The Trilateral Commission
The Trilateral Commission is a non-governmental, policy-oriented forum that brings together leaders in their individual capacity from the worlds of business, government, academia, press and media, as well as civil society. The Commission offers a global platform for open dialogue, reaching out to those with different views and engaging with decision makers from around the world with the aim of finding solutions to the great geopolitical, economic and social challenges of our time. Its members share a firm belief in the values of rule of law, democratic government, human rights, freedom of speech and free enterprise that underpin human progress. Members are also committed to supporting a rules-based international system, closer cooperation across borders and respect for the diversity of approaches to policy issues.
The Trilateral Commission was formed in 1973 by private citizens of Japan, Europe (European Union countries), and North America (United States and Canada) to foster closer cooperation among these core industrialized areas of the world with shared leadership responsibilities in the wider international system. Originally established for three years, our work has been renewed for successive triennia (three-year periods), most recently for a triennium to be completed in 2015.
When the first triennium of the Trilateral Commission was launched in 1973, the most immediate purpose was to draw together—at a time of considerable friction among governments—the highest-level unofficial group possible to look together at the key common problems facing our three areas. At a deeper level, there was a sense that the United States was no longer in such a singular leadership
position as it had been in earlier post-World War II years, and that a more shared form of leadership—including Europe and Japan in particular—would be needed for the international system to navigate successfully the major challenges of the coming years.
As our conviction has strengthened that the Commission remains more important than ever in helping our countries fulfill their shared leadership responsibilities in the wider international system, we too have changed. Our membership has widened to reflect broader changes in the world. Thus, the Japan Group has become a Pacific Asian Group, including in 2009 both Chinese and Indian members. Mexican members have been added to the North American Group. The European Group continues to widen in line with the enlargement of the EU. We are also continuing in this triennium our practice of inviting a number of participants from other key areas.