TFR 2 – The Crisis of International Cooperation


Growing interdependence and the inadequacy of present forms of cooperation are the principal features of the contemporary international order. Moreover,

  1. Rapid economic growth and the emergence of new means of communication have thrust together hitherto isolated parts of the world and intensified the existing pattern of relations among the developed countries, resulting in acute strains both within and among nations;
  2. International interaction has developed furthest among the advanced industrialized areas of North America, Western Europe and Japan; unless these regions cooperate, problems involving money, trade, investment, resources, and peace cannot be tackled effectively; if collective action in this crucial area of interdependence were to fail, there would be little reason to expect it to succeed in other areas where links are more tenuous;
  3. Trilateral cooperation, however, has now reached a crossroads on a number of fronts: security factors resulting from detente have encouraged unilateralism and a degree of manoeuver in U.S. foreign policy that is frequently detrimental to Japanese and West European interests; the economic balance of power has shifted against the United States as Western Europe and Japan have consistently expanded trade and growth, while the U.S. finds itself less willing to shoulder past burdens and increasingly subject to rising protectionist pressures at home; social and political changes have led to a new self-assertiveness based on the view that all problems can be solved and it is intolerable if they are not, a view conducive to greater competition both within and among countries; general interdependence has increased enormously in such areas as multinational business, air travel, and the vulnerability of all advanced economies to inflation and changes in the supply of vital resources; finally, welfare considerations have shifted the preoccupation with growth as an end in itself to an awareness of the need for greater governmental direction in shaping growth for social, environmental, and other requirements, thus giving rise to disparities in the policies and priorities of governments. Faced with these problems, the trilateral regions must either cooperate or allow countries to exploit the 'asymmetries' of the situation for their own national gain;
  4. Cooperation between rich and poor remains woefully inadequate, in spite of the network of agencies created after the war to promote development and dramatic increases in aid to the developing world by Japan and Western Europe; there also exists the danger of neocolonialist chasses gardées emanating from regional trade agreements between the advanced countries and the LDC'S.

In view of the foregoing analysis:

  1. There is a need for new forms of common management and structures of decision-making in order to cope with the requirements of a common future; there is a need, too, for changes in the outlook and habits of humanity for which little has prepared it;
  2. The world monetary system must be reformed so as to improve the present system of flexible exchange rates, permit sufficient flexibility to allow for differential economic policies, reinforce recent moves towards a managed international currency, and provide LDC's with more abundant finance;
  3. Governments must be held accountable to one another for their actions; at a minimum, they should not be allowed to get away with unilateral or bilateral faits accomplis that are irreversible; more generally, they should take account of their partners' preoccupations when formulating domestic policies; the same applies in relations between the advanced countries and the LDC'S;
  4. There is an urgent need for an informal public process of collective self-education to generate the joint perspectives from which joint policies can spring;
  5. Ultimately, the final aim must be collective action to formalize consultation among the trilateral areas; perhaps an international Advisory Commission headed by, say, three highly respected states men can be created in future to clarify political stakes and pave the way for domestic acceptance of concession and compromise;
  6. To help achieve these goals, the Trilateral Commission was created with the intention of publishing timely reports on various aspects of contemporary affairs and of involving


François Duchêne, Director, International Institute of Strategic Studies, London
Kinhide Mushakoji, Director, Institute of International Relations for Advanced Studies on Peace and Development in Asia, Tokyo
Henry D. Owen, Director, Foreign Policy Studies, The Brookings Institution, Washington, DC

Table of Contents

Summary of the Report

I. The Crisis of International Cooperation

II. Toward A Common Approach

III. Trilateral Cooperation

  • Topics: Multilateral Cooperation
  • Region:  North America, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Pacific Asia
  • Publisher:  The Trilateral Commission
  • Publication Date:  © 1974
  • ISBN:  0-930503-60-0
  • Pages:  36
  • Complete Text: Click here to download