Observance of the International Day: Notes for Organizers

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   This document has been made available in electronic format
      by the International Co-operative Alliance ICA
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         UNITED NATIONS INTERNATIONAL DAY OF COOPERATIVES

                          1 JULY 1995

                       Notes for organizers


                   Purposes of the observance

Three distinct but related purposes of the observance of the
International Day of Cooperatives can be identified:

(a) to mark the centenary of the establishment of the
International Co-operative Alliance;

(b) to increase awareness of the complementarity of the
goals of the United Nations and of the international cooperative
movement and of the actual and potential contributions of that
movement to the resolution of the major problems currently
addressed by the United Nations;

(c) to strengthen and extend the partnership between the
international cooperative movement and other actors, including
Governments, within the context of a "social partnership for
sustainable development" at local, national and international
levels.

I.        CENTENARY OF THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE
            INTERNATIONAL COOPERATIVE ALLIANCE

The International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) was established in
London, United Kingdom, in 1895. It was among the first of the
non-governmental organizations to be granted Category I
consultative status with the Economic and Social Council, the
General Assembly deciding upon this at its first session, early
in 1946. It has the largest individual membership of any of the
non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the
Council: as of April 1995 this was 760,000,000 women and men in
almost all States Members of the United Nations. With their
immediate families, affected closely by such membership, this
association reaches a total of over three billion persons - more
than half of the world's population.

Moreover, this three-quarters of a billion membership is part of
a coherent and democratically organized structure of global
dimensions which combines high levels of local subsidiarity with
world-wide solidarity and common purpose.

Individuals direct and manage the cooperative business
enterprises of which they are members and owners by means of
democratic procedures. The enterprises themselves are members of
sectoral, regional and national federations and alliances whose
affairs are also managed democratically. The ICA itself is
constituted largely by such national federations, which decide
upon its policies and practices. Hence, the ICA is not only the
largest in terms of membership, but one of the most significant
in terms of its democratic structure, among the member-based
representative non-governmental organizations associated with the
United Nations.

In this regard it is important to bear in mind that cooperatives
are business enterprises within the formal market, and that their
representative organizations are in fact associations of
businesses, many of which are of small or medium size, but many
others are large corporations which lead in terms of turnover or
employment in their respective sectors. For example, in the
United States in 1994 the largest one hundred cooperatives
together contributed US $ 87.2 billion to the national economy
and employed over 750,000 persons. The Fortune 500 list of major
corporations included 14 cooperative enterprises. In all
cooperatives generated more than $ US 100 billion in economic
activity and had over 100 million members - 40 per cent of the
population.

This special character of cooperative business enterprises and
of their representative organizations has been recognized by the
Economic and Social Council, which called for cooperation between
the United Nations system and the ICA in its resolutions 1413
(XLVI) of 6 June 1969, 1491 (XLVIII) of 26 May 1970 and 1668
(LII) of 1 June 1972. The latter resolution has been recalled in
the preambular paragraphs of most subsequent Council and General
Assembly resolutions.

The ICA also has special status with the International Labour
Organisation, paragraph 3 of article 12 of whose Constitution
states: "The International Labour Organisation may make suitable
arrangements for such consultation as it may think desirable with
recognized non-governmental international organizations,
including international organizations of employers, workers,
agriculturists and cooperators."

Since 1972 ICA has worked closely with the United Nations, as
well as with the International Labour Organisation and the Food
and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, in the
Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives
(COPAC), as well as by means of many types of direct
collaboration.

It was in recognition of the special character of the ICA and of
the closeness of its collaboration with the United Nations that
the General Assembly, in its resolution 47/90, proclaimed the
first Saturday of July 1995 to be International Day of
Cooperatives "marking the centenary of the establishment of the
International Co-operative Alliance". In its resolution 49/155
the General Assembly invited Governments, relevant international
organizations and specialized agencies, as well as national and
international cooperative organizations, to observe annually the
International Day of Cooperatives on the first Saturday of July
starting from 1995.

The ICA will celebrate its first hundred years of existence by
holding a Centennial Congress in Manchester, United Kingdom, in
September 1995, one year after the world-wide celebration of the
150th anniversary of the foundation of the modern cooperative
movement in nearby Rochdale, where 28 individuals set up the
first consumer cooperative in 1844.


II.           COMPLEMENTARITY OF THE GOALS OF THE
   INTERNATIONAL COOPERATIVE ALLIANCE AND THE UNITED NATIONS
  AND ACTUAL AND POTENTIAL CONTRIBUTION OF THE INTERNATIONAL
   COOPERATIVE MOVEMENT TO SOLUTION OF THE MAJOR PROBLEMS
          CURRENTLY ADDRESSED BY THE UNITED NATIONS

Individual women and men establish their own cooperatively
organized business enterprises, or join cooperatives already in
operation, in order that they can deal more effectively with the
economic situation which confronts them, increase their ability
to operate within the market economy and within contemporary
society, and obtain benefits of an economic, but also of a social
and political nature, which they perceive would be more difficult
to enjoy by any other means of economic organization.

By means of membership in purchasing and supply cooperative,
business enterprises, individuals, and independent enterprises
in all sectors, are able to secure supplies of affordable,
appropriate and high quality inputs, either for use in their
enterprises, or for household consumption. Individuals and
enterprises are able to secure better returns from the
market by organizing marketing cooperatives. By means of
organizing production cooperatives in all sectors, groups of
individuals are able to ensure that the returns on their labour
are maximized and employment itself made more secure. Specialized
cooperative enterprises provide their members with security in
the deposit of their savings, in the management of their
finances, in the provision of credit; they provide their
member-owners - who are also their users, clients or customers
- with utilities, infrastructure, housing, social services, and
health care.

