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

Guiding Principles



1.The Commission gives full effect to the spirit and purpose of its mandate as expressed in 

    relevant agreements and references.

2. As a binational institution, the Commission maintains strict impartiality in the performance of its

3. Commissioners represent only the Commission and not the government that has appointed them.
    Advisers and staff
members serve only the Commission and not their respective governments.
    Members of the Commission’s boards or similar 
bodies serve on such bodies in their personal and
    professional capacity and not as representatives of the agencies or
organizations that employ

4. While the Commission comprises two sections and maintains offices in Washington, Ottawa and
    Windsor, it remains a 
single integrated body working collegially in a spirit of openness, mutual
    trust and confidence, and in the common interest 
of both countries.

5. The Commission seeks to achieve consensus wherever possible, both in its own deliberations and
    those of its boards and 
similar bodies.

6. The Commission employs joint fact-finding as a foundation for building consensus and
    determining appropriate action.

7. The Commission affords all parties interested in any matter before it a convenient opportunity to
    be heard. It promotes the engagement of state, provincial and municipal governments and other      
    authorities in the resolution of these matters.

8. While directing its advice and assistance to governments, the Commission takes account of the
    need to foster public awareness of the issue in question and ensure that the public is able to
    contribute to the consideration and implementation of its assessments by governments.

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

10. In environmental matters, the Commission affirms the concept of sustainable development, the
      ecosystem approach, and the virtual elimination and zero discharge of persistent toxic
      substances. While emphasizing the importance of a sound scientific basis for its conclusions
      and recommendations, the Commission also recognizes that it may sometimes be necessary to
      adopt a precautionary approach and to act even in the absence of a scientific consensus where
      prudence is essential to protect the public welfare.

11. The Commission’s rules of procedure must be in accordance with justice and equity.

12. The Commission adheres to the highest ethical standards in all its activities.

13. The Commission seeks to ensure the inclusion of appropriate expertise in the membership of its
      boards, while drawing that expertise from a diversity of sources on a non-discriminatory basis.