Maurice Strong: The new guy in your future!

By Henry Lamb, eco-logic
January, 1997

Shortly after his selection as U.N. Secretary General, Kofi Annan told the Lehrer News Hour that Ingvar Carlsson and Shirdath Ramphal, co-chairs of the U.N.-funded Commission on Global Governance, would be among those asked to help him reform the sprawling, world-wide U.N. bureaucracy. His first choice, however, announced in the Washington Post on January 17, 1997, was none other than Maurice Strong, also a member of the Commission on Global Governance.

Strong's appointment as Senior Advisor, "to assist planning and executing a far-reaching reform of the world body," is seen by U.N. watchers to be a masterful strategic maneuver to avoid political opposition while empowering Strong to implement a global agenda he has been developing for years. More than 100 developing nations coordinated a "Draft Strong" movement in 1995 to replace Boutros Boutros-Ghali. But Strong's name was never presented publicly as a candidate. His appointment avoids the public scrutiny and the possibility of a veto. As a Senior Advisor to Kofi Annan, Strong will have a free hand to do what he wants while Annan takes the heat - or the praise. Strong prefers to operate in the background. He, perhaps more than any other single person, is responsible for the development of a global agenda now being implemented throughout the world. Although various components of the global agenda are associated with an assortment of individuals and institutions, Maurice Strong is, or has been, the driving force behind them. It is essential that Americans come to know this man who has been entrusted with the task of "reforming" the U.N. - this man Maurice F. Strong.

According to Elaine Dewar, author of Cloak of Green. Strong is a Socialist. He was born into a family who worked to get out the vote for Prime Minister Mackenzie King, who in 1943 was promoting the National Council for Soviet-Canadian Friendship. Strong's cousin, Anna Louise Strong, was a Marxist, and a member of the Comintern, who spent two years with Mao and Chou En-lai. Her burial in China in 1970 was organized personally by Chou En-lai. Maurice is well received in China, partly because of his cousin's connections.[1]

Strong is also closely aligned with Mikhail Gorbachev and was a participant in Gorbachev's State of the World Forum in San Francisco in 1995.[2] His organization, Earth Council, and Gorbachev's organization, Green Cross International, are currently developing a new "Earth Charter" for presentation to the U.N. General Assembly and ratification by all U.N. members before the year 2000. He served on the Brundtland Commission, headed by Gro Harlem Brundtland, then-Vice President of the World Socialist Party. Strong's love for socialist ideas is scattered throughout his professional life - as they apply to everyone else. For himself, he is quite the capitalist.

He ran away from home at 14. His father retrieved him from Vancouver. But in 1945, after completing the 11th grade, Strong was off again to become an apprentice fur trader in Hudson Bay. Strong's business success was remarkable. At 19, he was an investment analyst. At 25, he was Vice President of Dome Petroleum. At 31, he became the President of Power Corporation of Canada. He headed both Petro Canada and Hydro Canada, and made a few deals on the side as well, one of which was the acquisition in 1978 of the Colorado Land & Cattle Company which owned 200,000 acres of San Luis Valley in Colorado -- from Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi.[3]

The ranch, called Baca, sat on the continent's largest fresh water aquifer. Strong intended to pipe the water to the desert southwest, but environmental organizations protested and the plan was abandoned. Strong ended up with a $1.2 million settlement from the water company, an annual grant of $100,000 from Laurance Rockefeller, and still retained the rights to the water.

Strong's success in business was exceeded only by his success in government. From his post as founding director of the Canadian International Development Assistance Program (CIDA), he was elevated by Prime Minister Lester Pearson to represent Canada's interests in international affairs.

Strong's first exposure to the U.N. came in 1947 when, at 18, he went to New York to take a job as assistant pass officer in the Identification Unit of the Security Section. He lived with Noah Monod, then treasurer of the U.N.. Here, he first met David Rockefeller and learned that the U.N.'s funds were handled by Rockefeller's Chase Bank. He also met the other Rockefeller brothers and other influential people as well.

The idea of global governance emerged during this era. John J. McCloy was a member of the law firm that represented the Rockefeller's business interests. McCloy helped set up the World Bank and became its first president. He also became an assistant to Roosevelt's secretary of war, Henry Stimson. McCloy had been with Truman, Andrei Gromyko and Stalin at Potsdam in 1945, and it was McCloy who first received word that the atomic bomb test at Almagordo had been successful. He was appointed to a presidential commission to respond to a Soviet proposal that the United Nations control future development of atomic power. McCloy recommended that the U.S. turn over all information about the atomic bomb, including where to find uranium, to the U.N.. This idea of allowing the U.N. to become a supranational agency was also promoted by the Rockefellers and the Rockefeller-funded Council on Foreign Relations.[4]

Although Strong kept his U.N. job only two months, he met very influential people through Noah Monod who would later prove to be very useful. Strong returned to Winnipeg, failed to qualify for the Royal Canadian Air Force, and took a job as trainee analyst for James Richardson and Sons. By 1951, he had taken a job with Dome Petroleum, on whose board of directors was Henrie Brunie, a close friend of John J. McCloy. Dome became one of the largest oil companies in Canada but its shareholders resided on Wall Street, never very far away from Standard Oil and the Rockefellers.