By these means, as the Secretary-General of the United Nations
acknowledged in the conclusion of his latest report to the
General Assembly on the status and role of cooperatives in the
light of new economic and social trends (A/49/213 of 1 July
1994):

"Cooperative enterprises provide the organizational means whereby
a significant proportion of humanity is able to take into its own
hands the tasks of creating productive employment, overcoming
poverty and achieving social integration. ...";

"Cooperatives contribute substantially to the common good in
market economies, principally by improving the efficiency and
quality of the economy, but also by assuring democratization and
environmental rationality. They constitute a model for a
people-centred and sustainable form of societal organization,
based on equity, justice and subsidiarity" (para. 72).

In its latest resolution on cooperatives, 49/155, the General
Assembly recognized that "cooperatives in their various forms are
becoming an indispensable factor in the economic and social
development of all countries, promoting the fullest possible
participation in the development process of all population
groups, including women, youth, disabled persons and the
elderly".

The General Assembly, in this same resolution, also recognized
the "important contribution and potential of all forms of
cooperatives to the preparations for and follow-up to the World
Summit for Social Development and the Fourth World Conference on
Women: Action for Equality, Development and Peace, to be held in
1995 and the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements
(Habitat II) to be held in 1996."

In fact individual citizens, using the cooperative business
enterprises of which they are the member-owners, and
collaborating together within nation-wide cooperative movements,
are working toward the same goals as have been identified by
Member States of the United Nations. Through their representative
cooperative organizations they are collaborating actively with
the United Nations in carrying out many of its current programmes
and in implementing many of its recent strategic decisions.

In respect to achievement of certain other goals of the United
Nations, the international cooperative movement already is active
and contributes significantly, but close strategic planning or
operational collaboration has not yet been established, although
the potential for the contribution of the international
cooperative alliance to the solution of problems currently
addressed by the United Nations is clearly very large.

These many different areas of actual and potential close
collaboration are identified and briefly described in the Annex:
additional information will be set out in a series of background
information notes being prepared jointly by the International
Co-operative Alliance and the United Nations Department for
Policy Coordination.


III.           STRENGTHENING AND EXTENDING THE PARTNERSHIP
           BETWEEN THE INTERNATIONAL COOPERATIVE MOVEMENT
         AND OTHER ACTORS, INCLUDING GOVERNMENTS, AT LOCAL, 
                NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL LEVELS

Individual cooperative business enterprises, business groups of
cooperatives and cooperative organizations representing
cooperatives in certain sectors or regions, or comprehensively
at national levels, as well as international cooperative
organizations operating at regional and global levels, all have
the capacity for entering into productive partnerships with other
groups of actors in society for the purpose of resolving problems
faced by humanity. Other actors include Governments, other -
non-cooperatively organized - segments of the market and elements
of civil society.

A brief review of the possible areas of partnership is provided
below: further information will be included in the series of
background notes under joint preparation by the International
Co-operative Alliance and the United Nations Department for
Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development as part of the
information diffusion segment of observance of the International
Day of Cooperatives.

A. At the local level

One of the principles which are applied as general guidelines for
cooperative business enterprises throughout the world is that of
community: cooperatives are concerned about the communities in
which they exist. While focusing on member needs, they strive for
the sustainable development of those communities through policies
that are respectful of the environment and acceptable to the
membership.

Because they are "schools for democracy", and because of their
concern for the communities in which they operate, cooperatives
are, as the Secretary-General concluded in his latest report to
the General Assembly on the status and role of cooperatives in
the light of new economic and social trends (A/49/213), "... a
model for a people-centred and sustainable form of societal
organization, based on equity, justice and subsidiarity." Members
of cooperatives participate as informed and committed citizens,
in the affairs of their local communities, and in those of local
authorities.

Where the proportion of cooperative members within local
populations achieves relatively high levels, as is the case in
many regions of both developed and developing market economies,
the influence of cooperatives is naturally substantial. In many
communities, particularly in rural areas, but also in inner
cities, cooperatives are the predominant organizational
form within the local economy.

It is on this basis that either individual cooperators as a
group, or cooperative enterprises, or organizations of the local
cooperative movement constitute an important actor, capable of
forming with others a "social partnership", and one specifically
for the purpose of achieving a sustainable development. 

This partnership may remain informal, or may assume formal status
only through the close relationships between the cooperative
movement and other movements, such as political parties, citizens
associations, trade unions, farmers' organizations, women's
organizations, consumers' and environmental organizations
etcetera.

In some cases individual cooperative enterprises, particularly
housing, community development, health and social service
cooperatives, have entered into contractual agreements with local
government authorities whereby they take over responsibilities
for certain public services. In some areas - for example in
Sweden - the full range of public services within certain parts
of local authority areas have been taken over by community
development cooperatives.

B. At the regional level

In some countries where administrative structures include levels
of government and administration intermediate between local and
national, notably where a federal structure exists, regional
cooperative movements, groups and federations have established
partnerships with regional governments for purposes of general
development or certain aspects of societal management. In Canada,
for example, provincial ministers have met in recent years to
discuss the cooperative presence in local and regional community
development. In Quebec the Mouvement des caisses Desjardins, a
savings and credit cooperative group which occupies first place
among financial institutions in the province, and fifth place
among those in Canada, has entered into various forms of
partnership with local governments throughout the province in
order to stimulate local development through entrepreneurial
expansion and job creation.

