Global Administrative Law Compliance:
The Aarhus Convention Compliance Review System
Tenured Assistant Professor, University of Rome “Tor Vergata”
“Compliance system” and “private enforcement” are two terms commonly used to designate actions brought by a private party to recover the full and right execution of obligations arising from international rules. These two terms, although used interchangeably, have different connotations: the former reflects the nature of such claims, while the latter highlights their deterrent effect. This article considers the architecture of the Aarhus Convention, which introduced an innovative review of compliance, which deserves attention for two closely related reasons. In the first place, the Aarhus Convention concerns obligations that directly rest on public administrations, aiming at environmental protection. Secondly, this procedure allows any individual to ask an international independent body to verify that the national public authority has correctly applied the global regulation. The analysis in the paper demonstrates that the approach adopted by the Compliance Committee contributes to the strengthening of the national decision’s legality. Nonetheless it may also appear somehow controversial. On the one hand, it shows respect for specific policy choices enshrined by the Member State. On the other hand, and more importantly, the Compliance Committee energetically pushes forward its own vision of the Convention rights. The paper seeks to set out a general framework for understanding the administrative compliance system more broadly. It becomes clear that the Aarhus Compliance System touches upon issues of cardinal importance to the Global Administrative Law, as it seeks to clearly establish its own role as the ultimate guarantor of legality in this new field. In order to achieve this goal, the Compliance Committee endeavours to ensure the protection of rights and thereby impliedly recognises the supremacy of Aarhus law.