©Lauri Heikkinen/Valtioneuvoston kanslia

The year 1968 was very important in many respects. There were youth revolts throughout Europe contesting the old order. In Vietnam, the war had intensified. The Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia ended with a Soviet intervention.

©RGA/REA

[…] The French Senate and the French nation, in all their political bodies, are proud to host the OECD in Paris. The presence of a multilateral organisation as eminent as yours is an asset for Paris and for France, as well as a showcase for the French language, which is an official working language of your organisation. […]

Finland prepares to join: OECD Secretary-General Thorkil Kristensen (right) welcomes Tankmar Horn, Undersecretary of State, Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. ©OECD Observer archive 1969

Finland marks its 50th anniversary as an OECD member country on 28 January 2019. Though not a founding member when the OECD commenced in September 1961, Finland’s interest in joining was never in doubt. However, it adopted a cautious approach.

©Hervé Cortinat/OECD

Hecate is one of Greek mythology’s many intriguing goddesses. A three-headed character, she is associated with sorcery, but also with boundaries and walls, as well as crossroads, entranceways, gates and doorways, and lights. She is depicted carrying torches and keys, so that while some historians see Hecate as a protector who bestows prosperity, others compare her to the Roman Janus, a symbol of openings and new beginnings, able to light the way ahead.

©OECD/Michael Dean

Did you know that each of the OECD’s 35 member countries is represented by a mission with full diplomatic status? The size of these OECD delegations varies by country size, but each one has a permanent representative at ambassadorial level, including this author. Together we make up the OECD Council that oversees the work programme set by member countries for the organisation. But our role goes beyond mere representation.  

Haguiwara Toru and Thorkil Kristensen, Memorandum of Understanding to join the OECD, signature of the Convention, in the OECD Observer No 6, October 1963, page 3 ©OECD

OECD membership crowned Japan’s efforts to reintegrate into the international community after the Second World War, while helping to turn the organisation into a global, rather than European, player. But the country’s accession had to be managed with great care, reflecting tensions of the time. 

Kumiharu Shigehara

Japan and the OECD have worked hard to get to know each other over the last 50 years.

©David Rooney

The political landscape of global governance is changing profoundly. This is posing great challenges to policy makers and organisations such as the OECD.

The OECD’s capacity for change, inspired more by professional pathfinding than by politics, has transformed it into a multi-disciplinary policy innovator that can continue to build signposts for the future.

The OECD has transformed itself into a policy pathleader on a whole range of public policies–national, regional and local–with the avowed aim of promoting human progress. But is the new OECD a child or a prisoner of its past?

It would be easy to think that the organisation created in 1961 was the inevitable next stage in the evolution of the OEEC, the European body originally set up to administer the Marshall Plan in 1947. But the OECD did not simply "replace" the OEEC. Nor was its creation inevitable or easy.

Economic data

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Consumer price inflation: 1.6% September 2019 annual
Trade: -1.9% exp, -0.9% imp, Q2 2019
Unemployment: 5.1% August 2019
Last update: 6 November 2019

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