Membership of the Commission and the Schedule of Meetings
Willy Brandt regarded it as essential that the Commission was independent and that its members, no matter their background, should be invited to serve in a strictly private capacity. The Commission also wanted to ensure that the majority of its members were drawn from what were frequently described at the time as Third World (Southern) countries. The eighteen commissioners are listed in Table 1 and consisted primarily of former politicians and diplomats, including three former heads of government, Willy Brandt (federal chancellor of Germany 1969–74), Edward Heath (prime minister of the United Kingdom 1970–74), and Olof Palme (prime minister of Sweden 1969– 76). The commissioners were drawn from five continents and included members from Kuwait, Colombia, Upper Volta, Chile, Tanzania, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, Guyana, and Algeria, in addition to those from Germany, USA, UK, Canada, Sweden, and France (Table 1).
In the introduction to North–South, Willy Brandt provides an interesting assessment of his own credentials for the job of chairing the Commission, reporting quite candidly that ''(i)n all frankness, my own record did not necessarily qualify me for the job. But learning from one's own shortcomings sometimes helps in addressing one's fellow citizens''. As a young journalist, Brandt observes that he was aware of the problems of colonialism, the fight for independence, and the need to oppose dictatorship. Willy Brandt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971 for his role in the Ostpolitik policies that achieved detente between the Soviet Union and the nations of the NATO alliance. But in a revealing passage referring to the short termism and state based orientation of national political leadership, Willy Brandt notes that ''as a head of government, other priorities took up most of my time and kept me away from realizing the full importance of North–South issues. I certainly did not give enough attention to those of my colleagues who at that time advocated a reappraisal of our priorities''.
After the initial opening meeting held in Gymnich, Germany in December 1977 which included both open and closed sessions, four further meetings were held in 1978, followed by five in 1979, making ten formal meetings in all (Table 2). At the last two meetings held in October 1979 and December 1979, drafts of the report were edited. An editorial group advised by experts was set up under the leadership of Edward Heath and Shridath Ramphal and prepared a complete draft of the report for submission to the tenth meeting, where the final text and its recommendations were adopted. In addition to the formal meetings listed in Table 2, Annex 2 of North–South lists details of talks in India and Japan, African contacts, Arab and other Middle East contacts, the EEC and European capitals, Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, other North American contacts, other contacts in the Asian and Pacific region, discussions in China, contacts with heads of international and regional organizations, and other contacts in Latin America and the Caribbean.