantial financial resources from international organizations.
"Currently, there are 15 approved projects supporting implementation of various environmental conventions with a total budget of more than $15 million envisaged to ensure effective forest management, to combat desertification, to preserve biodiversity and for other matters, neither of which is essentially carried out effectively. To our estimation, the implementation of these projects will not be effective unless the Government of Armenia ensures the implementation of the obligations undertaken by the Aarhus Convention.
"To add to this dire situation, PensionDenmark, a private pension fund based in Denmark and Danish state agency Export Kredit Fonden, through financial support and state mediation are supporting exploitation of Teghut copper mine, an operation that is in breach of the Aarhus Convention as recognized by the two decisions of the Compliance Committee, of various national laws as recognized by the Human Rights Defender's annual report, as well as other sources of irrefutable evidence.
"Based on the above-said, we would like to suggest Parties to the Convention, in accordance with the 'Aarhus Convention Compliance Mechanism'
- to apply warning to the Government of Armenia defined by the point f); and/or
- to temporarily suspend privileges and special rights (according to point g) given to Armenia in the framework of the Aarhus Convention and presented in the report of the first meeting of the Parties to the convention.
"We consider that this method imposed against the Government of Armenia can force the latter [to] fulfill its international obligations and will eventually lead to increased transparency and effectiveness of international environmental projects," reads the rest of the statement, in part.
The initiative urges Armenian National Assembly deputies, the RA Human Rights Defender's Office, foreign diplomats and ambassadors accredited in Armenia, representatives of the science and education sectors, international organizations, civic initiatives, and NGOs working in Armenia, and all those individuals and organizations interested in human rights and government accountability in Armenia to sign the statement.