The draft constitution of Armenia misses Article 33.2 – human right to live in healthy and favorable environment, as environmental lawyer Nazeli Vardanyan informs. Below we present Nazeli Vardanyan’s proposals and observation on the draft constitution of Armenia (environmental part).
“Taking into consideration that the constitution is the main law in the country, and all legislative and bylaws, as well as international rules working in Armenia shall comply with the Constitution, therefore the availability and formulation of rules guaranteeing conservation of environment, citizens’ right to receive information (including environmental), protection of environmental rights is concerning in the draft constitution proposed as a result of constitutional reforms.
1. “Article 11: Conservation and Sustainable Development of Environment
1. The public authorities promote conservation of environment and its recovery, reasonable use of natural resources guided by the principle of sustainable development and taking into consideration accountability…
2. Everyone shall take care of the conservation of environment.”
This article clearly shows that the obligation of public authorities to conserve and recover environment is drastically reduced, as “promote” is not binding, and therefore its use will essentially reduce the role of the public authorities as guarantors. This article uses “principle of sustainable development” term, when none of the legal acts of Armenia or international convention ratified by Armenia defined “sustainable development” legal term, moreover, none of its principles is defined, therefore it’s not clear which principles the state shall follow to apply this constitutional rule. The second detection made from this article is that public authorities in our country have only rights, while citizens have only obligations. The legal burden in conservation of environment imposed on state and citizens is obviously inconsistent. Such approach is completely impermissible.
2. Article 50 of the draft says, “Article 50: Right to Receive Information
Everybody is entitled to receive information about the activities of governmental and local bodies and officials, including right to get familiarized with the documents, if it doesn’t contradict with the public interests. The law lays down the procedure and terms for providing information, as well as grounds for responsibilities of the officials for hiding information or denying its provision without any legal grounds.”
3. The norm forbidding recognition of environmental or health information as state ore commercial secret is missing.
4. “Human rights and freedoms” chapter of the draft misses the right to live in healthy and favourable environment, which is rather concerning. This right was prescribed in the Constitution of 2005 (Article 33.2) due to long-lasting and persistent fight of environmental organizations. This right is a fundamental one and it must be prescribed in the draft. In this regard, I’m proposing to supplement a new article in the Human rights and freedoms” chapter of the draft with the content of Article 33.2 of the current constitution.”
16:48 October 02, 2015