One of the main conclusions of the Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court in the case on a claim of International Charitable Organization “Environment-People-Law” against “Aquadelf” Ltd concerns the rights and possibilities of NGOs in the process of environmental protection.
The Aarhus Convention1 defines the principles of observance and implementation of environmental law. It is not only the responsibility of the environmental authorities, but also of the public / It is also intended to play a well-defined role. The Supreme Court took these provisions to consideration. The ability of the public to provide assistance in complying with the environmental law, according to the Aarhus Convention Implementation Guide2, is an important contribution to the work of the governmental bodies.
In general, the conclusion of the court is logical due to the provisions laid down in one of the most important documents governing the activities of NGOs and setting forth the basic principles in Europe – Recommendations of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe of member states CM/REC(2007)14 (regarding the legal status of non-governmental organizations in Europe dated October 10, 2007). The recommendations, among other things, specify the significant contribution of NGOs to the development and establishment of democracy and the protection of human rights. NGOs should be able to freely carry out their objectives provided that their objectives and methods of achievement are in accordance with the requirements of a democratic society.
In addition, the important role of citizens in the management of public affairs is mentioned in the European Charter of Local Self-Government, ratified by Ukraine in 1997. This is one of the democratic principles shared by all member states of the Council of Europe, because civil society is an important element of the democratic process.
This being said, the participation of NGOs in controlling the activity or omission of the authorities is one of the basic principles of a democratic society, in particular, in the field of environmental protection and environmental safety. And especially at a time when environmental control requires significant reform.3
EPL is very pleased with the fact that the Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court in its decisions takes into consideration important European deeds, and references to them are contained in the resolutions. Until recently, there was no chance for that! We hope that gradually, the European legal worldview will be firmly rooted in our everyday life, and European legal norms – in the domestic legal boundaries. In view of this, the resolution of the Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court is a remarkable event not only for non-governmental organizations and environmentalists, but also for the society as a whole. It is our strong conviction!
3White Paper on the reform of environmental control http://epl.org.ua/eco-analytics/bila-knyga-pro-reformu-ekologichnogo-kontrolyu/