Secretive versus open organisations and what I prefer


Bilderberg Group 

This year was the 60th anniversary of the Bilderberg conference where a number of invited politicians, military leaders and business people attended. I think it is a bad initiative because it is mainly a secretive activity (although they have a website with some information) for a select group of important people who will discuss some major problems of our planet without involving many who are involved (such as members of unions or poor countries). If indeed the discussions are only informal where no conclusions are reached, then there could still be a press release with abstracts of what has been discussed as is done for normal conferences while now there is only a short agenda. I also think politicians should be open and answer questions of journalists and ordinary people so we know what they are discussing with very influential people leading very powerful organisations such as armies, financial institutions (can you imaging discussing the financial crisis only with those who are mainly responsible for the crisis?), Internet companies (discussing our privacy?) and fossil fuel companies (discussing our future energy use without companies in the business of renewable energy?); then people can decide during elections whether we like the solutions they propose as that is how democracies work (maybe it should be even forbidden that politicians meet business people at secretive conferences although of course they can meet those people at work while private organisations can organise these meetings but within the law). It seems journalists even get arrested for daring to question what is going on behind those closed doors. It also seems there are snipers who may shoot people who try to enter the conference uninvited (I understand powerful people need protection as some people don't like them). Although many subjects are secret, not all are as we know they discussed among others how to respond to the Ukrainian crisis (and this discussion is with military leaders, not only diplomats) without telling us what they agree while I think the general population should know what they discussed (compare with ex-PM Blair who discussed going to war with Iraq in Parliament and the UN although it didn't change the course of history). Still, I can very well understand these people: being invited for such an event means those people are considered important and thus they do as they are ordered: be silent to remain in grace by the even more powerful (and of course, politicians should go to know what is discussed but they should demand as much openness as possible). And that no conclusions are made is probably not true although it may not be written down. Can you imagine all these important people wasting time by attending a meeting where nothing is decided? At least they know what is discussed and what the opinions are of other powerful people, therefore they have advanced knowledge others don't have.

UN (and regional organisations)

Many of the people attending the conference are also those who mistrust the UN and other international organisations such as the EU and some tell us not to trust them. And by telling this often enough, many people believe them and distrust those organisations. I do totally disagree with them (look to the extensive websites of UN and EU to demonstrate their transparency) although I agree that the UN (and EU) should be further reformed so countries become more equal as there is at present too much power in the hands of a few countries with their right to veto decisions. For instance, the yearly conference at the UN is quite open whereby leaders of all countries have the opportunity to speak to the delegates of every other country in the world (and although we don't always need to agree, at least we know what they're saying) while cameras register what they say and broadcast it worldwide. Of course, there are discussions behind the scenes, but in general it is much more open and at the end people know what politicians spoke about. Another example is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) conference that also publishes what scientists know, prognoses for the future and which actions should be undertaken by politicians to prevent disaster. Can they be more open (although deniers claim they are lying)? These meetings are of course only the conclusion of previous discussions, but it is normal people research the subject before such open conferences take place although the public is informed by scientists who publish their results in articles that are also discussed in newspapers. Also diplomats often discuss subjects in private because often this is the best way to reach a solution; still we should know at certain moments what is discussed because discussions can't go on for ever and thus politicians should discuss sometimes how they see certain solutions for problems or what is (not) acceptable. This will inform the public but also diplomats about certain directions they have to follow to prevent that politicians don't agree with the solutions of the diplomats and negotiations have to restart. At the UN, many major problems are discussed and we can hear in the news about the (dis)agreements between the different countries whereby disagreements can indeed sometimes kill when certain countries use their veto to prevent solutions (that is why the UN needs to reform to accept the majority vote although countries that disagree should be able to opt-out when actions are needed). This is in contrast to the Bilderberg conference where it seems even the agenda is not completely published and only a select number of people are invited so that the rest of the world has to guess the issues they discuss and whether they reach any conclusions, thereby creating an environment of secrecy and thus paranoia amongst the public, something that is certainly unhealthy.

Lobbying groups are part of the game

Lobbying groups are present at both the Bilderberg conference and international organisations and I am in favour of these groups as long as they are public and polite and different groups are included in discussions (thus also unions representing workers) because they inform politicians and other decision makers about the different sides of the argument so that those who have to take decisions know the different options and thus can take an informed decision. Lobbying groups are in fact part of the ultimate democracy because they unite people who want to inform decision makers about their points-of-view as it is not possible that each individual is heard by policymakers as there are too many people, unless maybe at local level. Of course, some are idiots such as those in favour of fossil fuel (coal, oil and gas) when the vast majority of scientists (and some evidence) contradicts them and warn us of the consequences of continued fossil fuel use; those lobbyists can be ignored until, in order to be able to continue meeting the powerful and continue having influence, they join the camp that tries to find solutions for our fossil fuel dependency. Also people who still claim that smoking doesn't cause damage or that the right to carry weapons should be defended because it protects us against criminals can today be ignored unless they come with solutions.

Conclusion

Indeed, world problems should be discussed in open regional or worldwide governments where every country can have its views expressed so everyone knows what is going on although that doesn't mean we have to agree with everyone while also the public is informed. It may reduce tensions in the world to a large extent when countries have the impressions others take their views into account, certainly when no country can veto decisions any longer that are made with majority vote (although of course, countries with larger populations should have a larger vote). Although, when someone who voted against human rights in his own country (Uganda) can lead the UN general assembly (Parliament) that discusses reports on human rights abuses, then I wonder how this organisation is evolving and what the future may bring.

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