In 1951 Strong married, and in 1952, abruptly sold his home, quit his job and took a world cruise. He wound up in Nairobi and took a job with CalTex, a company formed to exploit Saudi oil. His job involved travel to exotic parts of the world for two years. Strong visited his distant cousin, Robbins Strong, in Geneva, who was the Secretary of the Extension and Intermovement Aid Division of the international YMCA. He met Leonard Hentsch whose Swiss bank handled the money of the YMCA. Strong wanted to become an international ambassador for the YMCA, but settled for a position on the International Committee of the U.S.A. and Canada which raised funds for the YMCA.

This experience may have been the genesis of Strong's realization that NGOs (non-government organizations) provide an excellent way to use NGOs to couple the money from philanthropists and business with the objectives of government. In 1959, Strong created his own company, MF Strong Management. While serving as executive vice-president of Canada's Power Corporation, he also ran his own company, Alberta gas company, another company called Ajax, and elevated his role in the international YMCA and Canada's Liberal Party. He told Elaine Dewar, "We controlled many companies, controlled political budgets. We influenced a lot of appointments.... Politicians got to know you and you them."[5]

While Strong was expanding his influence in the business world and in Canadian politics, his friend, John J. McCloy became entrenched in the Kennedy administration as the head of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. McCloy continued to promote the idea of turning all defense over to the U.N. through his Blueprint for the Peace Race: Outline of Basic Provision of a Treaty on General and Complete Disarmament in a Peaceful World (Publication 4, General Series 3, May 3, 1962).

By 1966, Strong had moved up again in government. He became Director General of Canada's External Aid. He also became President of Canada's YMCA. Strong's primary job was to deliver the foreign aid promised by Lester Pearson's government. Rather than hire a staff, Strong contracted with a Quebec-based engineering firm called SNC-Lavalin, to supply "technical facilities" with the proviso that the firm would hire only those individuals approved by Strong. External Aid was transformed from a one-man operation to the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in 1968, which Strong headed. His mentor, Lester Pearson, created another institution called the International Development Research Center (IDRC). The IDRC was a quasi-government agency that had unique authority to receive charitable donations -- and issue tax deductible certificates -- and give money directly to individuals, governments, and private organizations. Strong became its head in 1970.

Through his creation and direction of CIDA, Strong controlled the implementation of aid programs on the ground -- including who was hired to do the work, and through the newly created IDRC, Strong controlled the issuance of tax deductible certificates and the distrubution of both private foundation money as well as government money. He was in the perfect position to make many friends around the world. Dewar describes the arrangement this way: "He had helped create a federally funded but semi-private intelligence/influence network that could have impacts both in Canada and abroad."[6]

Strong was chosen to direct Earth Summit I, in Stockholm in 1972, not for his demonstrated interest in the environment, but because the Swedish representative to the U.N. believed that only Strong, with his extensive worldwide network of friends, could get both the developed and developing nations to participate. Strong was very busy when asked to organize the conference. He was recruiting people for Trudeau's new government, and he was managing his private investments which included real estate holdings in a company consisting of two former Canadian officials and himself. He also took a position as trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation which supplied a grant for the running of the Stockholm Conference office. He was also given the writing services of Barbara Ward and of the French ecologist Rene Dubos, who worked for the Rockefeller Foundation.

The 1972 Stockholm Conference on Human Environment (Earth Summit I) had far more international significance than was ever reported. NGO's (non-government organizations) were funded by the Canadian government to attend the conference to give the appearance of participation by the general public. Of course, only those NGOs personally selected by Strong received funding. One such NGO was headed by William Turner, Strong's protege who then headed the Power Corporation which Strong once headed. Strong also personally softened the Chinese to Nixon's initiatives. Strong visited China to persuade them to participate in the Stockholm Conference; the Chinese had not appeared at any U.N. function since the 1949 revolution. The Chinese took Strong to visit the grave of his cousin, Anna Louise Strong. Nixon named Henry Kissinger, who came from the Council on Foreign Relations, as his Security Advisor, and his first assignment was to open secret discussions with China. The Rockefellers gave Kissinger a $50,000 bonus when he went to work for Nixon.

