The Aarhus Convention

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters


Or more commonly referred to as the Aarhus Convention.

Signed in 1998, the Aarhus Convention:

  • Is the first binding treaty on procedural environment rights.
  • Provides for access to environmental information, public participation in environmental decision-making and access to justice to protect “the right of every person of present and future generations to live in an environment adequate to his or her health and well-being.”
  • Party States are mostly from the European Economic Community, including the EU.
  • Although regional in scope, it has global significance

A Rapid Response Mechanism in the form of a Special Rapporteur to protect environmental defenders was established in October 2021.

The important work of European NHRIs in relation to the environment and human rights was emphasised by the COE Commissioner for Human Rights

 “We should not forget that because of this work, they (NHRIs), too, can face risks and need protection. But importantly, they have a crucial role to play in defending environmental human rights defenders subjected to reprisals. I very much hope that national human rights institutions will become involved with the new Rapid Response Mechanism. This should include easy access as well as an effective exchange of information.”

How did we do?

How are human rights impacted by climate change?

The UN Special Rapportuer on the Right to a Healthy Environment