The European Centre for Global Interdependence and Solidarity or North-South Centre was set up in Lisbon in May 1990. The Centre acts as an interface between both sides of the Mediterranean, offering a platform for structured co-operation with the participation of governments, parliaments, regional and local authorities and civil society. The new statutory resolution adopted in May 2011 confirmed the Centre's priorities, which are global education, youth and intercultural dialogue. The Centre’s role is to represent "a voice of the South" within the Council of Europe and to advocate, beyond the European continent, the universality of values of democracy, human rights, dialogue, cooperation and solidarity. To date, 22 States have joined the Centre as members, including two non - European States (Morocco and Cape Verde).
The North-South Centre’s status in the Council of Europe, an intergovernmental organisation, is unique: it is run on the basis of a "quadrilogue", a term coined to mean the combination of four partners from political institutions and civil society - governments, parliaments, local and regional authorities and NGOs. This system helps build bridges between players with different approaches, viewpoints and priorities, generating constructive synergies.
The work carried out by the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe in the field of migration is integrated in the working agenda of the Council of Europe and is structured around the following priority areas:
- improvement of intercommunity relations through the promotion of intercultural dialogue and the integration of migrants;
- promotion a management of migratory flows through the development of a north-south dialogue between the countries of origin, transit and destination;
- reinforcement of the rights of migrants.
The North-South Centre has been promoting the Euro-Mediterranean dialogue for the past 15 years. During the course of this time, it has amassed a significant amount of expertise with regard to North-South relations, in particular with relation to migration. The North-South Centre is an important implementing actor of the current Council of Europe neighborhood policy, including by migratory policy reforms in Europe. At a time when xenophobic and anti-migrant right-wing parties are surging all over the European political spectrum, the North-South Centre is dedicated to dispelling widespread “migration myths” through actions that benefit actors from both the North and the South. Its priorities are centered around Intercultural Dialogue and Global Citizenship Education and are directed at both European and African Societies.
The aim of the North-South Centre’s intercultural dialogue programme is to use dialogue to contribute to the development of awareness, mutual understanding and working ties between the different players in European and southern Mediterranean societies. The design and implementation of the NSC’s activities in this field are directly inspired by the conclusions and recommendations of the Council of Europe’s White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue, “Living together as equal in dignity”. However, Intercultural Dialogue is not only practiced at a transnational level. Intercultural Dialogue is also an essential tool for European multicultural societies, which have long been traditional migrant hubs. Historically, Europe has been a safe haven for migrants in search of peace and prosperity. Today, more than two-thirds of European states have positive migration rates. The challenges that lie ahead (climate change, water scarcity, food security) will further generate migratory movements. This is why our Intercultural Dialogue program is also active at a local level, tackling problems related to migrants’ adaptation and integration within Europe itself. By focusing strongly on women and youth issues, the Centre addresses key issues that have an effect on the most vulnerable of all migrants. At a time where Europe’s political tendencies seem to shift towards more a restrictive (and even xenophobic) policy paradigm, our Intercultural Dialogue programme stresses the importance of understanding and cooperation in today’s multicultural and ever more complex societies.
Global Citizenship Education
The North-South Centre is fully active in promoting the idea of Global Citizenship through the promotion and encouragement of global education practices and through the shared learning of global education fundamentals. Global Education is understood as a holistic education dealing with the growing interconnectedness between local and global realities. It aims at developing learning communities in which practitioners are encouraged to work cooperatively and develop skills for a participatory global citizenship. By way of our Joint Management Agreement on Global Education and Africa-Europe Youth Cooperation, as well as through our various Seed Funding initiatives (The Role of African Diaspora Youth in Switzerland, Building Africa-Europe Bridges of Cooperation, University on Youth and Development in Mollina, etc.), the North-South Centre seeks to foster intercultural cooperation between young people from the North and the South at a time where migrations are bound to change the social and cultural make up of our own communities. In today’s world the main challenge for Education is to give pedagogical answers to this growing global interconnectedness and propose learning processes relevant to contemporary societal changes and its increasing complexity: intercultural learning is one of them, intercultural competences being one of the dimensions of global education. The North-South Centre hopes to show policymakers, in both the North and the South, that Global Citizenship Education can contribute in turning the “migration problem” into a “migration solution”. Furthermore, the Centre will coordinate the "Migrations: Solidarity in Crisis?" session at the Strasbourg World Forum for Democracy in October 2012.