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 Paper 70, August 2016

Innovation and the Global Expansion of Intellectual Property Rights: Unfulfilled Promises

The incorporation of intellectual property into trade agreements has not proven to bring about the promised benefits. The premises that have underpinned the global strengthening and expansion of intellectual property through such agreements – namely that the same standards of protection are suitable for countries with different levels of development and that innovation will be boosted – do not match the reality.

The effects of high standards of protection – as those mandated under the TRIPS Agreement and further extended under FTAs – have been critically examined in the developed countries themselves: “[i]ntellectual property is …a social contrivance purportedly designed to increase welfare, by supposedly enhancing innovation (though… it may actually have exactly the opposite effect)”. If intellectual property does not work in developed countries as generally described by their proponents, the situation can only be worse in developing countries with weak science and technological infrastructures, scarcity of risk capital and unsophisticated production profiles. These countries are currently paying the price of a system which primarily serves as a platform to extract rents (in the form of royalty payments and high prices) and which does little to promote local innovation and economic development.

The scenario for innovation in the pharmaceutical sector clearly illustrates that the conception underpinning the TRIPS Agreement was flawed from a global perspective. The rate of innovation has not increased, rather, it has declined and while developing countries struggle with high prices for medicines, R&D necessary to address their particular health needs continues to be marginalized.

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