Our origins date back to 1960, when 18 European countries plus the United States and Canada joined forces to create an organisation dedicated to global development. Today, our 34 member countries span the globe, from North and South America to Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. They include many of the world’s most advanced countries but also emerging countries like Mexico, Chile and Turkey. We also work closely with emerging giants like China, India and Brazil and developing economies in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. Together, our goal continues to be to build a stronger, cleaner, fairer world.
In a Supplementary Protocol to the Convention on the OECD of 14 December 1960, the signatory countries agreed that the European Commission should take part in the work of the OECD. European Commission representatives work alongside Members in the preparation of texts and participate in discussions on the OECD’s work programme and strategies, and are involved in the work of the entire Organisation and its different bodies. While the European Commission’s participation goes well beyond that of an observer, it does not have the right to vote on decisions or recommendations presented before Council for adoption.
In May 2007, OECD countries agreed to invite Chile, Estonia, Israel, Russia and Slovenia to open discussions for membership of the Organisation and offered a programme of "enhanced engagement" to Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and South Africa.
The accession procedure is complex and can be long, as it involves a series of examinations to assess a country’s ability to meet OECD standards in a wide range of policy areas. This makes it difficult to bring on board more than a small number of new members at the same time.
Andrés Velasco, former Finance Minister of Chile
Chile became a member of the Organisation on 7 May 2010, Slovenia became a member on 21 July 2010 and Israel became a member on 7 September 2010. On December 9 2010, Estonia became a member, once necessary formalities, including parliamentary approval, were completed.
Key partners contribute to the OECD's work in a sustained and comprehensive manner. A central element of the programme is the promotion of direct and active participation of these countries in the work of substantive bodies of the Organisation. The actual mix and the sequencing of the elements is determined by mutual interest.
Over time, OECD’s focus has broadened to include extensive contacts with non-member economies and it now maintains co-operative relations with more than 70 of them.
The Global Relations Secretariat (GRS) develops and oversees the strategic orientations of OECD’s global relations with non-members. 10 Global Forums have been established to address trans-boundary issues where the relevance of OECD work is dependent on policy dialogue with non-members.
Regional initiatives cover Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia; Asia; Latin America; the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The Sahel and West Africa Club creates, promotes and facilitates links between OECD countries and West Africa.
Helping improve public governance and management in European Union Candidate Countries, Potential Candidates, and European Neighbourhood Policy partners is the mission of a joint OECD-EU initiative, the Support for Improvement in Governance and Management (SIGMA) programme.
OECD has official relations with other international organisations and bodies, such as the International Labour Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, International Atomic Energy Agency, and many other United Nations bodies. OECD also co-ordinates with the International Transport Forum, an independent body linked to OECD that deals with issues of improvement of all forms of transport.
The annual OECD Forum, held in conjunction with the annual ministerial meeting, enables leaders from business, labour and non-governmental organisations to discuss key issues on the ministerial agenda with government ministers and senior officials of international organisations.
The OECD also co-operates with civil society on a number of levels. The OECD’s core relationship with civil society is through the Business and Industry (BIAC) and the Trade Union (TUAC) Advisory Committees to the OECD. These advisory bodies contribute to most areas of OECD work through policy dialogue and consultations. This co-operation has been complemented over the years by activities with other representatives of civil society, e.g. non-governmental organisation, think tanks, and academia.
The OECD also maintains close relationship with parliamentarians, notably through its long-standing links with the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, and with the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.
The annual OECD Forum, is a global platform for exchange of ideas, sharing knowledge and building networks. It brings together all stakeholders including government ministers, representatives of international organisations, and leaders of business, trade unions and civil society. The OECD Forum is held in conjunction with the annual ministerial meeting and enables all stakeholders to discuss key issues on the ministerial agenda with government ministers and senior officials of international organisations.