Parliamentary Assembly

The Council of Europe’s North-South Centre and its contribution to development co-operation in the 21st century
Recommendation 1616 (2003)

Doc. 10189
26 May 2004

Reply from the Committee of Ministers
adopted at the 884th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies (19 May 2004)

1.         The Committee of Ministers has considered Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1616 (2003) and forwarded it for information to the Executive Council and the Committee of Representatives of member states of the North-South Centre. The Committee of Ministers welcomes this Recommendation as it has contributed to the development of a strategy to improve the functioning and the impact of the North-South Centre.

2.         The North-South Centre is entrusted with a vital mission, especially relevant in the aftermath of 11 September 2001 (“9/11”), of “fostering European awareness of development issues and of the root causes of world poverty, as well as the need for a genuine North-South dialogue on these issues”. The Committee of Ministers fully shares the view that the North-South Centre can make an essential contribution to promoting a better understanding of the growing interdependence of all nations and the need to achieve a fairer and more equitable sharing of the world’s resources.  In this respect, the Committee of Ministers welcomes the recent reorientation of the Centre’s main activities which focus on spreading the Council of Europe’s basic values of respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and on promoting intercultural and inter-religious understanding, as well as global education.

3.         The Committee of Ministers invites member states that have not done so to join the North-South Centre so as to increase its capacity to fulfil these tasks.

4.         In order to render the Centre’s objectives more operational, the Centre’s Executive Council had already decided, at its meeting on 23 November 2003, to limit its number of projects and to focus its work on the MediterraneanBasin and Africa.

5.         In this regard, the Committee of Ministers welcomes the new composition of the chairs of both the Executive Council and the Committee of representatives of members states, effective since March 2004, and expects this will also have positive effects in implementing the reforms contained in Recommendation 1616 (2003) of the Parliamentary Assembly and in the reports upon which it is based (documents 9879 and 9893). The Committee of Ministers has also taken note of the internal measures that the Secretary General intends to adopt with a view to increasing the effectiveness of the Centre, also based on Recommendation 1616 (2003).

6.         The Committee of Ministers considers the North-South Centre to be a key instrument of the Council of Europe in playing a leading role in the dialogue between the countries of the North and the South, notably in the adjacent regions of Europe.  In this spirit, it would also welcome the enlargement of the Centre with countries on the southern shore of the Mediterranean.

7.         Since 11 September 2001, the North-South Centre has further increased the attention it had already been paying to dialogue with the countries of the southern and eastern Mediterranean in the context of its TransMed programme. The increase is both qualitative (taking into consideration the new concerns raised by the “9/11” events) and quantitative (accounting for an enlargement of the Centre’s Trans-Mediterranean programme).

8.         The Committee of Ministers agrees with the Assembly’s recommendations on the functioning of the Centre and has invited the Executive Council and the member states of the Centre to examine them closely with a view to giving them an operational follow-up.