The Trilateral Commission and Global Governance : Informal Elite Diplomacy, 1972-82 book cover
1st Edition

The Trilateral Commission and Global Governance
Informal Elite Diplomacy, 1972-82

ISBN 9781138388574
Published September 10, 2018 by Routledge
272 Pages

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Book Description

This book provides the first analysis of the Trilateral Commission and its role in global governance and contemporary diplomacy.

In 1973, David Rockefeller and Zbigniew Brzezinski founded the Trilateral Commission. Involving highly influential people from business and politics in the US, Western Europe, and Japan, the Commission was soon preceived as constituting an embryonic or even shadow world government. As the first researcher to have accessed the Commission’s archives, the author argues that this study demonstrates that global governance and international diplomacy should be considered a product of overlapping elite networks that merge informal and formal spheres across national borders. This work has three immediate aims: to trace the background, origins, purposes, characteristics, and modus operandi of the Commission; to investigate the elite aspect of the Commission and how this related to democracy; and to demonstrate how the Commission contributed to diplomatic practices and policy-formulation at national and international levels. The overall purpose of this book is to evaluate the significance of the Trilateral Commission, with particular focus on the implications of its activities on the way we understand decision-making processes and diplomacy in modern, democratic societies.

This book will be of much interest to students of the Cold War, US foreign policy, diplomacy studies, and IR in general

Table of Contents


1. Origins and Formation

2. From Results to Process

3. Organization, Leadership, and Funding

4. Commission Membership and the Transition in the US Foreign Policy Elite

5. The Report Program – Or How to Formulate Policy

6. Access to and Relationship with Decision-Makers

7. Informal Diplomacy

8. Revolving Doors: Networks, Alliances, and Impact


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Dino Knudsen is Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and has a PhD in History.


'Research into the history of global governance networks is extensive, yet there still remain a few key gaps that have lacked serious attention due to an absence of credible sources. This book does an important service by covering one of those gaps with consummate skill and attention to detail. Making use of exclusive access to relevant archives and key personnel, and framing it with an accessible theoretical approach, Dino Knudsen's study of the Trilateral Commission decrypts the blending of formal and informal networks within global governance, in doing so providing essential insights into how the world is actually run.' -- Giles Scott-Smith, Leiden University, Netherlands

'This study is the first serious multiarchival effort to reconstruct the concrete impact that the Trilateral Commission had on foreign policy making in the "long 1970s". Exhaustively researched and carefully argued, Knudsen's work makes an important contribution to our understanding of a decade that witnessed politics changing some of its traditional forms and a series of major transformations in international relations. Highly recommended!' -- Jussi Hanhimäki, Graduate Institute, Geneva