Trilateral Commission

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The Trilateral Commission
Founded1973; 48 years ago (1973)
TypeAnnual conference
HeadquartersTokyo (Asia Pacific Group)
Paris (European Group)
Washington, D.C. (North American Group)
More than 390
Akihiko Tanaka (Asia Pacific chairman)
Jean-Claude Trichet (European chairman)
Meghan O'Sullivan (North American chairman)

The Trilateral Commission is a non-governmental discussion group founded by David Rockefeller in July 1973 to foster closer cooperation between Japan, Western Europe and North America.[1][2]



The Trilateral Commission was formed in 1973 by private citizens of Japan, North American nations (the U.S. and Canada), and Western European nations[2] to foster substantive political and economic dialogue across the world. The idea of the Commission was developed in the early 1970s, a time of considerable discord among the United States and its allies in Western Europe, Japan, and Canada.[3] To quote its founding declaration:

  • "Growing interdependence is a fact of life of the contemporary world. It transcends and influences national systems... While it is important to develop greater cooperation among all the countries of the world, Japan, Western Europe, and North America, in view of their great weight in the world economy and their massive relations with one another, bear a special responsibility for developing effective cooperation, both in their own interests and in those of the rest of the world."
  • "To be effective in meeting common problems, Japan, Western Europe, and North America will have to consult and cooperate more closely, on the basis of equality, to develop and carry out coordinated policies on matters affecting their common interests... refrain from unilateral actions incompatible with their interdependence and from actions detrimental to other regions... [and] take advantage of existing international and regional organizations and further enhance their role."
  • "The Commission hopes to play a creative role as a channel of free exchange of opinions with other countries and regions. Further progress of the developing countries and greater improvement of East-West relations will be a major concern."[4]

Zbigniew Brzezinski, a Rockefeller advisor who was a specialist on international affairs (and later President Jimmy Carter's National Security Advisor from 1977 to 1981), left Columbia University to organize the group, along with:[5]

Other founding members included Alan Greenspan and Paul Volcker, both later heads of the Federal Reserve System.

The organization's records are stored at the Rockefeller Archive Center in North Tarrytown, NY.[8]


The Trilateral Commission initiated its biannual meetings in October 1973 in Tokyo, Japan. In May 1976 the first plenary meeting of all of the Commission's regional groups took place in Kyoto, Japan. Since the ninth meeting in 1978, plenary meetings have taken place annually. Besides annual plenary meetings, regional meetings have also taken place in each of the Asia Pacific Group, the European Group and the North American Group.[9] Since its founding, the discussion group has produced an official journal, Trialogue.


Membership is divided into numbers proportionate to each of the think tank's three regional areas. North America is represented by 120 members (20 Canadian, 13 Mexican and 87 U.S. citizens). The European group has reached its limit of 170 members from almost every country on the continent; the ceilings for individual countries are 20 for Germany, 18 for France, Italy and the United Kingdom, 12 for Spain and 1–6 for the rest. At first Asia and Oceania were represented only by Japan, but in 2000 the Japanese group of 85 members became the Pacific Asia group, comprising 117 members: 75 Japanese, 11 South Koreans, 7 Australian and New Zealand citizens, and 15 members from the ASEAN nations (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand). The Pacific Asia group also included 9 members from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The commission now claims "more than 100" Pacific Asian members.[4]

The Trilateral Commission's bylaws deny membership to public officials.[10] It draws its members from politics, business, and academia, and has three chairpersons, one from each region. The current chairs are former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Joseph S. Nye, Jr., former head of the European Central Bank Jean-Claude Trichet, and Yasuchika Hasegawa, chair of Takeda Pharmaceutical Company.[11]


As of June 2020[12]

Name Position
Jean-Claude Trichet European Chairman
Meghan O'Sullivan North American Chairman
Akihiko Tanaka Asia Pacific Chairman
Alexandra Papalexopoulou European Deputy Chairman
Herminio Blanco Mendoza North American Deputy Chairman
Barry Desker Asia Pacific Deputy Chairman
Carl Bildt European Deputy Chairman
Carole Taylor North American Deputy Chairman
Jin Roy Ryu Asia Pacific Deputy Chairman
David Rockefeller (deceased) Founder
Peter Sutherland (deceased) Honorary European Chairman
Georges Berthoin European Honorary Chairman
Paul Volcker (deceased) North American Honorary Chairman
Yasuchika Hasegawa Asia Pacific Honorary Chairman
Paolo Magri European Director
Richard Fontaine North American Director
Hideko Katsumata Asia Pacific Director

Notable members[edit]


Social critic and academic Noam Chomsky has criticized the commission as undemocratic, pointing to its publication The Crisis of Democracy, which describes the strong popular interest in politics during the 1970s as an "excess of democracy".[18] He described it as one of the most interesting and insightful books showing the modern democratic system not to really be a democracy at all, but controlled by elites. Chomsky says that as it was an internal discussion, they "let their hair down" and talked about how the public needs to be reduced to its proper state of apathy and obedience.[19]

Critics accuse the Commission of promoting a global consensus among the international ruling classes in order to manage international affairs in the interest of the financial and industrial elites under the Trilateral umbrella.[20][21]

