The North-South Centre has a membership of 20 countries: Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the Vatican. Its creation is a result of a process initiated in 1984 during a conference organized by the Portuguese parliament, ending with the Lisbon Declaration, which included a blueprint for a campaign of North-South interdependence and solidarity. The next crucial step was taken during a conference of parliamentarians in Madrid in June 1988, which initiated dynamic dialogue between representatives of various regions of the world in a spirit of respect for democracy and human dignity. Governments and nongovernmental organizations joined the dialogue. The Portuguese government then suggested the creation of the North-South Centre, and the organization began its activity in Lisbon in 1990.
The North-South Centre gears its activities toward youth. Africa and countries of the Mediterranean basin are priority regions for the organization's programs. Its methods are based on a three-part motto: dialogue, partnership, solidarity. Governments and national parliaments, local and regional leadership, and nongovernmental organizations are invited to cooperate.