“You have been selected to attend the 60th Bilderberg conference in Chantilly, Virginia from May 31 – June 3, 2012. This conference brings together leaders of business, economics, media, finance, politics and military in a forum which will allow for open and off the record discussions of current events and global issues.
I must stress that this meeting is SECRET and by invitation only. We operate under Chatham House Rules, meaning you are not permitted to discuss anything that is said during the conference to members of the media or otherwise.
Please keep all of your arrangements confidential, including all of the information included herein. In recent years we have lost much of our control over the dissemination of information due to the rise of independent media sources and internet-based journalists. We intend to correct this problem and plan to discuss it at this year’s conference.” (1)
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The Chatham House Rule
The Chatham House Rule is a core principle that governs the confidentiality of the source of information received at a meeting. The rule originated in June 1927 at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, also known as Chatham House. Since its refinement in 2002, the rule states:
When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.
The rule allows people to speak as individuals and to express views that may not be those of their organisations, and therefore, encourages free discussion. Speakers are free to voice their own opinions, without concern for their personal reputation or their official duties and affiliations. The Chatham House Rule resolves a boundary problem faced by many communities of practice, in that it permits acknowledgment of the community or conversation, while protecting the freedom of interaction that is necessary for the community to carry out its conversations.
The aim of the rule is to guarantee anonymity to those speaking within its walls so that better international relations may be achieved. The rule is now used internationally as an aid to free discussion. The original rule was refined in October 1992 and again, in 2002. Chatham House has translated the rule into Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish and Russian.
Meetings, or parts of meetings, either may be held on the record, or, under the Chatham House Rule. In the latter case, all participants are understood to have agreed that it would be conducive to free discussion that they should be subject to the rule for the relevant part of the meeting. The success of the rule may depend upon it being considered morally binding, particularly in circumstances where a failure to comply with the rule may not result in sanction.
Care needs to be taken not to invoke the Chatham House Rule where what is intended is that the views discussed be kept confidential. The Chatham House Rule is intended to promote public discussion of the views expressed at a meeting, but without attributing those views to any individual or organisation. (2)
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