What is the SEM?

What is the CAFTA-DR Secretariat for Environmental Matters?

The Secretariat for Environmental Matters (SEM) is an international organization created within the framework of the Free Trade Agreement between the Dominican Republic, Central America and the United States of America (CAFTA-DR). This is the first free trade agreement for the region that includes a chapter related to the environment (Chapter 17). In this regard, the SEM's mission is to carry out the functions established in articles 17.7 and 17.8 of the CAFTA-DR agreement.

In accordance with CAFTA-DR Article 17.7, any person of a Party may present a submission to the Secretariat. A submission is a written assertion that meets the requirements established in Article 17.7.2 of the Agreement and states that a Party (of the Agreement) is failing to effectively enforce its environmental laws.

In this regard, after determining that a submission meets the requirements established in Article 17.7.2, the SEM may request a response from the Party in question. After analyzing the Party's response, the SEM considers whether the submission merits the recommendation to prepare a Factual Record.

The SEM will then prepare said factual record per the terms of Article 17.8 if the Environmental Affairs Council instructs it to do so with the vote of any of its members.

  • The person of a Party is any citizen from any of the CAFTA-DR signature countries. A person can also be a private entity legally established in any country participating in the Agreement.
  • A Party is any of the seven signature countries of the Agreement.