The ILP is positioned as a Joint Scientific Program of IUGG and IUGS. ILP may have its own National Members, on the condition that this would not negatively affect national membership to IUGS and IUGG.
The ILP is administered by a Bureau of five members. These include the President and the Secretary General, who are named by agreement between IUGG and IUGS; one member appointed by IUGG and one appointed by IUGS. At least one Bureau member will normally represent a developing country. The Past President may attend meetings with voice but without vote. In addition, the National Members may elect a representative invited to attend ILP Bureau meetings with voice but without vote, although they may choose to elect a regular member of the Bureau to represent their interests. The ILP is supported by the ILP secretariat with an executive secretary.
The target areas for ILP focus are aspects of the crust and deeper parts of the lithosphere and the interaction of crust/mantle processes with surface processes and neotectonic activities, especially on the continents and their margins in which both geophysics and geology are involved.
The ILP initiates projects (task forces and regional coordinating committees) selected through a competitive proposal process. The topic or problem around which a project is organized must clearly require an interdisciplinary approach and significant participation by representatives of all branches of Earth science is highly desirable.
Task forces and regional coordinating committees may be created to accomplish specific objectives and shall consist of a limited number of scientists appointed by the Bureau. Consideration is to be given to the appropriate geographical distribution of the members.
The Chair of a task force or regional coordinating committee shall be appointed by the Bureau for a term of 5 years and will report the progress on the topic to the Bureau annually or as requested. Small grants may be awarded especially to support meeting and field travel for scientists from developing countries who are involved in the projects.
ILP projects are expected to have an average life span of 5 years unless extraordinary success warrants continuation.
The ILP supports workshops and/or special symposia at regional, national, or international meetings through projects and coordinating committees or in conjunction with IUGS, IUGG, and other scientific bodies.
The ILP administers an award (a citation and travel grant), the Edward A. Flinn-Pembroke J. Hart Award, given to an outstanding young scientist for contributions in the solid earth sciences addressed by the ILP.