|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.
The “growing interdependence” that so impressed the founders of the Trilateral Commission in the early 1970s has deepened into “globalization.” That interdependence also has ensured that the unduring effects of the financial crisis that began in 2008 has been felt in every nation and region. It has fundamentally shaken confidence in the international system as a whole. The Commission sees in these unprecedented events a stronger need for shared thinking and leadership by the Trilateral countries, who (along with the principal international organizations) have been the primary anchors of the wider international system. Doubts about whether and how this primacy will change do not diminish, and, if anything, have intensified the need to take into account the dramatic transformation of the international system. As relations with other countries become more mature—and power more diffuse—the leadership tasks of the original Trilateral countries need to be carried out with others to an increasing extent.
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.
When the Trilateral Commission was first launched, the plan was for an equal number of members from each of the three regions. The numbers soon began to grow, and ceilings were imposed about 1980. These ceilings have been raised somewhat since then as new countries came to be represented in the groups.
The European Group includes members from Austria, Belgium/Luxembourg, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. It now has a ceiling of 170 members which is divided into national quotas. Germany has a quota of 20; France, Italy, and the United Kingdom each have a quota of 18; and Spain has a quota of 12. The remaining national quotas range from 6 to 1.
The quota for the North American Group is 120, including 20 Canadian members, 13 Mexican members and 87 U.S. members.
The Japanese Group of 85 members expanded in 2000 to become the Pacific Asian Group and now includes over 100 members from Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, the original five ASEAN countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand), India, and the People's Republic of China. Triennium Participants from Hong Kong and Taiwan have also participated. This group changed its name to Asia Pacific Group in 2012.
To help preserve the Commission’s unofficial character, members who take up positions in their national administration give up Trilateral Commission membership. New members are chosen on a national basis. The procedures used for rotation off and for invitation of new members vary from national group to national group. Three chairmen (one from each region), deputy chairmen, and directors constitute the leadership of the Trilateral Commission, along with an Executive Committee including 36 other members.
Membership in The Trilateral Commission is by invitation only.
Click here to download the Trilateral Commission Membership List.http://trilateral.org/download/files/membership/TC_list_3_23.pdf