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
democratic 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 2003.
the first triennium of the Trilateral Commission was launched
in 1973, the most immediate purpose was to draw togetherat
a time of considerable friction among governmentsthe
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 leadershipincluding Europe
and Japan in particularwould be needed for the international
system to navigate successfully the major challenges of
the coming years.
the 2000-03 triennium begins, two strong convictions guide
our thinking. First, the Trilateral Commission remains
as important as ever in helping our countries fulfil their
shared leadership responsibilities in the wider international
system and, second, its framework needs to be widened
to reflect broader changes in the world. Thus, the Japan
Group has become a Pacific Asia Group, and Mexican members
are being 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 the new triennium
our practice of inviting a number of participants from
other key areas.
growing interdependence that so impressed
the founders of the Trilateral Commission in the early
1970s is deepening into globalization. The
need for shared thinking and leadership by the Trilateral
countries, who (along with the principal international
organizations) remain the primary anchors of the wider
international system, has not diminished but, if anything,
intensified. At the same time, their leadership must change
to take into account the dramatic transformation of the
international system. As relations with other countries
become more matureand power more diffusethe
leadership tasks of the original Trilateral countries
need to be carried out with others to an increasing extent.
members of the Trilateral Commission are about 350 distinguished
leaders in business, media, academia, public service (excluding
current national Cabinet Ministers), labor unions, and
other non-governmental organizations from the three regions.
The regional Chairmen, Deputy Chairmen, and Directors
constitute the leadership of the Trilateral Commission,
along with an Executive Committee including about 40 other
annual meeting of Trilateral Commission members rotates
among the three regions. It was held in Tokyo in 2000,
in Washington, D.C., in 1999, and in Berlin in 1998; and
it will be held in London in 2001. The agendas for these
meetings have addressed a wide range of issues, an indication
of how broadly we see the partnership among our countries.
A publication on the annual meeting (Trialogue)
draws together each years presentations.
project work of the Trilateral Commission generally involves
teams of authors from our three regions working together
for a year or so on draft reports which are discussed
in draft form in the annual meeting and then published.
The authors typically consult with many others in the
course of their work. The task force reports (Triangle
Papers) to the Trilateral Commission have covered
a wide range of topics.
regional groups within the Trilateral Commission carry
on some activities of their own. The European Group, with
its secretariat based in Paris, has an annual weekend
meeting each fall. The North American Group, with its
secretariat based in New York, occasionally gathers with
a special speaker for a dinner or luncheon event. The
new Pacific Asia Group, with its secretariat based in
Tokyo, had an inaugural regional meeting in November 2000
in Seoul. Each region carries on its own fund-raising
to provide the financial support needed for the Trilateral