The Convention entered into force on 30 October 2001 and progress of ratification is still relatively rapid. The first meeting of the Parties took place in Lucca, Italy on 21-23 October 2002. The Meeting adopted the Lucca Declaration as well as a number of decisions inter alia on PRTR, GMOs, access to justice, electronic information tools, rules of procedure for the Meeting of the Parties, compliance, capacity building, work programme and so on.
An extra-ordinary meeting of the Parties was held on 21 May 2003 in Kiev, Ukraine in the framework of the fifth 'Environment for Europe' Ministerial Conference. The Meeting of the Parties adopted the Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers, which was subsequently opened for signature. 36 States and the European Community signed the Protocol in Kiev.
The second meeting of the Parties took place in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on 25-27 May 2005. The Meeting adopted an amendment to the Convention setting out more precise provisions on public participation in decision-making on deliberate release of genetically modified organisms, thereby bringing to a close a long-standing debate on the topic. The amendment will enter into force once ratified by at least three-quarters of the Parties. The Meeting reviewed the status of implementation of and compliance with the Convention on the basis of the national implementation reports and the report of the Compliance Committee and made recommendations to certain Parties found not be in compliance. The Meeting also adopted the Almaty Guidelines on Promoting the Application of the Principles of the Aarhus Convention in International Forums and a number of decisions addressing both substantive and procedural issues. Finally, it adopted the Almaty Declaration setting out the aspirations and priorities of the Parties and other stakeholders.