The 1972 Stockholm Conference institutionalized the environment as a legitimate concern of government, and it institutionalized NGOs as the instruments through which government could varnish its agenda with the appearance of public support. The primary outcome of the conference was a recommendation to create the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) which became a reality in 1973 with Maurice Strong as its first Executive Director. Not surprisingly, Nairobi, Strong's headquarters twenty-years earlier, was chosen for the permanent headquarters of the UNEP.

After establishing UNEP and setting its agenda, Strong returned to Canada where he resumed chairmanship of both Petro-Canada and the IDRC. He was introduced to Scott Spangler, who ran a Texas company called ProChemCo. Strong's partnership, Stronat, bought ProChemCo, and changed the name to Procor, which immediately entered into a complex $10 million deal to acquire AZL, also known as the Arizona-Colorado Land and Cattle Company. AZL's major stockholder was Adnan Khashoggi. In the end, AZL acquired Procor, but Strong landed in control of the conglomerate which owned feed lots, land, gas and oil interests, engineering firms, and 200,000 acres which included the Baca ranch in Colorado. Amid this multi-national deal making, Strong became a Vice President of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), a post he held until 1981.

In 1983, Strong was appointed to the U.N.'s World Commission on Environment and Development, headed by Gro Harlem Brundtland, Vice President of the World Socialist Party. Strong also had a colleague appointed as Executive Director, Warren "Chip" Lindner, an American lawyer, based in Geneva who had handled an intricate merger for Strong and who later went to work for the World Wildlife Fund in Gland, Switzerland. Strong, and the World Wildlife Fund, were largely responsible for the content of the Brundtland Commission's final report, Our Common Future. Before the report was released, Strong was looking to the future.

At a luncheon with Swedish Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson in 1986, Strong proposed another world conference on the environment to be held on the 20th anniversary of the Stockholm Conference. Both Sweden and Canada wanted to host the event, but Strong's visit to Collor de Mello, prospective Brazilian President, convinced Strong that the event should be held in Rio de Janeiro. Dewar says: "I was beginning to understand that the Rio Summit was part of a Rockefeller-envisioned Global Governance Agenda that dated back before World War II...."

As Strong organized the Rio Conference, he utilized his vast network to ensure the outcome. His office bought Bella Abzug's airplane tickets to attend a preparatory meeting in Geneva. He asked her to schedule a special conference in Miami for women through her recently formed NGO called Women's Environment and Development Organization (WEDO). Another NGO formed by Abzug in 1981, the Women's USA Fund, had been almost dormant until 1991, when the NGO received nearly $1 million. He arranged for the creation of the Business Council on Sustainable Development. Strong's long-time colleague, and former cabinet minister to Pierre Trudeau, J. Hugh Faulkner, was asked to leave his post as Executive Director of the International Chamber of Commerce to take charge of the new organization. The new organization was immediately accredited to the Rio Conference and designated to advise Strong who "needed people with their feet on the ground to do a reality check on these U.N. guys." The Canadian Participatory Committee for UNCED (CPCU) was entirely funded by the Canadian government and consisted of carefully selected individuals who represented various NGOs.

The practice started by Strong at the 1972 conference, of cloaking the agenda in the perception of public grassroots support from NGOs, culminated in Rio in 1992, with the largest collection of NGOs ever assembled in support of Agenda 21. Only those NGOs that were "accredited" by the U.N. Conference were permitted to attend. And only those which had demonstrated support for the agenda were funded. Dewar calls these NGOs -- PGOs -- Private Government Organizations.

Strong has influence with the major Foundations which provide the funding for NGOs and he has influence with the major international NGOs that coordinate the activities of the thousands of smaller NGOs around the world. Strong has served, or is currently on the Board of Directors of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN); the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF); and the World Resources Institute (WRI); the three international NGOs that have developed and advanced the global agenda since the early 1970s.

Strong also served on the U.N.-funded Commission on Global Governance, co-chaired by Ingvar Carlsson, and Shirdath Ramphal, former President of the IUCN. The Commission's final report, Our Global Neighborhood, sets forth detailed plans to achieve what is called "Global Governance." In his new position as Senior Advisor to Kofi Annan, Strong is again well positioned to implement the agenda he has been developing by calling its implementation "reform." Undoubtedly, Strong's NGO network, funded by Foundations and governments tied to Strong's worldwide interests, will be used to promote the agenda at the national level and at the U.N. level.

