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The North–South Centre, officially the European Centre for Global Interdependence and Solidarity, is an autonomous agency — called a Partial Agreement — of the Council of Europe, the oldest political organisation of European states.
It was the outcome of a process started in 1984, when the Portuguese Parliament hosted a conference held by the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly on "North–South: Europe's role".
The Lisbon Declaration, adopted at the end of the conference, broached the idea of a European public campaign on North–South interdependence and solidarity.
The campaign was launched in 1988 with the support of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the European Parliament. It ended with a European conference of parliamentarians and non-governmental organisations (Madrid, 1–3 June 1988), which launched the Madrid Appeal. The Madrid Appeal laid the foundations for a dynamic dialogue between North and South in a spirit of respect for democracy and human dignity in order to allow all the world's inhabitants to enjoy fair, balanced and sustainable development.
The Portuguese government then proposed setting up a European Centre for Global Interdependence and Solidarity, a proposal supported by the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly in a recommendation adopted in January 1989.
The North–South Centre has a twofold task: to provide a framework for European co-operation designed to heighten public awareness of global interdependence issues, and to promote policies of solidarity complying with the Council of Europe's aims and principles—respect for human rights, democracy and social cohesion.
Management system: a four-way partnership
The North–South Centre's status in the Council of Europe, an intergovernmental organisation, is unique: it is run on the basis of a quadrilogue, a term coined to mean the combination of four partners from political institutions and civil society—governments, parliaments, local and regional authorities and NGOs. This system helps build bridges between players with different approaches, viewpoints and priorities, generating constructive synergies.
All the partners in this four-way process take part in running the North–South Centre as members of its decision-making bodies. The Executive Council, which meets twice a year in spring and autumn, is made up of eight representatives of the member states, six NGO representatives, four local and regional authority representatives from the Congress of the Council of Europe, four parliamentarians, three leading personalities from the South, the representative of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe and the European Commission representative. The current president of the Executive Council is Deborah Bergamini.
The Executive Council
The Executive Council adopts the North–South Centre's budget and assesses the conduct of its activities. It also looks at applications from non-European countries wishing to join the centre, which they can then do with the agreement of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. Every two years the Executive Council elects the Bureau, which is made up of the chair and six members.
The Bureau supervises the preparation and implementation of the North–South Centre's programmes. It also prepares the meetings of the Executive Council in close liaison with the centre's secretariat, headed by the executive director, Francisco Seixas da Costa, who was formerly Portugal's ambassador to France.
- Cyprus: November 16, 1989
- Greece: July 4, 1995
- Iceland: January 1, 2000
- Holy See: June 4, 1998
- Liechtenstein: January 1, 1991
- Luxembourg: November 16, 1989
- Malta: November 16, 1989
- Montenegro: March 3, 2008
- Portugal: November 16, 1989
- San Marino: November 16, 1989
- Slovenia: January 1, 1997
- Spain: November 16, 1989
- Morocco: July 1, 2009
Former member states
- Germany: Member from 1 October 2001 to 31 December 2012.
- Ireland: from 1 January 2000 to 31 December 2012.
- France: from 16 November 1989 to 31 December 2007.
- Norway: from 16 November 1989 to 31 December 2012.
- Sweden: from 1 September 1990 to 31 December 2012.
- Switzerland: from 16 November 1989 to 31 December 2010.
- Netherlands: from 22 March 1991 to 31 December 2010.
- Finland: from 1 July 1990 to 31 December 2012.
Global education and youth
Raising European public awareness of issues of global interdependence and solidarity through education and young people
- Programme 1: Strategies and capacity building for global education
- Programme 2: Training and capacity building of young people and youth organisations
Promoting North–South solidarity policies in conformity with the goals and principles of the Council of Europe through dialogue between Europe, the southern Mediterranean countries and Africa
- Programme 3: Intercultural dialogue
- Programme 4: Dialogue on human rights,democratic governance and development
- Programme 5: Migration and co-development
The five programmes reflect a coherent and integrated approach to the concept of global interdependence, recognising inter-relations between the issues and reaching beyond single approaches. The two lines of action and programmes are supported by the programming and communication sector as well as by the management.
As a partial agreement of the Council of Europe, the centre shares the advantages of being institutionally an integral part of Europe's oldest political organisations of States. The Council of Europe is often defined as the "custodian" of Europe's political culture of pluralism, democracy and respect of human rights. The centre is under the administrative responsibility of the Directorate General for Education, Culture and Heritage, Youth and Sport. This tutelage reinforces the intercultural dialogue, education and youth dimensions in the centre's activities.
The centre is a unique confidence-building instrument that enables its partners to analyse, discuss and compare their policies and experiences so that they can share best practices, reach consensuses and influence political debate.
The North–South Centre's work is based on three principles: dialogue, partnership and solidarity. Governments, parliaments, local and regional authorities and civil society organisations constitute the partners in the quadrilogue and are involved in the centre's activities. They are also represented in the centre's statutory bodies. This approach helps to bring the different players in North–South cooperation closer, thereby creating constructive synergies.
The centre carries out studies and organises debates, workshops and training courses. It acts as a catalyst by facilitating meetings between players from different horizons and countries, working on issues of common interest and encouraging the formation of networks. Its expertise is used and recognised by its partners.
The North–South Prize has been awarded every year since 1995 to two candidates who have stood out for their exceptional commitment to the protection of human rights, and the defence of pluralistic democracy and North–South partnership and solidarity.
- Council of Europe
- Council of Europe Development Bank
- European Audiovisual Observatory
- European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines and Health Care