C. At the national level

In many developing countries until recently Governments
maintained a very close relationship with national cooperative
movements. In some cases this resulted in significant reduction
in the autonomy which is essential to the viable existence of
individual cooperative enterprises and the movements which they
establish. The undesirable and ultimately self-defeating
consequences of such close relationships are now full recognised.
The principles which guide cooperative activities throughout the
world state that cooperatives are autonomous, mutual-help
organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into
agreements with governments and other organizations, they do so
freely, on mutually-acceptable terms that ensure their autonomy.
In the conclusions to his report to the General Assembly on the
status and role of cooperatives in the light of new economic and
social conditions (A/49/213) the Secretary-General observed that:

"Because cooperatives are business enterprises and formal
components of the market, and because the cooperative movement
is self-reliant, self-managed and largely self- financed,
cooperatives function best when Governments refrain from
intervention other than registration, regulation and enforcement
of the law that exists in respect to any type of business or
association of citizens." (para.72(d)).

While acknowledging these principles many Governments
nevertheless consider it valuable to maintain close relationships
with national cooperative movements, both those representing the
generality of cooperatives, and those representing cooperatives
within a certain sector.

Particularly where rural economies are to a significant degree
organized in cooperative forms, those departments of national
government concerned with agriculture, the environment and trade
have special relationships with the relevant cooperative
organizations. This is often based upon governmental
acknowledgement of the vital importance of cooperatives for the
achievement of governmental goals and those of citizens in the
relevant regions. For example, the United States Department of
Agriculture, in a 1987 report commissioned by the Senate
Agricultural Appropriations Subcommittee, stated that
"cooperatives remain the single most effective way farmers can
improve their economic circumstances. In cooperatives farmers are
dealing collectively with their problems and seeking solutions
through organizations they create, own, control and operate on
their own behalf. This is the fundamental meaning of cooperation
and the essence of the American economic spirit."

Elsewhere, Governments have entered into agreements with
representative organizations of national cooperative movements
for the purpose of, for example, promoting entrepreneurial
development and job creation; rural entrepreneurial development;
and alleviation of poverty in inner cities. 

Governments in developed market economies have developed
important partnerships with national cooperative movements, and
specifically their specialized cooperative development
organizations, in order to improve the effectiveness of their
technical assistance programmes.

The special quality of cooperatives and the significance of their
contribution to national society is recognised in many countries
by specific mention within the national constitutions.

D. At the international level

At the regional level, regional cooperative organizations,
including the regional offices of the ICA, have developed formal
relations with both groups of national Governments - for example,
by means of the series of Cooperative Ministerial Conferences
organized by ICA regional offices in Africa and in Asia and the
Pacific. ICA regional offices and other regional cooperative
organizations have close working relations with regional
intergovernmental organizations, particularly in the European
Union. In some cases sectoral cooperative organizations are
granted formal responsibility for working with other major actors
in the development of regional policies. For example, the
European Community of Consumer Cooperatives (EUROCOOP) was given
formal responsibility for drafting the directives of the European
Union on foodstuffs, and by lobbying succeeded in having a
consumer protection section included within the Treaty of the
European Union.

Representatives of the ICA, or its regional offices, or its
specialized bodies, regularly participate in the deliberations
of the United Nations regional commissions, regional meetings of
United Nations specialized agencies, and in meetings of other
intergovernmental organizations.

At the global level, the ICA collaborates closely and formally
with the United Nations and with certain of its specialized
agencies by means of many direct procedures and also within the
Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives
(COPAC). This is unique within the United Nations system in that
it combines an inter-agency component with a formal interface
between the United Nations system and global representative
organizations.

In recent years the previous working relationship has begun to
be transformed into a close partnership, involving joint
activities and participation by ICA in the global policy making
activities of the United Nations.


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                           Annex

      Principal areas of actual or potential collaboration
       between the international cooperative movement and
                     the United Nations


1. Eradication, alleviation and avoidance of poverty

The contribution of cooperative business enterprises and the
international cooperative movement as a whole to the eradication,
alleviation or avoidance of poverty has been recognized by the
Secretary-General in his reports to the General Assembly, by the
General Assembly in its resolution 49/155 and by the World Summit
for Social Development in its Copenhagen Programme of Action.

Both the Copenhagen Declaration and the Copenhagen Programme of
Action agreed upon at the World Summit for Social Development
held at Copenhagen, Denmark, in March 1995 acknowledged that
cooperatives provided an important means whereby poverty might
be alleviated or eradicated, as well as productive employment
created and maintained and social integration achieved. The ICA,
in close collaboration with the United Nations Department for
Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development, participated
actively in the preparations for the World Summit and in the
World Summit itself, and has committed itself to collaborate with
the United Nations in the fulfilment of the commitments made at
the World Summit.

ICA will also collaborate closely with the United Nations in the
observance of the International Year for the Eradication of
Poverty, 1996. It has participated also in the examination of the
issue of poverty by UNCTAD.

2. Productive employment

The Copenhagen Declaration and the Copenhagen Programme of Action
acknowledged the important role of cooperatives in both the
creation as well as the maintenance of productive employment.
Cooperative business enterprises contribute both directly by
means of self-employment as member-workers or of employment as
non-members, but also indirectly through contributing to
successful entrepreneurship and by means of numerous multiplier
effects resulting from their business activities, particularly
in rural regions, old industrial regions and inner cities.

