The Element of ‘Access to Information’ in Arhus Convention and Act Regarding Dissemination and Free Access to Information

  •  Seiyed Asghar Sajjadi    
  •  Mohammad Hossein Ramazani Ghavamabadi    


The free access of all people to information is deemed as the requisite and precondition for efficient participation in process of decision-making by public authorities where it has been reflected in many national and international rules and regulations.
‘The right of access to information that has been formally recognized in many countries by virtue of criteria in constitution or articles of freedom of information law as a right includes most of the information stored by public authorities and consists of environmental information. The regulations regarding recognition of right of litigation for citizens may also include some regulations that give citizens the right of acquisition of essential information.
Before entry in domain of environmental terminology, the concepts of access to information and public participations are assumed as a category in political law that has been reflected in democratic political regimes under title of ‘Rights of nation’ in constitutions of those countries.’
Access to information etc has been formally recognized in Article 10 of Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (1992) at international level and it briefly holds: ‘… Anyone shall totally access to the information at disposal of public institutions about environment and … the governments shall facilitate public participation by giving information to the people… and compensation for loss shall be guaranteed.’
Although access to information and other aforesaid issues are not deemed as new elements in Article 10 of Rio Declaration (1992) and they have been typically incorporated in some other international documents several years before 1992, Aarhus Convention (1998) has explored in details of totally triple concepts in Article 10 at regional level and it presents specific mechanism for enforcement of regulations in this convention.
UN Economic Commission for Europe … was inaugurated in Aarhus (Denmark) on 25th June 1998 and Aarhus Convention … was approved. Iran Islamic Parliament also ratified Act regarding Dissemination and Free Access to Information on January 25 2009 and it was recognized in compliance with expediency of system.
This article examines and compares Aarhus Convention because of it remarkable importance as a model for access to information and its executive mechanism for element of access to information in that convention and Act regarding Dissemination and Free Access to Information so that by means of comparative study on these two documents concerning to element of access to information it can give answer to this proposed question that if Act regarding Dissemination and Free Access to Information may be responsive to public information requirements about the environmental subjects in such a way that to prepare the ground and possibility for public participation in process of environmental decision-making by the public authorities as it reflected in Aarhus Convention.
After review and comparison of information in terms of great constraint and banning in presentation of information titled as ‘confidential’ that has been reflected and executed, the size and subject of accessible information may not meet the requirements of community at the age of explosion of information and in the world that has been converted into a small village. On the other hand, only Iranian nationals have right to access this information and discrimination in nationality is another main barrier against public access to information. To remove this inadequacy and defect, the upgraded laws should be enacted through exploitation from regulations and mechanisms of Aarhus Convention as the world pattern. Among them, the confidential (classified) information size may be noticeably reduced and the persons will have right of access to useful information without discrimination in nationality.

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