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Colección: INTERAMER
Número: 69
Año: 2000
Autor: Ramón López and Juan Carlos Jordán, Editors
Título: Sustainable Development in Latin America: Financing and Policies Working in Synergy

Box 1

NAFTA and Environmental Enforcement

NAFTA, in particular the Supplemental Agreement on Environmental Cooperation, emphasizes the importance of both government enforcement actions and private enforcement. In Article 5, the Supplemental Agreement lists several actions governments should undertake to effectively enforce their environmental laws and regulations. Such actions include appointing and training inspectors, monitoring compliance, seeking assurances of voluntary compliance, publicly releasing noncompliance information, promoting environmental audits, requiring record keeping and reporting, providing or encouraging mediation and arbitration services, and using licenses, permits or authorizations. It also states that each party shall ensure that judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative enforcement proceedings are available to sanction or remedy violations of its environmental laws and regulations (Article 5), taking into consideration the nature and gravity of the violation, any economic benefit derived from the violation, and the economic condition of the violator. The sanctions and remedies available include compliance agreements, fines, imprisonment, injunctions, the closure of facilities, and the cost of containing or cleaning up pollution.

In addition to its provisions on public enforcement, the Supplemental Agreement contains innovative provisions on private enforcement. Article 6 contains the obligation of each party (U.S., Canada, and Mexico) to enable interested persons to participate in enforcement activities. It states that each party shall ensure that these persons have access to the proceeding and that they may:
  • Sue another person for damages;
  • Seek sanctions or remedies such as monetary penalties, emergency closures, or orders to mitigate the consequences of violations of environmental laws and regulations;
  • Request the competent authorities to take appropriate action to enforce the environmental laws and regulations in order to protect the environment or to avoid environmental harm;
  • Seek injunctions where a person suffers, or may suffer, loss, damages or injury as a result of a violation of environmental laws and regulations or from tortuous conduct.