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.
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.
The Experience of Sri Lanka with International Investment Treaties
This policy brief gives an overview of Sri Lanka’s experience with investment treaties, including highlights from a study undertaken by the authors in regard to the interface between BITs and FDI inflows. The brief also reviews international trends in relation to re-negotiating BITs and discusses the elements driving these trends, offering insights into the factors shaping this discussion in developing countries. (more…)
Peruvian State’s Strategy for Addressing Investor State Disputes
This policy brief explains the approach adopted by Peru to establishment of the “System for the Coordination and Response of the State in International Investment Disputes” (SICRECI) and the role it played in responding to investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) cases faced by Peru. It gives an overview of the sixteen ISDS cases brought against Peru to date. While this institutional development adds value in terms of managing cases as they arise, the paper points out that this system faces major hurdles due to multiple challenges arising from ISDS. As shown in the paper, after the establishment of SICRECI, Peru continued to face a rising number of ISDS cases. (more…)
Corporations, Investment Decisions and Human Rights Regulatory Frameworks: Reflections on the discussion pertaining to FDI flows and the impact of a potential International Legally Binding Instrument on Business and Human Rights
This brief explores the question pertaining to the impact of States’ participation in designing an Instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises in the area of human rights on attracting foreign direct investment, which has been a persistent issue of discussion since the mandate of the inter-governmental group on the mentioned Instrument was established. (more…)
The Annual Forum of Developing Country Investment Negotiators
The South Centre joins the International Institute for Sustainable Development annually in co-organizing the forum for developing country investment negotiators. The forum is a unique space dedicated to discussing current trends and perspectives in regard to international investment agreements, with a focus on developing countries’ experiences and objectives. It is dedicated to sharing of experiences and lessons learned from different national and regional contexts. (more…)
Approaches to International Investment Protection: Divergent Approaches between the TPPA and Developing Countries’ Model Investment Treaties
While the international investment treaty regime is at a conjuncture, States face the challenge of designing reforms that would result in systemic solutions, and not merely cosmetic changes, to the challenges emerging out of the existing regime and the ISDS mechanism it embodies. (more…)
Investment Treaties: Views and Experiences from Developing Countries
About the book: This book discusses the relationship between foreign direct investment, investment agreements and economic development. It examines the experiences of five developing countries reviewing their approach to international investment agreements and seeking alternatives in this area, including South Africa, Indonesia, India, Argentina, and Ecuador. Through reviewing investor-state dispute settlement cases, the book highlights how investment protection rules and the way they have been interpreted by arbitral tribunals have undermined the states’ right to adopt measures to protect public health and challenged the use of policy tools essential for industrialization. The book also discusses options for rethinking investment-related dispute settlement, including the option to reform the arbitration rules that apply to the disputes, and poses the question “What should investment-related dispute settlement look like if we were to start anew?”.
The Rise of Investor-State Dispute Settlement in the Extractive Sectors: Challenges and Considerations for African Countries
African countries have been active in concluding international investment treaties. They are increasingly subject to investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) cases, including claims that challenge regulatory actions of host countries in a wide range of areas, including public services and race relations. At the same time, African States have developed the ‘Africa Mining Vision’, which is aimed at introducing policy (more…)
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…)
Ecuador’s Experience with International Investment Arbitration
The brief reviews Ecuador’s experience with investment treaties and investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS). The paper explains the historical and geopolitical context of the decisions Ecuador has taken in regard to bilateral investment treaties (BITs) and ISDS. The author notes that a number of treaties did not fulfill the constitutional and legal ratification processes. (more…)
International Investment Agreements and Africa’s Structural Transformation: A Perspective from South Africa
The brief describes the widening debate on the implications of international investment agreements (IIAs) for sustainable development. This debate is particularly relevant in Africa as the continent’s new economic development programme to effect structural transformation and achieve sustainable development may well be constrained by the terms and conditions imposed by IIAs. (more…)
India’s Experience with BITs: Highlights from Recent ISDS Cases
This brief argues that there is a case for a review of India’s bilateral investment treaties (BITs). The author recommends that the review should cover, inter alia, issues of more favourable treatment of foreigners compared to locals, and limitations on policy space of the government to address public interest concerns, in particular, those in the areas of public health and environment. (more…)
Crisis, Emergency Measures and the Failure of the ISDS System: The Case of Argentina
This brief gives an account of Argentina’s experience with investor-state dispute settlement in 2001-2014. Between 2002 and 2007, Argentina was the subject of a quarter of all the cases initiated within the framework of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) Convention. These cases were triggered by changes within the regulatory framework for international investments –particularly in sectors related to the provision of public services– as a result of the implementation of a package of measures aimed at tackling one of the worst economic crises in Argentina’s history. (more…)