The South Commission’s report “The Challenge to the South” was launched in 1990

3 August 1990: The Report recommended creating a South Secretariat that would provide the technical foundation (analysis, research and negotiation support) needed by the South for working collectively. The South Centre was established in November 1990 to follow-up the Report’s recommendations and became an intergovernmental organization established by treaty in 1995.

31 July 1995: The Agreement to Establish the South Centre entered into force

The South Centre was established as a permanent intergovernmental organization mandated to provide policy advice, undertake research and analysis, support coordinated actions by developing countries in negotiating processes, and promote South-South cooperation.

“As the premier source of research on issues affecting the South, and growing out of the work and experience of the South Commission, the (South) Centre plays a role whose value for the developing world cannot be underestimated”

Nelson Mandela, in his speech to the Second Meeting of the Council of Representatives of the South Centre held in New York, in 1998.

The South Conference reviews the challenges ahead

The annual South Conference of the South Centre has become a major event for developing countries to review the state of the world, their development prospects, and the continuing and emerging challenges that the South faces.

North-South Dialogue

The South Centre seeks to promote North-South dialogue on issues of common global concern on the basis of equality and mutual respect.

Promoting the South at international events

The South Centre participates in major international conferences, particularly those supporting South-South cooperation such as summits of the G77 and China, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Asian-African Conference. In the organizations where the South Centre holds observer status (UN General Assembly, WHO, UNCTAD, UNFCCC, WTO, WIPO among many others) it promotes the views and perspectives of the South.

Providing analysis on global macroeconomic and financial issues

The South Centre carries out forward-thinking analyses of global macroeconomic and financial issues, highlighting the development implications and prospects for the South and providing recommendations for appropriate action.

Addressing the challenges of climate change

The South Centre is actively engaged in the climate change and sustainable development negotiations where it promotes the development rights and interests of developing countries.

Making the global trade system fairer and inclusive

Making the trade and investment systems fair and inclusive to the benefit of all its members has always been one of the main priorities of the South Centre. In this regard, the South Centre assists developing countries in understanding the development implications of WTO, free trade and investment agreements.

Innovation, health, and development of the South

Innovation, health and development are inter-linked issues that affect the peoples of the South. These are areas in which the South Centre continues to engage in to identify specific concerns  of developing countries (such as access to medicines, transfer of technology, antibiotic resistance, biodiversity protection, intellectual property rights).

Helping create future leaders of the South

Creating an informed South for the future depends on providing information and analyses to young future developing country policymakers.


The South Centre provides seminars and workshops to expose students, policymakers, and other professionals from the South to multilateral policy issues that affect the development of their countries.

South Unity in diversity, South Progress through cooperation

Promoting South-South cooperation through cooperation with the South’s other institutions such as the G77, Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), and regional organizations is an important part of the South Centre’s work.

South Unity in action

Promoting South-South cooperation in practice at multilateral policy negotiations is a key aspect of the South Centre’s work, as it seeks to build South unity and progress.

From the South Commission to the South Centre

The journey continues in strengthening the multilateral intergovernmental policy research institution of the South towards South Unity and South Progress.


Map shows South Centre Membership as of 2015.

Research Papers

Research Paper 63, October 2015

Foreign Direct Investment, Investment Agreements and Economic Development: Myths and Realities

Foreign direct investment (FDI) is one of the most ambiguous and the least understood concepts in international economics. Common debate on FDI is confounded by several myths regarding its nature and impact on capital accumulation, technological progress, industrialization and growth. It is often portrayed as a long term, stable, cross-border flow of capital that adds to productive capacity, helps meet balance-of-payments shortfalls, transfers technology and management skills, and links domestic firms with wider global markets. However, none of these are intrinsic qualities of FDI. (more…)

Research Paper 62, September 2015

Intellectual Property in the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Increasing the Barriers for the Access to Affordable Medicines

Most free trade agreements signed by the United States, the European Union and the members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) in the last 15 years contain chapters on intellectual property rights with provisions applicable to pharmaceuticals. Such provisions considerably expand the rights recognized to pharmaceutical companies under the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) established in the context of the World Trade Organization. (more…)

Research Paper 61, March 2015

Guidelines on Patentability and Access to Medicines

Until recently, the link between the examination of patents carried out by national patent offices and the right of citizens to access to medicines was not at all clear. They were two functions or responsibilities of the State that apparently had nothing to do with each other. Examining the growing literature on intellectual property and access to medicines, it seems that the analysis of one actor has been left out: the patent offices. (more…)

Research Paper 60, January 2015

Internationalization of Finance and Changing Vulnerabilities in Emerging and Developing Economies

After a series of crises with severe economic and social consequences in the 1990s and early 2000s, emerging and developing economies (EDEs) have become even more closely integrated into what is widely recognized as an inherently unstable international financial system. Both policies in these countries and a highly accommodating global financial environment have played a role. Not only have their traditional cross-border linkages been deepened and external balance sheets expanded rapidly, but also foreign presence in their domestic credit, bond, equity and property markets has reached unprecedented levels. (more…)

Research Paper 59, December 2014

Transition Period for TRIPS Implementation for LDCs: Implications for Local Production of Medicines in the East African Community

Article 66.1 of the WTO TRIPS Agreement grants the least developed countries (LDCs) a transition period during which they do not have to provide intellectual property rights protection according to the minimum requirements of the TRIPS Agreement. This transition period has been granted to LDCs to ensure that LDCs are not constrained by the existence of IP rights from taking suitable measures to develop a sound and viable technological base in different industrial sectors. (more…)

Research Paper 58, December 2014

Patent Examination and Legal Fictions: How Rights are Created on Feet of Clay

Patents are often presented as an absolute property, comparable to property over land. This simplification overlooks that patent rights are conferred without a solid determination of the factual conditions required for such rights to arise out. The examination process of patent applications faces substantial limitations, even in the case of large patent offices, to determine whether a claimed invention actually meets the patentability standards, however defined. (more…)

Research Paper 57, November 2014

Globalization, Export-Led Growth and Inequality: The East Asian Story

Over the last three decades, several East Asian economies have grown by leaps and bounds. The success of their export-led growth model is regarded, and copied, by many emerging economies as a sure path to achieve high-income status. But with impressive growth came worsening inequality both in personal income and functional income distribution. (more…)

Research Paper 56, November 2014

The African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) Protocol on Patents: Implications for Access to Medicines

This paper was commissioned to better understand the workings of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (commonly known as “ARIPO”) with regard to its Protocol on Patents and Industrial Designs and to examine the effect of implementation of the Protocol (Section on Patents) on the promotion of access to affordable medicines. (more…)

Research Paper 55, November 2014

Patent Protection for Plants: Legal Options for Developing Countries

The paper examines, first, the exclusion of patent protection for plants, including plant varieties, biological materials, and essentially biological processes for the production of plants. The legal implications of the right – recognized under the TRIPS Agreement – to exclude plants from patent protection are briefly discussed, as well as how the exclusion allowed by article 27.3(b) of said Agreement has been implemented at the national level and, particularly, whether it can be extended to parts and components of plants. (more…)

Research Paper 54, September 2014

Innovative Financing Mechanisms: Potential Sources of Financing the WHO Tobacco Convention

  1. Introduction and Objectives

This research paper is produced as part of a research being conducted by the South Centre on expanding fiscal policies for global and national tobacco control. The objective of this research is to identify innovative solutions to fill the funding gaps in the implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). (more…)

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