The Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents (CETS No. 205), also known as the Tromsø Convention, enters into force on 1 December 2020, in respect of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Lithuania, Montenegro, Norway, the Republic of Moldova, Sweden and Ukraine. On 1 September 2022, the Convention entered into force in respect of Armenia. More recently, the Convention entered into force on 1 November 2022 in respect of Albania. 

As the first binding international legal instrument which recognises a general right of access to official documents held by public authorities, the Tromsø Convention constitutes a milestone in the promotion of democratic governance, openness, participatory democracy and in the exercise of other human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The Tromsø Convention concentrates a core of provisions reflecting national practices in the field of access to official documents and is founded on three main principles:

  • Transparency of public authorities;
  • Self-development of people and the exercise of their fundamental human rights;
  • Public’s confidence in public authorities.

The Convention establishes a set of minimum standards for the prompt and fair processing of requests for access to official documents that Parties to the Tromsø Convention undertake to implement. The spirit behind this is, of course, to encourage the Parties to reinforce domestic provisions that allow a more extensive right of access to official documents, provided that the minimum core is nonetheless implemented.

The Convention also includes review procedures for applicants for access to official documents when access is denied.

Even though the Tromsø Convention provides for a general right of access to official documents, limitations to this right may be justified only in the narrowly circumscribed cases provided for in the Convention.

The Tromsø Convention is open to accession by any State which is not a member of the Council of Europe or any international organisation in accordance with the requirements of Article 17 of the Convention.

Upcoming meetings Upcoming meetings

         22-24 March 2023
         (2nd meeting)