Articles 14 and 15 of the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (“NAAEC” or “Agreement”) provide for a process allowing members of the North American public to make an assertion that a NAAEC country (“Party”) is failing to effectively enforce its environmental law. This process is known as the “Submissions on Enforcement Matters” or “SEM” process, and was established to provide the North American public with timely and relevant information regarding the enforcement of domestic environmental law. The SEM process may also provide valuable information to the Parties as they act to fulfill their obligations under the Agreement. The SEM process is a unique and empowering tool that can facilitate public participation, support government transparency, and enhance understanding of environmental law and its effective enforcement in North America. As a fact-finding and non-adversarial procedure, the SEM process is not a dispute resolution mechanism nor can it result in a Party being required to take specific remedial action. Although filing a public submission does not require any special expertise, submissions should include an accurate and clear presentation of the relevant facts.
When considering filing a submission under Article 14 of the Agreement, members of the public should consult the Guidelines for Submissions on Enforcement Matters under Articles 14 and 15 of the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation. The diagram below describes the basic steps in the process. Although filing a submission does not require any special expertise, submissions should include an accurate and clear presentation of the relevant facts.
Moreover, the public Registry of Submissions contains relevant documents filed with the Secretariat through the SEM process.
Members of the public with questions about the SEM process, including how to prepare a submission, are encouraged to contact the SEM Unit of the CEC. Additionally, those with questions or concerns about the environmental enforcement actions of a specific Party are encouraged to contact that Party’s designated CEC point-of-contact. Current Party point-of-contact information may be obtained from the SEM Unit.