This paper addresses the first pillar of the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention), which was adopted at the Fourth Ministerial Conference “Environment for Europe” in Aarhus, Denmark, on 25 June 1998. As of July 2007, the Convention had been signed by 40 (primarily European and Central Asian) countries and the European Community. It had been ratified by many countries and the European Community, which has begun applying Aarhus-type principles in its legislation.
The content of the Convention is structured in 3 pillars. The first pillar of the Convention is the Access to information(articles 4, 5). Public participation stands as the second of the pillars(articles 6 to 8). The third pillar is the access-to-justice pillar(article 9). This paper discusses the Access to information as the first pillar of the Convention.
The access-to-information pillar is further divided into two parts. The first part concerns the right of the public to seek information from public authorities and the obligation of public authorities to provide information in response to a request, and is covered by article 4. The second part concerns the right of the public to receive information and the obligation of authorities to collect and disseminate information of public interest without the need for a specific request, and is covered by article 5.
After examining the first pillar of the Convention, this paper makes some comparative analysis with our legal systems to overcome the current weak points of the access to environmental information of Korea.