3. Sustainable development

In his penultimate report to the General Assembly on the status
and role of cooperatives in the light of new economic and social
trends (A/47/216-E/1992/43 of 28 May 1992) the Secretary-General
concluded that "most categories of cooperatives, but particularly
agricultural and consumer cooperatives, are able to make
significant contributions, and often more effectively than other
types of enterprise given their member controlled character, to
ecologically rational and sustainable development".

ICA had participated previously in the United Nations Conference
on Environment and Development, contributing as one part of the
major group "Business and industry" to formulation of Agenda 21
(Report of the United Nations Conference on Environment and
Development, (A/CONF.151/26/Rev.1 (Vol.I and Vol.I/Corr.1,
Vol.II, Vol.III and Vol.III/Corr.1)). Jointly with the United
Nations Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable
Development, ICA presented to the Commission for Sustainable
Development at its Third Session in April 1995 a comprehensive
review of the contribution of the international cooperative
movement to the implementation of Agenda 21. ICA is itself
formulating its own "Cooperative Agenda 21" for adoption at its
Centennial Congress in September 1995.

Rural production and supply and marketing cooperatives have a
significant role in the economies of many countries, and
particularly in African least developed countries, suffering from
desertification. Consequently, the international cooperative
movement has a close interest in realization of the objectives
of the International Convention to Combat Desertification in
those countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or
Desertification, particularly in Africa adopted in June 1994 by
an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee. In its resolution
49/234 the General Assembly requested relevant non-governmental
organizations to take action for the prompt implementation of the
Convention. In its resolution 49/115 the General Assembly invited
non-governmental organizations to promote observance of the World
Day to combat Desertification and Drought, to fall on 17 June
each year, beginning in 1995. It may be expected that the
international cooperative movement will assist in the diffusion
of information and in the observance of the day.

4. Viability and sustainability of the agricultural sector and
food security  In most developed market economies and
increasingly in developing market economies agricultural
producers have joined together to establish purchasing, supply
and marketing cooperatives, supported by utilities,
infrastructure and financial cooperative enterprises. These now
play a key role in the maintenance of viable and sustainable
rural economies and societies and in assuring food security for
both rural and urban populations. For example, in 1993 in the
countries of the then European Union together with Austria,
Finland and Sweden such cooperatives accounted for 55 per cent
of agricultural inputs and 60 per cent of agricultural outputs.
Many supply cooperatives have extended their operations to the
manufacture of inputs, while many marketing cooperatives have
extended theirs to processing and manufacture of outputs, and to
wholesale and retail distribution, thereby establishing a direct
and significant place in the mechanisms which assure food
security.

Through its specialized body, the International Co-operative
Agricultural Organization and in collaboration with such regional
cooperative organizations as the General Committee for
Agricultural Cooperation in the EU (COGECA) and the Standing
Committee on Agricultural Cooperatives of the International
Federation of Agricultural Cooperatives, ICA works closely with
the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, the
International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World
Food Programme, both directly and through the Committee for the
Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives (COPAC).

For this reason the international cooperative movement has a
substantial potential for contributing to the work of the United
Nations system in respect to a viable agricultural sector, a
healthy rural society and improved food security. In particular,
it is a partner, as part of the major group "business and
industry", in the implementation of the relevant sections of
Agenda 21, as well as of the various, strategies, declarations
and programmes of action focused on the least developed and other
food importing developing countries.

5. Sustainable use of forest resources

 In many countries the greater proportion of forestry enterprises
are member-owners of their own supply and marketing cooperatives
- and in some almost all forest production is marketed through
such cooperatives: this is the case, for example in Sweden,
Norway and Japan. Cooperatives in developing countries are active
in combating deforestation, re-afforestation and the sustainable
management of forest resources, as well as in the recycling of
forest products. Forest resource cooperatives are significant in
the fragile ecosystems of mountain regions and in the economies
of indigenous peoples. The ICA, and the cooperative movements in
a considerable number of countries, have therefore much to
contribute to sustainable forest resource development in the
context of the Forest Principles negotiated at the United Nations
Conference on Environment and Development.

6. Sustainable use of fisheries resources

In a number of countries the greater part of the fisheries sector
is cooperatively organized: that is, individual owners of fishing
vessels, or small- and medium-sized fisheries enterprises, are
the owners and members of cooperative purchasing, supply,
processing and marketing enterprises. In Japan almost all
fisheries products are marketed through cooperatives, while in
Canada, Iceland, Norway and Spain such cooperatives are similarly
significant. Consequently, these cooperative movements, and the
ICA through its specialized body, the International Co-operative
Fisheries Organisation, have a substantial interest in
implementation of chapter 17 of Agenda 21 concerning the
sustainable development and conservation of the marine living
resources of areas under national jurisdiction, as well as of the
Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small
Island Developing States adopted by the Global Conference on this
issue held in Barbados in April-May 1994. It may be expected that
these components of the cooperative movement will contribute to
implementation of the outcome of the United Nations Conference
on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks as
well as to the observance of the United Nations International
Year of the Ocean in 1998.

7. Natural and societal disaster prevention and response

The international cooperative movement and individual cooperative
enterprises have always expressed solidarity for other
cooperators and their communities in times of conflict and
disaster. Cooperative enterprises have been a valuable
organizational means for the alleviation of the effects of
natural and man-made disaster. In these ways cooperative movement
actively contributes to the United Nations concern with peace and
security. It is a valued collaborator in United Nations
humanitarian and disaster relief assistance. Individual
cooperative enterprises, national cooperative movements and the
ICA complement the work of the United Nations in translating into
concrete disaster reduction programmes and activities the Plan
of Action of the Yokohama Strategy for a Safer World: Guidelines
for Natural Disaster Prevention, Preparedness and Mitigation
adopted in May 1994 by the World Conference on Natural Disaster
Reduction, and its work of implementing the International
Framework of Action for the International Decade for Natural
Disaster Reduction.

