In setting-up the European Centre for Global Interdependence and Solidarity (more commonly known as the "North-South Centre"), in November 1989, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe – and more specifically the Centre's ten founder States1 – took a visionary decision. At a time when the Berlin wall was falling down and all eyes in Strasbourg were turned to the east, retaining a global dimension and a southern perspective was inevitably a medium- and long-term concern.

In May 1990, the North-South Centre was set up in Lisbon2. From the start, it has built on what, until today, still constitutes its fundamentally pioneering dimension and development potential:

Almost 20 years after the break of the Berlin wall, Europe – and the world – have gone through profound changes. Indeed, a new paradigm - often called the “post-9/11” era - has gradually imposed itself in the field of international relations, leading to:

In this new area, the North-South Centre’s capacity of acting in different dimensions and mobilizing all relevant actors, together with its expertise in the fields of education, youth co-operation and intercultural dialogue, are strong added values. Having concentrated its action, in recent years, on two priority areas (Africa and the Mediterranean), and promoted synergies with the main actors involved, it also has a better chance to “make a difference”. The political processes implemented both within the Council of Europe (the “White Paper on intercultural dialogue”) and the European Union (the joint EU-Africa strategy and the “Union for the Mediterranean”) offer opportunities to be seized in this respect.


1 Cyprus, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, San Marino and Spain.

2 Lisbon was chosen following an initiative of the Portuguese government, which had proposed (after the European public campaign on North-South interdependence and solidarity organised in 1988 by the Council of Europe in co-operation with the European Community) that a centre be set up to follow up the proposals generated by the campaign, in the form of an enlarged partial agreement of the Council of Europe.

3 Subject to a favourable decision of the Committee of Ministers taken by the majority provided for in the Statute of the Council of Europe and unanimously by the member States of both the CoE and the NSC.

4 In anticipation of the European Community’s accession to the NSC (which has still not taken place), the European Commission is entitled to sit on the Centre's Executive Council and the European Parliament is entitled to appoint two representatives to it.

5 The North-South Centre places its work in particular in the framework of the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding signed in May 2007 between the Council of Europe and the European Union, and focuses on the Co-operation Agreements signed between the Council of Europe and key partners such as the OSCE, the Alliance of Civilisations, UNESCO, ALECSO, OIF and the Anna Lindh Foundation.