In his 1980 book With No Apologies, Republican Senator Barry Goldwater suggested that the discussion group was "a skillful, coordinated effort to seize control and consolidate the four centers of power: political, monetary, intellectual, and ecclesiastical... [in] the creation of a worldwide economic power superior to the political governments of the nation-states involved."[22] Right-wing groups such as the John Birch Society and conspiracy theorists such as Alex Jones have also promulgated this idea.[23]

Conspiracy theories

Some conspiracy theorists believe the organization to be a central plotter of a world government or synarchy. As documented by journalist Jonathan Kay, Luke Rudkowski interrupted a lecture by former Trilateral Commission director Zbigniew Brzezinski in April 2007 and accused the organization and a few others of having orchestrated the 9/11 attacks to initiate a new world order.[24]

Neo-conservative pundit Charles Krauthammer sardonically alluded to the conspiracy theories when he was asked in 2012 who makes up the "Republican establishment", saying, "Karl Rove is the president. We meet every month on the full moon... [at] the Masonic Temple. We have the ritual: Karl brings the incense, I bring the live lamb and the long knife, and we began... with a pledge of allegiance to the Trilateral Commission."[25]



  • Crozier, Michel; Huntington, Samuel; Watanuki, Joji (1975). The Crisis of Democracy: Report on the Governability of Democracies to the Trilateral Commission. New York: New York University Press. ISBN 0-8147-1365-3.
  • The Global Economic Crisis. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution. 2011. ISBN 978-0-930503-93-2.
  • Nuclear Disarmament and Nonproliferation. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution. 2011. ISBN 978-0-930503-94-9.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "David Rockefeller". Trilateral Commission. Retrieved 14 March 2013.
  2. ^ a b "ABOUT THE TRILATERAL COMMISSION". Retrieved Jul 12, 2018.
  3. ^ "FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS". The Trilateral Commission. Retrieved Jul 12, 2018.
  4. ^ a b "The Trilateral Commission FAQ". The Trilateral Commission. 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-17.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h “The Trilateral Commission (North America) Records“. Rockefeller Archives.
  6. ^ a b George S. Franklin Jr., 82, Foreign Policy Expert David Stout. New York Times. March 7, 1996. Retrieved May 12, 2016
  7. ^ a b "Tadashi Yamamoto, pioneer of international exchange, dies at 76". Asahi Shimbun. 2012-04-16. Archived from the original on 2012-08-01. Retrieved 2012-05-08.
  8. ^ "Treasures Within a Treasure: The Rockefeller Archives Center". 2018-02-27. Retrieved 2019-01-04.
  9. ^ "Meetings". The Trilateral Commission. Retrieved Jul 12, 2018.
  10. ^ "Answer to a written question - Incompatibility between the holding of a Community decision-making office and membership of the Bilderberg Club and the Trilateral Commission - E-1846/2003". European Parliament. August 6, 2003. Retrieved 2011-11-12.
  11. ^ "Trilateral Commission Membership" (PDF). October 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-12.
  12. ^ Membership June 2020. Trilateral Commission. Retrieved 2020-06-11.
  13. ^ a b c “Who's Who on the Trilateral Commission”. Trilateralism: The Trilateral Commission and Elite Planning for World Management. Boston, MA: South End Press, 1980. ISBN 0896081036 ISBN 0896081044 OCLC 6958001 (pp. 90-122).
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Sutton, Antony C. and Patrick M. Wood. Trilaterals Over Washington, Vol. 1, “Appendix A: The Trilateral Commission: Membership List, as of October 15, 1978”. Scottsdale, AZ: The August Corporation, 1978. ISBN 0933482019 LCCN 78-78277. (pp. 155-165)
  15. ^ "Jeffrey Epstein Was A Member Of The Trilateral Commission - Technocracy News & Trends | Podcast Search Engine by Vocalmatic". Retrieved 2020-12-07.
  16. ^ "8 of the world's most exclusive clubs — can you join?".
  17. ^ April 2018 European Membership List. Trilateral Commission. Retrieved 2020-06-11.
  18. ^ Noam., Chomsky (1999). Profit over people : neoliberalism and global order (Seven Stories Press 1st ed.). New York: Seven Stories Press. ISBN 1888363827. OCLC 39505718.
  19. ^ Chomsky's Philosophy (2017-04-18), Noam Chomsky - The Crisis of Democracy, retrieved 2018-09-03
  20. ^ Cold Warriors: The Trilateral Commission (Documentary). 1984.
  21. ^ “The Commission's Purpose, Structure, and Programs: In Its Own Words”. Trilateralism: The Trilateral Commission and Elite Planning for World Management. Boston: South End Press, 1980. ISBN 0-89608-103-6, ISBN 0-89608-104-4, OCLC 6958001. pp. 83-89.
  22. ^ Goldwater, Barry. With No Apologies. Co-authored with Stephen Shadegg. Berkley, 1980. ISBN 0-425-04663-X p. 299.
  23. ^ Barry, Dan (June 25, 2009). "Holding Firm Against Plots by Evildoers". The New York Times.
  24. ^ Kay, Jonathan. Among the Truthers: A Journey Through America's Growing Conspiracist Underground. New York: Harpers, 2011. ISBN 978-1-55468-630-8. pp. 200–201
  25. ^ "Krauthammer's Take". Special Report with Bret Baier. Retrieved January 26, 2012.

Further reading[edit]



External links[edit]