8. Population and development

Through their contributions to the eradication of poverty, to
food security, to the advancement of women and children to
acceptable material conditions and status, to health and an
acceptable quality of life and to the enjoyment of human rights
cooperatives make indirect but nonetheless major contributions
to the achievement of the objectives of the International
Conference on Population and Development held at Cairo in
September 1994 and to the implementation of the Programme of
Action agreed upon there.

By their key contributions to a viable rural economy and society,
and hence to a balanced regional development, cooperative
enterprises make a significant contribution to the reduction of
population movements to major urban centres, within and beyond
national frontiers, thereby helping to achieve other of the
objectives of the International Conference. Consequently, the
international cooperative movement has a significant potential
for contributing to the deliberations at the proposed United
Nations Conference on International Migration and Development,
the convening of which will be discussed by the General Assembly
at its fiftieth session.

At the same time, by providing a means for entrepreneurial
development, employment, and satisfaction of needs for
commodities and services, cooperative enterprises also reduce the
tensions and costs incurred when societies adjust to the
unavoidable consequences of current demographic conditions.

9. Human settlements

In its resolution 49/155 the General Assembly recognized the
important contribution and potential of all forms of cooperatives
to the preparations for the United Nations Conference on Human
Settlements (Habitat II) and invited the Conference, in
formulating strategies and actions, to give due consideration to
the role and contribution of cooperatives. Jointly with the
United Nations Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable
Development ICA is preparing its submission to the Secretariat
of the Conference as one of the "Commitments" of the private
business sector to be included in the draft Global Plan of Action
which will be examined by the Conference in June 1996.

Cooperative enterprises in many countries have been established
in order to provide members with affordable and appropriate
housing, utilities, services and infrastructure. They are
responsible for significant proportions of wholesale and retail
distribution, as well as financial services for entrepreneurs and
households in both rural and urban settlements. In an increasing
number of settlements multi-functional community development
cooperatives meet the needs of neighbourhoods and communities:
in some cases taking over responsibility from local government
authorities.

10. Consumer protection and changing consumption patterns

Consumer-owned cooperatives, which contribute significant
proportions of the retail and service sectors in many developed
market economies as well as in the transitional economies, have
been in the forefront of movements for consumer protection, and
have been engaged actively in the implementation of the United
Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection. They have played a
leading role in bringing about changes in consumption patterns
as called for in Agenda 21.

11. Industrial development

In an increasing number of countries, significant shares of the
processing and manufacturing of inputs to agriculture, fisheries
and forestry, as well as of the outputs of the primary sector,
are contributed by cooperative enterprises and their
subsidiaries. Small-scale manufacturing and processing
cooperatives exist widely, and in some countries, including some
developed market economies, industrial cooperative groups are
among the leaders in certain areas of production. In some
countries cooperative enterprises contribute significant shares
of the manufacture of building materials, construction materials,
particularly for housing, and electricity generation. The
capacity of cooperative enterprises to take over industrial
enterprises from the state and parastatal sectors, particularly
in transitional economies and in developing market economies
undergoing substantial structural adjustment, has grown
significantly in recent years.

Consequently, cooperative movements in the affected countries may
be able to collaborate closely in United Nations efforts to
promote industrialization, particularly in least developed
countries and notably in Africa. Thus the movement has the
potential for acting as a major partner with the United Nations
in achievement of the goals of the Second Industrial Development
Decade for Africa (1993-2002).

12. Human rights

Cooperative enterprises constitute a micro-societal environment
in which members are able to enjoy their full human rights: they
are defined by the ICA itself as associations of persons united
voluntarily to meet their common economic and social needs
through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.
Cooperatives are based on the values of self-help, mutual
responsibility, equality and equity. Within their capacity to
admit members, cooperatives are open on a voluntary basis,
without political, religious, gender or social discrimination,
to all who can contribute to, and benefit from, their activities.
In primary cooperatives, members enjoy equal voting rights on a
one member, one vote basis.

Many cooperative business enterprises, concerned with the
communities in which they operate and in which their members
live, take an interest in the quality of society and in the
enjoyment of human rights by all in those communities. Certain
cooperative enterprises, notably cooperative banks and savings
and credit cooperatives, have adopted "ethical stances" and
business guidelines which stress non-association with individuals
or businesses engaged even indirectly in the suppression of human
rights. Housing cooperatives and community development
cooperatives, in particular, actively encourage the enjoyment of
the human rights of members and others in the communities in
which they exist. Locally, nationally and internationally, often
in collaboration with other citizen's organizations, cooperative
movements seek to promote and protect human rights and show
solidarity for those whose rights are limited or suppressed.

By these direct means, and also by means of empowering the
economically disadvantaged, the international cooperative
movement contributes significantly to the implementation of the
Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action agreed upon by the
World Conference on Human Rights held at Vienna in June 1993
(Report, A/CONF.157/24). The General Assembly, in its resolution
49/208 endorsed the view of the Secretary-General in his report
on the matter (A/49/668, para. 134) that implementation of these
instruments required concerted efforts on the part of all
relevant actors, including non-governmental organizations.

