3. INTERNATIONAL TREATIES AND CONVENTIONS
www.sre.gob.mx is the electronic portal in Spanish of the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs
This web site can also be accessed through: www.precisa.gob.mx by searching for: "Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores" or simply "SRE"
This electronic portal makes available the text of the treaties and international conventions entered by Mexico at the bilateral, regional and global levels (including dates of signature, publication in the D.O. and entering into force). It also includes the text of the Mexican Foreign Service Act (Ley del Servicio Exterior Mexicano, D.O. of January 25, 2002), and some historic information on the administrative evolution of the SRE, special programs, a diplomatic glossary, etc.
3.1 Secretariat of Foreign Affairs (SRE)
For decades, Mexico has been a very active player in the international legal community at the global, regional and bilateral levels. In recent years, Mexico has enhanced its political and diplomatic presence in Central America and the Caribbean, the European Union, and the United Nations. Today, for example, Mexico maintains diplomatic relations with ninety countries; it has in place 228 treaties and international agreements with the United States and fifty-two with Canada, and maintains forty-two consulates in this country.
Like the United States, foreign affairs in Mexico are exclusively vested (by and through the Federal Constitution), upon the President of the Republic, who operates through the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs (which corresponds to the U.S. Department of State). The President is empowered "to conduct the foreign affairs [of the nation] and to enter into international treaties, submitting them to the approval of the Senate." (Art. 89, para. X, Fed. Const.). In performing this function, the President must abide by the "normative principles" enshrined in the Constitution.
At the domestic level, the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs (SRE) plays a crucial role in the areas of foreign investment, establishment of U.S. companies, acquisition of real estate involving foreigners and U.S. companies, the entering into Fideicomisos, Permits Artículo 27, and naturalizations. None of these transactions can take place in Mexico without obtaining the corresponding permit or authorization from the SRE.
Outside Mexico, Mexican embassies and consulates render important legal services, including civil registry certificates (i.e., marriages, divorces, adoptions, deaths), official conduit for letters rogatory, taking of evidence abroad, extraditions, issuance of the "Consular I.D." (Matrícula Consular), notarial acts, etc. Given the high number of Mexicans in the United States, the SRE recently established a special program tailored to be in contact with and provide some services to those Mexicans who are abroad (Comunidades Mexicanas en el Extranjero).
3.2 Treaties and International Conventions on Conflict of Laws, Business and Environmental Questions to which Mexico is a party
For legal and business purposes, it may be useful to list here some of the treaties and international conventions to which Mexico is a party. This is not a comprehensive list.
- GATT (1986);
- New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (1971);
- U.N. Convention on the International Sale of Goods (1989);
- Inter-American Convention on Letters Rogatory (1978);
- Inter-American Convention on Conflict of Laws concerning Bills of Exchange, Promissory Notes and Invoices (1978);
- Inter-American Convention concerning Commercial Companies (1979);
- Additional Protocol to the Inter-American Convention on Letters Rogatory (1983);
- Inter-American Convention on Proof of Information regarding Foreign Law (1983);
- Inter-American Convention on General Norms of Private International Law (1984);
- Inter-American Convention on the Legal Regime of Powers to be Utilized Abroad
- Inter-American Convention on the Domicile of Physical Persons in Private International
- Inter-American Convention on the Personality and Capacity of Juridical Persons in
Private International Law (1987);
- Inter-American Convention on the Extraterritorial Validity of Foreign Judgments and
Arbitral Awards (1987);
- Inter-American Convention regarding Conflict of Laws regarding Adoption of Minors
- Inter-American Convention on Competence in the International Sphere for the
Extraterritorial Validity of Foreign Judgments (1987);
- Additional Protocol to the Inter-American Convention on the Reception of Evidence
- Convention on Representation on International Sale of Goods (1987);
- Convention on Prescription regarding the International Sales of Goods (1988);
- Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
- Basel Convention on the Transborder Movement of Hazardous Waste (1992);
- North American Free Trade Agreement (1994);
- Universal Convention on Copyright (1975);
- Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (1976);
- U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982);
- Inter-American Tropical Tuna Convention (1954).
