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Global Administrative Law Compliance: The Aarhus Convention Compliance Review System

2008 / Vol. 20, No. 4, (70)
Digital Edition

Global Administrative Law Compliance:
The Aarhus Convention Compliance Review System

Marco Macchia

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.