The General Assembly, in its resolution 49/208, requested the
Secretary-general to ensure as wide a distribution of the Vienna
Declaration and Programme of Action as possible. By means of its
educational and its information diffusion capabilities the
international cooperative movement is able to contribute
significantly to this diffusion, as well as to achievement of the
goals of the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education,
1995-2005, proclaimed by the General Assembly in its resolution
49/184 as a means to ensure that human rights education should
involve more than the provision of information and should
constitute a comprehensive life-long process by which people at
all levels in development and in all strata of society learn
respect for the dignity of others and the means and methods of
ensuring that respect in all societies. In this, the
international cooperative movement is able to complement
effectively the World Public Information Campaign for Human
Rights developed by the United Nations. By its resolution 49/187
the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General to take
advantage, as much as possible, of the collaboration of
non-governmental organization s in the implementation of this
Campaign. It called upon the Centre for Human Rights to serve as
liaison with non-governmental organizations.  In its resolution
1994/12, the Commission on Human Rights drew the attention of the
General Assembly to the contradiction between the existence of
situations of extreme poverty and social exclusion, which must
be overcome, and the duty of the international community to
guarantee the full enjoyment of human rights. In its resolution
49/179 of 23 December 1994 on "human rights and extreme poverty"
the General Assembly reaffirmed that extreme poverty and
exclusion from society constituted a violation of human dignity
and that urgent national and international action was therefore
required to eliminate them. As was indicated above in section 1,
the international cooperative movement contributes substantially
to the eradication, alleviation and avoidance of poverty, thereby
complementing the work of the United Nations in these areas..

13. Social harmony and tolerance

In his latest report to the General Assembly on cooperatives
(A/49/213) the Secretary-General showed that cooperative
enterprises and national and international cooperative
organizations contribute to social integration, stability and
harmony and to the alleviation of discrimination and
exploitation, both by means of the impact upon poverty, but also
by bringing together individuals, families and communities which
might otherwise have little contact, or remain in open conflict.
Many individual cooperative enterprises have adopted "ethical
stances" and codes of conduct which emphasize the position,
common throughout the cooperative movement, that while
achievement of business goals are essential, broader cooperative
goals include responsibility to communities and societies for a
harmonious and sustainable development. 

In its resolution 49/155 the General Assembly recognized that
cooperatives in their various forms were becoming an
indispensable factor in the economic and social development of
all countries, promoting the fullest possible participation in
the development process of all population groups, including
women, youth, disabled persons and the elderly. The Copenhagen
Declaration and the Copenhagen Programme of Action agreed upon
at the World Summit for Social Development both acknowledged that
cooperatives provided an important means whereby social
integration might be achieved. 

Thus, during the United Nations International Year of Tolerance,
being observed in 1995, with UNESCO acting as the lead
organization, cooperative movements will be contributing to its
objectives in numerous communities throughout the world. In its
resolution 49/213 of 23 December 1994 the General Assembly
invited interested non-governmental organizations "to exert their
efforts in their respective fields to contribute adequately to
the programmes for the Year and to the follow-up programme for
the Year". This latter is being prepared by UNESCO in the form
of a declaration of principles and a programme of action as a
follow-up to the Year to be submitted to the General Assembly at
its fifty-first session.

In participating in the observance of the Year the international
cooperative movement will be contributing to full observance of
the Declaration on the Elimination of All forms of Intolerance
of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, as well as of
article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights. The movement will be contributing to implementation of
the Revised Programme of Action of the Third Decade to Combat
Racism and Racial Discrimination (1993-2003), designed to
concentrate the efforts of the international community in order
to fully implement the provisions of the International Convention
on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. By its
resolution 49/146, the General Assembly invited interested
non-governmental organizations in consultative status with ECOSOC
to participate fully in the Third Decade. The international
cooperative movement participated in many countries in the
observance of sanctions against South Africa when under its
apartheid regime, and is now fully engaged in supporting the
South African cooperative movement.

14. Advancement of women

In his latest report to the General Assembly the
Secretary-General stated that "women continued to find membership
in cooperative enterprises a most effective means to achieve
economic empowerment, to engage in entrepreneurial activities and
in employment, and, of great importance, to retain the benefits
thereof" (A/49/213, para. 35). The ICA, together with most
regional and national cooperative movements, has developed
special programmes to promote that full equality of women with
men which is part of the principles which guide cooperative
enterprises throughout the world. In this way they have
contributed to the efforts of the United Nations to achieve the
goals of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the
Advancement of Women for the period up to the year 2000, as well
as the relevant recommendations set out in Agenda 21 and to
implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All forms
of Discrimination against Women. 

ICA participated in the regional preparatory meetings of Africa,
Asia, Europe and Latin America, for the Fourth World Conference
on Women: Action for Equality, Development and Peace. Jointly
with the United Nations Department for Policy Coordination and
Sustainable Development, ICA presented to the Commission on the
Status of Women at its thirty-ninth session in March 1995, a
comprehensive review of cooperative business enterprise and the
international cooperative movement to achievement of the
strategic objectives of the draft Platform of Action.

This review pointed out that cooperative enterprises and the
international movement not only facilitated women's escape from
poverty, in part by improving women's access and participation
in the definition of economic structures and policies and in the
productive process itself, but also increased recognition and
support for women's contribution to managing natural resources
and safeguarding the environment. Cooperatives helped to increase
women's access to health and education, and to reduce and
alleviate the effects of violence against women, including the
effects of armed and other kinds of conflict. They helped to
reduce inequality between women and men in the sharing of power
and decision-making at all levels, and, in large part through the
cooperative media, helped to increase awareness of and commitment
to internationally and nationally recognized women's human
rights. Cooperative movements at national and international level
participated in strengthening mechanisms whereby actions to
promote the advancement of women might be identified, decided
upon and implemented.