- The Hague Convention regarding the Obligation of Evidence from Abroad in Civil or
Commercial Matters (1988).
- Convention suppressing the Legalization Requirement of Foreign Public Documents
3.3 International Judicial Cooperation
The Federal Code of Civil Procedure prescribes the central principle that governs in the area of international judicial cooperation. In matters of a federal nature, this cooperation shall be regulated by this Code (Book Four) and by other applicable laws, except for what is provided by the treaties and conventions to which Mexico is a party (Art. 543).
Regarding international civil litigation, federal and state agencies shall be subject to the special rules, which this federal code sets forth in Book Four (Art. 544). One of these rules provides, for example, that federal and state agencies, and their public officials, "shall be impeded from producing any documents (or copies of them) which exist in the official archives under their control in Mexico; except for those cases which involve a personal matter and the documents or personal archives are permitted by the law and when, through the implementation of a letter rogatory, it is so ordered by a [competent] Mexican court." (Art. 559).
To produce legal effects in Mexico, foreign legal documents must be duly "legalized" by the competent Mexican consular authorities in accordance with the applicable laws, and be translated into Spanish by a duly authorized translator. However, foreign legal documents sent through official channels to produce legal effects need not be legalized (Art. 546).
Letters rogatory (Exhortos) to be sent abroad by a Mexican court are the official communications requesting a foreign judge to carry out certain procedural acts required by a pending lawsuit in Mexico. Said communications must contain the necessary information as well as certified copies, notifications (or summons), copies of the initial complaint, or of the final and definite judgment rendered by the Mexican court, depending upon each individual case, as may be necessary (Art. 550).
When a foreign judgment requires an act of repossession to take place in Mexico, for example, or any other judicial act to be enforced in that country in an "executive manner" (i.e., against the defendant's will or his/her voluntary cooperation), said judgment is to be judicially provided by the competent Mexican court with "executive force." In most cases, the competent court is one with jurisdiction over the defendant's domicile or over the place where the real estate (or assets) is located. The judicial proceedings to endow a foreign judgment with "executive force" requires, in essence, a "mini-trial" requiring the presence of the two contending parties advancing their respective rights and the corresponding evidence. Under Mexican law, these technical and lengthy proceedings are known as Incidente de Homologación (Art. 574).
3.4 Web Sites of International Organizations with Mexican Law Information
Only two international organizations provide information on Mexican law. These are:
Summary of Environmental Law in North America
The Commission for Environmental Cooperation, established as a result of NAFTA, sponsors an excellent trilingual (English/Spanish/French) web site with very useful information describing the environmental law framework in each of the three NAFTA parties: the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
This information covers twenty-five subject areas, and includes an acronym list and a bibliography. The environmental subjects are: (1) Introduction to the Legal System; (2) Institutional framework; (3) Constitutional provisions; (4) General environmental law and policies; (5) Environmental information; (6) Public participation; (7) Environmental impact assessment; (8) Protection of the atmosphere; (9) Protection and management of water resources; (10) Protection of the oceans and coastal areas; 11) Chemical substances and products; (12) Waste management; (13) Responding to environmental contamination; (14) Environmental emergencies; (15) Private land use planning and management; (16) Environmental management of public lands; (17) Conservation of biological diversity and wildlife; (18) Mining; (19) Agriculture; (20) Forests and forest management; (21) Energy; (22) Transportation; (23) Military or federal facilities; (24) Other environmental issues; and (25) Transboundary and international issues.
This is an excellent web site. It includes some two hundred pages of principally environmental legal information presented in a methodical and clear way. This site is current, authoritative and easy to navigate.
This web site is sponsored by the International Labor Organization (ILO).
It gives access to the treaties and conventions to which Mexico has become a party in the area of labor law, welfare and social protection.
This article (Electronic Guide to the Best Mexican Law Web Sites) was posted in early January 2004 in the electronic website LLRX (www.llrx.com) thanks to the generosity of Ms. Sabrina I. Pacifici.