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Focussing on the role and influence of the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation, Ms. Wilson began the discussion by pointing out that the Commission on Environmental Cooperation is the first complaint mechanism of its kind in the global trading system. Citizens and NGOs from any of the three NAFTA countries may bring complaints against any of the three governments for failure to enforce its environmental protection laws, a system which has yet to be replicated in any other trade agreement. She described article 14 and the process by which the Secretariat receives submissions from citizens and NGOs and how factual records are prepared. Although the CEC is a great step forward for involving civil society and environmental concerns in the regional trade regime, Ms. Wilson pointed out many problems with the system. The CEC's bureaucratic structure means that a great amount of time is needed in order to produce any factual record, a situation is only exacerbated by article 14 and 15's ambiguous wording and has led to many problems in implementation. Parties remain unsure as to what is intended by the wording, questioning the meaning of phrases such as "factual record" that go to the very core of the document. As a result, the article 14 and 15 Guidelines are under constant revision. Professor Tollefson went on to elaborate on the submissions process and the fact that despite NGO involvement, the CEC Council retains a great degree of control over the complaints mechanism. He examined the inability of the Secretariat to access information on Party practices in order to formulate its factual records as each government may claim confidentiality under its domestic laws and refuse to release important documentation. Finally, Professor Ortega provided a case study of one of only two factual records that the CEC has actually produced. Using the example of the Cozumel pier, in which the Mexican government failed to effectively enforce environmental laws in a case involving the construction of a port terminal, Professor Ortega criticized the efficacy and power of the CEC. He pointed out that it took more than a year for the factual record to be produced and expressed disappointment at the ultimate powerlessness of the Council to enforce its own recommendations.

The ensuing discussion looked at the ability of the NAAEC model to be transposed into the World Trade Organization. Ms. Wilson noted the differences between the two organizations, the fact that NAFTA has an environmental side agreement while the WTO is essentially a trade organization. She also looked at the practical difficulties involved when dealing with a global trade regime rather than a regional system. Professor Tollefson indicated that the WTO has been making recent changes to provide for increased NGO participation. The speakers then examined the push-pull relationship within the CEC and the reasons for why any government might agree to such a degree of accountability. Professor Ortega also looked at how the mechanisms might be improved in the context of the FTAA, providing for more environmental protection and greater involvement of civil society. Finally the speakers discussed whether the factual record is a strong enough remedy to provide environmental protection within the regional trading system. While Professor Ortega adamantly stressed the need to reform articles 14 and 15, changing the process and creating stronger remedies, Professor Tollefson indicated that the process itself can spark political pressure on governments and that we shouldn't focus solely on the outcome of the factual records. Ms. Wilson expressed fear that if articles 14 and 15 are reopened for discussion it might only make them weaker and that we must continue working through the Guidelines to clarify the process. She looked hopefully to the fact that the Secretariat is currently hiring more people to make the process more efficient.