The 63rd annual Bilderberg Conference took place this past week from June 11-14 in Telfs-Buchen, Austria, where world leaders in business, international relations, finance, and academia met to discuss a wide range of topics behind locked doors.
A total of 140 participants from 22 countries attended; this list includes representatives from Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) including cofounder Henry R. Kravis and David Petraeus, chairman of KKR’s Global Institute, as well as British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. It’s interesting to note the wide variety of participants, including those known for business, politics, and finance.
Founded in 1954, the Bilderberg conference was created, according to its website, to “foster dialogue between Europe and North America.” Every year, 120-150 political leaders, financial gurus, and academics meet to discuss a wide range of topics relating to politics and business trends. The meetings are subject to the Chatham House Rule, which means attendees are allowed to use the information they receive at the conference so long as they don’t identify where the information came from. There is no official agenda, no resolutions, no votes, and no policy statements.
This year’s topics included artificial intelligence, cyber security, globalization, terrorism, Greece, and issues in the Middle East.
While the organization of the conference allows attendees to informally discuss tough issues in a relatively safe, enclosed environment, the flip side is that, because the conference proceedings are secret, many outsiders worry that the conference boils down to a conspiracy of the global elite.
On the other hand, attendee names and affiliations are available to the public, and some media outlets are actually allowed to attend, assuming they’re willing to agree to conditions of the utmost secrecy.
“[Bilderberg] is one of the key meetings of the year,” wrote Will Hutton in 1998. “The consensus established is the backdrop against which policy is made worldwide.” This suggests that, while no official policies are decided at the meeting, the mere fact that a large number of influencers get together to discuss issues has a huge impact on what policy is later decided.