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.

Analytical Note, December 2015

WTO’s MC10: The Call for ‘New Issues’ at the WTO and Implications for Developing Countries

Narratives concerning enhancing the participation of developing countries in ‘Global Value Chains’ (GVCs) and supporting micro, small and medium enterprises have featured prominently in the WTO
and other international organizations. These have intensified in the run up towards the Ministerial Conference in Nairobi. These discourses on GVCs and MSMEs have often been linked to making the case to ‘reinvigorate the WTO’ and to address new trade-related issues. The scope of the term ‘new issues’ is not clear. It could include the remaining three Singapore Issues (i.e. investment, competition, and transparency in government procurement’) and also a non-exhaustive list of other issues.

Experts considering the challenges associated with discussing the Singapore issues at the WTO pointed out that these are ‘non-trade’ issues that do not belong to the WTO. If these issues are brought into the WTO, and WTO principles are applied to them, developing countries will be at a great disadvantage and would lose a great deal of their economic sovereignty, and their ability to make national policies of their own regarding economic, financial, social and political issues. The exercise undertaken in the dedicated working groups (between 1997 and 2003) showed that there are very wide gaps in the approaches among WTO Members on these issues, in addition to disagreement and lack of clarity in regard to the substance, implications and rationale of prospective multilateral rules in these areas.

This note provides a brief on the challenges associated with discussing investment, competition, transparency in government procurement, and an expanded mandate on e-commerce at the WTO.

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