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.

Mwalimu Julius K. NYERERE (Chairman, 1995-1999)

Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere, United Republic of Tanzania, is the former President of the United Republic of Tanzania (1964-1985) and the first Chairman of the South Centre.

He was known as Mwalimu, the Swahili word for « teacher » in reference to his profession prior to politics.

Mwalimu was born in Butiama Village near Lake Victoria and walked 26 miles to begin primary school in Musoma at the age of 12. He obtained his secondary education at the Tabora Government Secondary School and was offered a scholarship to study at Makerere University in Uganda where he obtained a Teacher’s Diploma. He also obtained a Master of Arts degree from the University of Edinburgh in 1952. He taught at Tanzanian schools before he was forced by the colonial authorities to either continue teaching or give up his political activities.

He was the founder member and first (and only, as he was constantly re-elected) President of the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU). As President of TANU, he campaigned throughout the country for independence from colonial rule. He spoke on behalf of TANU to the Trusteeship Council and Fourth Committee of the United Nations in New York in 1954.

Mwalimu was elected in 1958 as a Member of the Legislative Assembly in the first elections in which Africans had a vote. He subsequently became the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament. In 1960, he became the Chief Minister of the first Internal Government Administration of Independent Tanganyika. He was Prime Minister of the first Government of Independent Tanganyika in 1961 and was elected Tanganyika’s first President when it became a Republic in 1962. He became President of the United Republic of Tanzania when Tanganyika and Zanzibar were united in 1964. Mwalimu was the founder member and Chairman of Chama Cha Mapinduzi, which was formed by a merger of TANU and the Afro-Shiraz Party of Zanzibar, from 1977-1989.

From 1987 to 1990, he served as the Chairman of the South Commission, a commission of independent high-level experts from the South set up by developing countries to review the South’s development experience and make recommendations on the development strategy for developing countries in the post-Cold War arena. He then became the first Chairman of the Board of the South Centre, the intergovernmental policy research organization of developing countries which succeeded the South Commission

Mwalimu held numerous honorary degrees from: Edinburgh (UK), Duquesne (USA), Cairo (Egypt), Nsukka (Nigeria), Ibadan (Nigeria), Monrovia (Liberia), Toronto (Canada), Howard (USA), Jawaharlal Nehru (India), Havana (Cuba), Lesotho, the Philippines, and Fort Hare University (South Africa). He was Chancellor of the University of East Africa (1963-1970), Chancellor of University of Dar-es-Salaam (1970-1985) and Chancellor of Sokoine University of Agriculture (1984). He was also the recipient of numerous awards including the Nehru Award for International Understanding, the Third World Prize, Nansen Medal for Outstanding Service to Refugees and the Lenin Peace Prize.

His publications include Freedom and Unity (1966), Freedom and Socialism (1968), Freedom and Development (1973), Ujamaa (1968), Julius Kaisari- a translation of Julius Caesar into KiSwahili and Mabepari wa Venisi (a translation of Merchant of Venice into KiSwahili).

He passed away on 14 October 1999.

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