The International Joint Commission and Point Roberts: A Venture into a New Area of Concern

Paul Muldoon


The evolving interdependent nature of the Canada- United States relationship suggests there will exist the need to further search for mutually agreed methods to settle disputes. Whether the International Joint Commission is adaptable to meet contemporary challenges that transcend its traditional concerns is a matter of debate. The Point Roberts reference provides valuable insight into this inquiry. As well, the Point Roberts reference portrays an interesting study into the dilemma facing this community and the dynamics of multi-jurisdictional decision-making processes. The Commission's failure to conclusively resolve the dilemma must be considered in light of the nationalistic overtones of the dispute, the investigative framework erected by the bilateral agency and the set of recommendations proposed by the Commission's advisory board. Although care must be taken interpreting the results from a single case study, the reference does signal both the dangers and potential for the International Joint Commission to become involved with matters outside the realm it has customarily transversed.