One of the first steps likely to be taken will be a recommendation to dissolve the U.N. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). This cumbersome body is one of five original organs of the U.N. designated to oversee economic and social programs. Activities in these areas have expanded to the extent that programs such as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Development Program, and several others, now have their own budgets, staff, and independent headquarters facilities. ECOSOC has become a useless layer of bureaucracy. Strong will be praised for eliminating this waste.

In reality, the move will simply pave the way to strengthen the U.N.'s power and will actually result in more expense. The functions of ECOSOC will be divided between a newly created Economic Security Council, and a reorganized Trusteeship Council. In other words, we will praise the publicly touted "reform" of eliminating one U.N. agency, but probably never even be told of the new activities of two new councils. This projection is based upon published recommendations of the U.N.-funded Commission on Global Governance -- of which Maurice Strong was a member. The implementation of this "reform" will require an amendment to the U.N. Charter.

The G-77 nations, which represent 135 of the 185 member nations of the U.N. held a conference in Costa Rica in January [7] to outline amendments to Article 13 of the U.N. Charter which will be necessary to bring about global governance as described in Our Global Neighborhood. Costa Rica is the international headquarters of Strong's most recent NGO, Earth Council, and the U.N. University, where a portion of the conference was held. Among the other recommendations of the Commission on Global Governance is the elimination of the veto power of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, and a review of the entire concept of permanent member status in ten years. Another recommendation would make decisions of the International Court of Justice binding on all nations. Still another would create an International Criminal Court, and a U.N. standing army, and another would provide for independent finance in the form of various global taxation schemes.

Strong has worked diligently and effectively to bring his ideas to fruition. He is now in a position to implement them. His speeches and writings provide a clear picture of what to expect. In 1991, Strong wrote the introduction to a book published by the Trilateral Commission, called Beyond Interdependence: The Meshing of the World's Economy and the Earth's Ecology, by Jim MacNeil. (David Rockefeller wrote the foreword). Strong said this:

    "This the new reality of the century, with profound implications for the shape of our institutions of governance, national and international. By the year 2012, these changes must be fully integrated into our economic and political life."

He told the opening session of the Rio Conference (Earth Summit II) in 1992, that industrialized countries have:

    "developed and benefited from the unsustainable patterns of production and consumption which have produced our present dilemma. It is clear that current lifestyles and consumption patterns of the affluent middle class -- involving high meat intake, consumption of large amounts of frozen and convenience foods, use of fossil fuels, appliances, home and work-place air-conditioning, and suburban housing -- are not sustainable. A shift is necessary toward lifestyles less geared to environmentally damaging consumption patterns."

In an essay by Strong entitled Stockholm to Rio: A Journey Down a Generation, he says:

    "Strengthening the role the United Nations can play...will require serious examination of the need to extend into the international arena the rule of law and the principle of taxation to finance agreed actions which provide the basis for governance at the national level. But this will not come about easily. Resistance to such changes is deeply entrenched. They will come about not through the embrace of full blown world government, but as a careful and pragmatic response to compelling imperatives and the inadequacies of alternatives."

    "The concept of national sovereignty has been an immutable, indeed sacred, principle of international relations. It is a principle which will yield only slowly and reluctantly to the new imperatives of global environmental cooperation. What is needed is recognition of the reality that in so many fields, and this is particularly true of environmental issues, it is simply not feasible for sovereignty to be exercised unilaterally by individual nation-states, however powerful. The global community must be assured of environmental security."[8]

Maurice Strong has demonstrated an uncanny ability to manipulate people, institutions, governments, and events to achieve the outcome he desires. Through his published writings and public presentations he has declared his desire to empower the U.N. as the global authority to manage a new era of global governance. He has positioned his NGO triumvirite, the IUCN, WWF, and the WRI, to varnish U.N. activity with the perception of "civil society" respectability. And now he has been appointed Senior Advisor to the U.N. Secretary General and assigned the responsibility of reforming the United Nations bureaucracy. The fox has been given the assignment, and all the tools necessary, to repair the henhouse to his liking.



1. Elaine Dewar, Cloak of Green (Toronto, Ontario: Lorimar & Co., 1995), p. 254.

2. The Gorbachev Foundation/USA, "Revisioning Global Priorities," Program Brochure, March 2, 1995. (On file)

3. Marci McDonald, Maclean's, October 10, 1994, p. 51.

4. Elaine Dewar, Op Cit., p. 263.

5. Elaine Dewar, Op Cit., p. 270.

6. Elaine Dewar, Op Cit., p. 274.

7. Robert Pease, "A Chance To Save the United Nations," Cape Cod Times, December 30, 1996.

8. Maurice Strong, "Stockholm to Rio: A Journey Down a Generation." (On file)

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