The Access Initiative (TAI), one of the centers of excellence at World Resources Institute (WRI) has been the pioneer in advocating the access rights of the people in the developing countries in the context of environmental decision making. TAI is conducting a brainstorming session with experts, academicians, lawyers, researchers and members of international organizations and CSOs to review their research findings on global principles for ensuring procedural justice to public at large.

These research findings have been compiled in the form of a guidebook and would be scrutinized by the dignitaries in various sessions on September 25th, 2013 at the George Washington University Law School.

The guidebook is an attempt to identify, collate and simplify the fundamental administrative procedural principles to propagate administrative fairness in environmental decision making through effective laws and practices. The Access Team at WRI, under the stewardship of Mr. Lalanath de Silva (Director, TAI) drafted these annotated principles to protect the democratic rights of the public, especially the poor and marginalized, and to ensure a coherent governance structure in the context of Principle 10 of Rio Declaration.

Principle 10 mandates the states to improve the capacity of the public to access information and participate in the environmental decisions which will affect their lives and environment. The most effective means of achieving public participation and transparency in the agency decisions can be ensured by adopting administrative procedures which advance the interest of public at large. It was observed that administrative laws of most of the countries protect the rights of the individuals while corporate laws protect the corporations from administrative injustices. However, certain classes of people like poor, indigenous communities, racial, religious and gender related minorities are systematically ignored in the decision making processes largely due to social and jurisprudential biases.

The guidebook provides unbiased and effective legal guidelines to adopt or amend the administrative procedures to mitigate any such systematic exclusions of any class of people at the will of government agencies.

The GW Law School has been instrumental in the development of the guidebook through its International LL.M. student who has been long engaged in the research with TAI through the renowned Energy and Environmental Practicum course. The workshop is open to students and faculty of the law school.

The workshop aims to achieve the following objective at the end of a daylong session:

  • To identify the gap between administrative law and practice with regard to procedural rights of communities and the public.

  • To recognize the adverse impacts of this gap that affect procedural rights of the public and communities.

  • To develop a set of procedural principles that governments must abide by in making decisions that affect rights of the public or communities.