In the draft of the Platform of Action negotiated at the
Commission on the Status of Women at its thirty-ninth session in
March-April 1995 there were a number of references to the role
of cooperatives in the advancement of women, particularly in
respect to women's access to and participation in the definition
of economic structures and policies and the productive process
itself.

15. Children and young persons

Education, health, social services, housing, child-care, retail
consumer and credit and savings cooperatives contribute directly
to the well-being of children and young persons in many
countries. Unemployed school-leavers in some countries have
established their own production cooperatives in primary,
secondary and tertiary sectors. More generally, through their
impact upon the achievement of food security, the creation of
productive employment, the eradication, alleviation or avoidance
of poverty and social integration the cooperative movement has
contributed to improved conditions for children and young
persons, particularly in economically, locationally and
socio-culturally disadvantaged sections of societies throughout
the world.

By these direct and indirect means the international cooperative
movement contributes to implementation of the Convention on the
Rights of the Child and to achievement of the objectives of the
World Summit for Children held at New York in September 1990. In
some countries cooperative enterprises have given special
attention to the plight of street children, thereby responding
to the invitation of the General Assembly in its resolution
49/212 to non-governmental organizations to cooperate with each
other and with governmental and other actors, to ensure greater
awareness and more effective action to solve the problem of
street children by, among other measures, initiating and
supporting development projects that can have a positive impact
on the situation of street children.

The international cooperative movement is a significant potential
participant in the observance by the United Nations of the tenth
anniversary of the International Youth Year and a major
collaborator in the implementation of a World Programme of Action
for Youth towards the Year 2000.

16. Elderly persons

Housing, health, retail consumer, community development, social
service and other types of cooperative enterprise directly
contribute to the improved well-being of elderly persons. In
countries particularly affected by the ageing of their
populations, cooperative movements have taken the lead in
promoting strategies whereby this is taken into account in
societal management. This has been the case also for many rural
cooperatives, given the progressive ageing of rural populations
in many countries. Elderly persons themselves have established
production and service provision cooperatives as the most
appropriate means to create productive employment and contribute
the valuable human resources they constitute to the rest of
society.

In these ways the international cooperative movement has
contributed significantly to the work of the United Nations in
its implementation of the International Plan of Action on Ageing
and will collaborate closely in preparations for the observance
of the International Year of the Elderly.

17. Persons with disabilities

In addition to the direct contributions of housing, social
services and health cooperatives to the full equality and
integration of persons with disabilities in society, a
considerable number of production and service provision
cooperatives owned by their member-workers have incorporated, or
have comprised entirely, persons with disabilities seeking full
integration by means of sheltered or supported employment. In
some countries a major share of arrangements for such integration
has been taken by cooperative enterprises.

By these means the international cooperative movement contributes
to the implementation of the Standard Rules on the Equalization
of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities and of the
Long-Term Strategy to Implement the World Programme of Action
concerning Disabled persons to the Year 2000 and Beyond.

18. Indigenous peoples

Cooperative enterprises are a particularly well-suited form of
empowerment for indigenous peoples, and an organizational form
usually well suited to the socio-cultural values and norms which
characterise them. Because cooperatives established by and for
indigenous communities can group themselves in larger "indigenous
cooperative federations" this empowerment process is further
strengthened. Such federations are usually members of national
- and through them international - cooperative movements, thereby
securing not only solidarity and practical support, but a forum
for addressing their concerns to wider society. ICA works closely
with ILO and the UN to promote indigenous peoples' cooperative
movements, in the context of the United Nations International
Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples.

19. Migrants

Because they are open to all persons who can contribute to, and
benefit from, their activities, cooperative enterprises in rural
and urban areas of both developed and developing countries offer
an organizational means whereby recent migrants may obtain
productive and remunerative work under relatively protected
conditions of labour. Housing and community development
cooperatives in many urban areas with large in-migrant
populations frequently make special arrangements for their
integration in host societies. In areas of out-migration,
particularly where characterised by feminization and poverty,
cooperative business enterprises offer a significant means
whereby local communities may retain or achieve economic and
social viability. Credit and savings cooperatives facilitate the
transfer of migrant remittances.

By these means the international cooperative movement contributes
to implementation of the International Convention on the
Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of
their Families, adopted by the General Assembly at its
forty-fifth session.

20. Refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons

Cooperative forms of the organization of rural communities
established as a means of resettling refugees and internally
displaced persons have been significant in many countries, and
have been sponsored and supported by national cooperative
movements as a form of solidarity. As an expression of the
principles both of open membership and of concern for the
communities in which they operate, other cooperative enterprises
have frequently extended membership to refugees and internally
displaced persons. Consequently, international and national
cooperative movements and individual cooperative enterprises are
able to collaborate significantly with the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees. 

21.Families

By means of their contributions to the viability of small- and
medium-sized enterprises, many of which are owned, managed and
largely operated by families, as well as through their broader
impact upon employment, including self-employment, cooperative
business enterprises contribute significantly to the economic
welfare of family units. Retail cooperatives, other service
cooperatives, housing, health, education, day-care and other
types of cooperative enterprise contribute directly to family
well-being, in part through rendering more efficient the
operation of household micro-enterprises, partly by promoting
inter-generational harmony and the greater equality of women with
men. Credit and savings cooperatives, cooperative banks and
cooperative insurance enterprises make special efforts to support
and facilitate the management of family finances.

By these means the international cooperative movement will be
closely engaged in the follow-up to the International Year of the
Family.

