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Switzerland joins the Aarhus Convention and its amendment on genetically modified organisms

Published: 05 March 2014

On 3 March 2014, Switzerland ratified 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 (Aarhus Convention) and its amendment on genetically modified organisms (GMO amendment), raising the total number of Parties to the Convention to 47 and the Parties to the amendment to 28.

This ratification is very timely as it comes shortly before the fifth session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Convention, which will be held back to back with the second session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Convention’s Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (Protocol on PRTRs) in Maastricht, the Netherlands, from 30 June to 4 July 2014.

As a country with a rich tradition in participatory democracy and as a Party to the Protocol on PRTRs since 2007, Switzerland has been playing a leading role in the promotion of environmental rights and the protection of the environment in the UNECE region and beyond. Switzerland’s decision to join the Aarhus family has a significant added value as it bears testimony to the country’s commitment to further promote effective access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters.

For further information on the Aarhus Convention, its GMO amendment and the Protocol on PRTRs please visit  http://www.unece.org/env/pp/welcome.html

or contact:

Ella Behlyarova
Secretary
Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters
Tel: + 41 (0)22 917 2376
E-mail: ella.behlyarova@unece.org

Note to editors:

The Aarhus Convention was adopted in Aarhus, Denmark, in June 1998 and signed by the European Community and 38 countries from all subregions of UNECE. It entered into force in October 2001. The amendment on public participation in decisions on the deliberate release into the environment and placing on the market of genetically modified organisms was adopted by the Meeting of the Parties at its second session (Almaty, Kazakhstan, 25–27 May 2005).

The Parties to the Convention are: Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, European Union (EU), Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Republic of Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The Parties to the amendment on genetically modified organisms are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, EU, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The Parties to the Convention now include the vast majority of countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, all the countries in the Caucasus and South-Eastern Europe and all EU member States.

The Protocol on PRTRs was adopted at an extraordinary meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention on 21 May 2003. Thirty-six member States and the European Community signed the Protocol in Kyiv. The Protocol entered into force on 8 October 2009.

The Parties to the Protocol are: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, EU, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. 

All agreements enter into force for a State on the ninetieth day after the date of deposit of the State’s instrument of ratification, at which point it becomes a Party.


United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

Information Unit

Palais des Nations, 

CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Tel.: +41 (0) 22 917 44 44

Fax: +41 (0) 22 917 05 05