Trilateral Commission Meaning History Criticism

Trilateral Commission Meaning History Criticism

Trilateral Commission: Meaning, History, Criticism

Elizabeth Blessing is a financial writer specializing in growth investing, high-yield stocks, small caps, and gold investing.

What Is the Trilateral Commission?

The Trilateral Commission is a non-governmental forum that brings together citizens from North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. It was formed in 1973 by American banker David Rockefeller and includes private citizens from these regions.

The commission provides an open and global platform to discuss policy issues that impact nations in the three regions. Members include leaders in business, finance, banking, academia, labor unions, non-profits, and various non-government organizations. The commission seeks to foster dialogue among its members to find solutions to social, economic, geopolitical, and globalization challenges.

Key Takeaways

  • The Trilateral Commission was founded in 1973 by David Rockefeller as a non-governmental forum bringing together citizens from Western Europe, North America, and Japan.
  • The commission now includes people from other countries, including emerging market economies like India and China.
  • The commission aims to encourage dialogue among its members to find solutions to social, economic, and geopolitical problems.
  • Members include leaders in business, finance, banking, academia, labor unions, non-profits, and various non-government organizations.

How the Trilateral Commission Works

The Trilateral Commission is led by three regional chairs for Europe, North America, and Asia-Pacific. The commission meets annually to consider strategies and organizational platforms, and regional and national meetings are held throughout the year. The commission’s regional headquarters are located in Washington, D.C., Paris, and Tokyo.

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Membership is by invitation only. Each regional group selects members using established criteria. For the American group, applicants must be nominated by an existing member and approved by the trustees and executive committee. Accepted members serve for six-year terms. The length of membership varies among groups, but a rotation policy ensures there are openings for new members each year.

Members originally came from Western Europe, North America, and Japan. It has now expanded to include people from countries outside of the original three locations, including emerging market economies. Of the approximately 415 members, 175 are from Europe, 120 from North America, and 120 from Asia-Pacific.

History of the Trilateral Commission

The principal founder of the Trilateral Commission was American banker and philanthropist David Rockefeller, who started the commission in 1973 to address the challenges represented by the growing interdependence between the United States, Canada, Japan, and Western Europe.

From 1973 to 1976, the commission’s first director was U.S. international relations scholar Zbigniew Brzezinski, who had served as foreign affairs adviser to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson and later became national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter.

The commission supports private enterprise, economic freedom, and stronger collective management of global problems. Its agendas align with the Group of Seven (G7) summits between the leaders of the world’s largest economies. Members have held key positions in U.S. administrations and the governments of other member countries.

Criticism of the Trilateral Commission

The commission has faced controversy over its existence. Detractors cite the influence some members wield in politics and their associations with government entities as reasons to question the commission’s activities. Critics argue this influence benefits the world’s financial and political elite rather than the general public.

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The commission responds by stating it is an independent organization and is not part of any government agency or the United Nations (UN). Its members may have associations with organizations such as the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bilderberg Group, and the Brookings Institution, but the commission itself has no formal ties with these organizations.

Trilateral Commission Membership

In 2001, the Trilateral Commission began to include economically smaller but emerging countries in its regional structure. For example, Mexico, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Phillippines, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand were accorded members. China and India were first admitted in 2011.

North America is represented by 120 members (20 Canadian, 13 Mexican, and 87 U.S. members). The European group has 170 members from almost every country on the continent. Individual countries have quotas ranging from 20 for Germany to 12 for Spain. The remaining nations have between one and six members.

Asia-Pacific has over 100 members from Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, the ASEAN nations (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand), India, and the People’s Republic of China.

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