President Barack Obama and President Dmitry Medvedev established the Bilateral Presidential Commission (BPC) in July 2009 to identify and support high-priority areas of U.S.-Russian bilateral collaboration. The BPC has worked to broaden and deepen cooperation in many areas of common interest, including health, agriculture, environment, innovation, education, and nonproliferation.
The commission’s original Mission Statement is as follows:
The United States and the Russian Federation reaffirm that the era when our countries viewed each other as enemies is long over. Recognizing our many common national interests, we are resolved to move beyond Cold War mentalities and chart a fresh start in relations between our two countries to contribute to our future progress and shared prosperity. Under the leadership of President Obama and President Medvedev and coordinated by Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Lavrov, the U.S.–Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission is dedicated to identifying areas of cooperation and pursuing joint projects and actions that strengthen strategic stability, international security, economic well-being, and development of ties between the Russian and American people. Through the commission’s working groups and sub-committees, we will strive to deepen our cooperation in concrete ways and to take further steps to demonstrate joint leadership in addressing new challenges. The foundation for the work of the commission is based on the core principles of friendship, cooperation, openness, and predictability; and we are resolved to address disagreements openly and honestly in a spirit of mutual respect and acknowledgement of each other’s perspective.
The Terms of Reference are as follows:
The Bilateral Presidential Commission is intended to serve as a regular and structured mechanism to advance the highest priority bilateral objectives. The coordinators will meet at least once a year. Working groups and sub-committees should be composed of government representatives and shall meet regularly, as often as co-chairs consider necessary.
Guided by objectives set out in the U.S.-Russia Action Plan agreed by the Presidents in July 2009, working group and sub-committee co-chairs should develop an initial list of priority initiatives and a roadmap for moving forward on those initiatives this year. Working groups and sub-committees are encouraged to liaise, where appropriate, with parallel structures from the business community and nongovernmental organizations, and consider their recommendations.
Working groups and sub-committee co-chairs shall report progress, next steps, and unresolved issues to coordinators at least twice a year. Coordinators shall submit overall progress reports to the Presidents at least once a year.
The composition of the commission may change as some objectives are accomplished and new ones are identified. The commission does not preclude or supersede ongoing or future bilateral cooperative efforts that fall outside the commission’s structure. Working Group and sub-committee participation should be inclusive and representative of government ministries/agencies that have equities on a particular issue.
As of September 2012, the BPC had created 22 working groups chaired by leaders in each federal government.
SOURCE: Information provided by BPC, January 2012 and August 2012.