CEC Ministerial Meeting Updates Submission on Enforcement Matters Process

11 July 2012: The Council of the North American Commission on Environmental Cooperation (CEC) has adopted new guidelines for submissions regarding the CEC's public Submission on Enforcement Matters (SEM) process, and instructed the CEC Secretariat to undertake new initiatives, including on short-lived climate forcers (SLCFs), e-waste and clean energy.

SEM is the process whereby a citizen or non-governmental organization (NGO) from Canada, Mexico or the US can file a complaint with the CEC asserting that one of the three countries is "failing to effectively enforce its environmental law." In 2011, the Council created a SEM Modernization Task Force to make the process more timely, transparent and accessible.

Regarding timeliness, the Council set new target deadlines for key steps in the process that are expected to halve the average processing time, with parties required to publicly explain reasons for any proposed deadline extensions. On transparency, documents now must be in all three official languages (English, French, Spanish) and available on the CEC website, while Council instructions on factual records must be provided online along with written explanations. As for accessibility, submissions can now be submitted electronically.

The Council also directed additional steps be taken, including creating online tools to help prepare submissions, tracking compliance with the new deadlines, and improving public awareness of the SEM process.

The environment ministers of the three member States, Canada, Mexico and the US, met as the Council in New Orleans, US, on 11 July 2012. The Council is the CEC's chief decision-making body.

The CEC was created by Canada, Mexico and the US to implement the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC), the environmental side accord to the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). [Ministerial Statement] [CEC Press Release on SEM Reform]