Governance of International Institutions: A Review of the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation's Citizen Submissions

37 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2005

See all articles by David L. Markell

David L. Markell

Florida State University - College of Law


The number of international institutions has increased dramatically in recent years. This is true in the arena of environmental protection, among others.

One of the important issues associated with the creation of these institutions involves the allocation of responsibility for their management and implementation. Specifically, a central question involves the roles that non-State actors play in the operation of such institutions. Some commentators suggest that the roles of such actors in international governance has expanded in recent years. The allocation of authority for the implementation of international regimes is obviously of considerable importance as we experiment with new forms of global governance.

This article reviews this allocation of authority or jurisdictional boundaries question through a review of the structure and experience of a relatively new international institution, the North American Commission for Environmental Conservation (CEC). The CEC has been termed a brave experiment in institution-building. Among other things, the CEC: 1) is the first international organization created to address the environmental aspects of economic integration; 2) has innovative tools and almost unlimited jurisdiction to address regional environmental problems; and 3) provides unprecedented opportunities for participation by civil society at the international level. The CEC's citizen submissions process, an aspect of the CEC that has been called its most innovative and substantial mechanism for fostering transparency and public participation, is the particular focus of this article.

Based on its review of the experience of the CEC, with particular attention to the issue of jurisdictional boundaries, the article offers some thoughts concerning the possible future of the citizen submissions process, including the possibility that particular actions by the State actors may undermine the credibility of the process and the interest of non-governmental organizations in continuing to use it. The article also identifies some of the issues the CEC experience raises for regional and global governance more generally.

Suggested Citation

Markell, David L., Governance of International Institutions: A Review of the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation's Citizen Submissions. North Carolina Journal of International Law and Commercial Regulation, Vol. 30, p. 759, 2005, FSU College of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 155, Available at SSRN:

David L. Markell (Contact Author)

Florida State University - College of Law ( email )

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