International Joint Commission (IJC)
More than a century of cooperation protecting shared waters

About the IJC

The Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909

"The Commission’s advice must be not only independent and objective but also timely, well-founded, honest, and relevant,"

-Guiding Principle No.9, International Joint Commission 

The International Joint Commission (IJC) is an international organization created by the Boundary Waters Treaty, signed by Canada and the United States in 1909.

The International Joint Commission prevents and resolves disputes between the United States of America and Canada under the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty and pursues the common good of both countries as an independent and objective advisor to the two governments.

In particular, the Commission rules upon applications for approval of projects affecting boundary or transboundary waters and may regulate the operation of these projects; it assists the two countries in the protection of the transboundary environment, including the implementation of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and the improvement of transboundary air quality; and it alerts the governments to emerging issues along the boundary that may give rise to bilateral disputes.

Canada and the United States each appoint three of the six IJC Commissioners, including one chair from each country. The two chairs serve concurrently. The Commissioners are appointed by the highest level of government in each country, but once appointed they do not represent the national governments; they operate at arm's length. The Commissioners traditionally work by consensus to find solutions that are in the best interest of both countries. The Commissioners are supported by U.S. and Canadian Section offices in Washington, D.C., and Ottawa, Ontario.

The IJC has established more than 20 boards and task forces to help meet its responsibilities along the Canada-U.S. boundary. Board and task force members are drawn equally from both countries and are expected to work in their professional capacities, not as representatives of an organization or region.