In 1993, the ICA was a recipient of the International Year of the
Family Testimonial in recognition for its important contribution
towards the cause of families and the promotion of the
Internationaal Year of the family. 

22. Sustainable human development

Cooperatives are people-centred business enterprises, whether
they are small village-level production and community development
enterprises or major enterprises included, for example, in the
United States' "Fortune 500" list of the largest corporations.
They are an organizational means for economic empowerment, which
provides the base for social and political empowerment. They are
concerned with the sustainability of the communities in which
they operate, have an inter-generational perspective and are
often in the vanguard of citizens' movements for an improved
quality of economies and societies. They are an effective form
of social institution in themselves: and in the communities in
which they operate, the spill-over effect of the experience
gained by members in their democratic direction and management
works for the strengthening of civil society. At regional and
national levels the cooperative movement is often among the
leaders in movements for sustainability, social harmony and
effective governance. They are,in fact, a long-established, fully
proven and widely disseminated form of "sustainable human
development", and thereby, a significant partner for United
Nations efforts in this area.

23. Democratization and the strengthening of civil society

Cooperative enterprises are fundamentally democratic
associations. They are autonomous associations of persons united
voluntarily; they operate on the basis of the values of equality
and equity and practice honesty, openness and social
responsibility in all their activities; they are democratic and
participatory organizations actively controlled by their members;
their wider groupings and national and international
organizations are controlled also by democratic procedures.
Because of these cooperative principles and the very wide
dimensions of the cooperative movement they are important means
for the diffusion of experience of the democratic organization
of communities and societies: they are frequently referred to as
"schools for democracy", a fact recognised by the
Secretary-General in his latest report to the General Assembly
on the status and role of cooperatives in the light of new
economic and social trends (A/49/213, chap.VI).

Hence the international cooperative movement is one of the most
significant supporters of the efforts of the United Nations to
promote democratization and to enhance the effectiveness of
periodic and genuine elections.

By enhancing community responsibility and cohesion and by
strengthening solidarity between all members of society, the
international cooperative movement contributes significantly to
the strengthening of a pluralistic civil society thereby
contributing to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action
adopted by the World Conference on Human Rights in 1993, to the
Copenhagen Programme of Action adopted by the World Summit for
Social Development in 1995 and to the goals of the International
Year of Tolerance, 1995 (in its resolution 49/213 of 23 December
1994 the General Assembly stated its conviction that tolerance
was the sound foundation of any civil society).

24. Efficient and competent public administration

By means of their participation in democratically organized
enterprises, associations and movements, members of cooperatives
are better equipped than many citizens to participate in local
and national political life. They are accustomed to the notion
of openness and honesty in policy development and implementation.

Moreover, in both developed and developing market economies, and
in transitional economies, cooperative enterprises have taken
over effectively significant areas of economic and social
activity formerly undertaken by public agencies, thereby
alleviating the cost of carrying out structural adjustment
programmes. In some countries they participate in partnerships
with local governments whereby they may jointly strengthen the
services available to citizens.

In these ways the international cooperative movement contributes
to the work of the United Nations in this area. By its resolution
49/136, the General Assembly invited interested non-governmental
organizations to contribute, as appropriate, to its work on the
matter of public administration and development at a resumed
fiftieth session in March-April 1996, to which the
Secretary-General will submit a report through ECOSOC.

25. Crime prevention

By means of its contribution to the eradication, alleviation or
avoidance of poverty the international cooperative movement has
a significant impact upon a fundamental cause of crime. Through
its contribution to social harmony and integration, and its
capacity to facilitate the integration of individuals and
communities who may be disadvantaged or marginalized, the
movement is able to help in the removal of another major cause
or aggravating factor. Certain types of cooperative - for
example, housing and community development cooperatives - are
engaged more directly in the reduction of tension, violence and
crime within neighbourhoods, notably in inner cities. An
increasing number of cooperatives, including worker-cooperatives
and social service provision cooperatives, have been established
in order to integrate former offenders, together with others who
require support, in society. Victims of violence and crime,
particularly women, have been supported and reintegrated in their
communities by worker, health, social service and housing
cooperatives.

By these means the international cooperative movement contributes
to the goals of the United Nations in the field of crime
prevention.

An increasing number of cooperative banks (some of which are
among the largest in their countries of operation, and are
increasingly engaged in international financial transactions) are
adopting, as part of their "ethical stance", commitments to make
every effort to ensure that they are not used for illegal
transactions, thereby contributing to the Naples Political
Declaration and Global Action Plan against Organized
Transnational Crime adopted at the World Ministerial Conference
on Organized Transnational Crime and approved by the General
Assembly in its resolution 49/159. Given the increased
international dimensions of cooperative activity, including
international trade, other parts of the international cooperative
movement may be in a position to contribute to the objectives of
the United Nations in this area.

26. Education

Among the principles applied as general guidelines for the
activities of all cooperative enterprises world-wide is that of
education. Cooperatives foster reciprocal, ongoing education
programmes for members, leaders and employees so they can teach
- and learn from - each other in understanding and carrying out
their respective roles. The ICA maintains contact with a wide
variety of interest groups and networks concerned with
cooperative education at national and regional levels, including
cooperative colleges. The work of ICA and its regional offices
is guided by a Policy on Human Resource Development adopted in
1990: it is advised by an International Committee for Training
and Education of Co-operators (INCOTEC). ILO, through its
comprehensive programme MATCOM, has supported the education of
cooperative members, leaders and employees in the management and
operation of cooperative enterprises.

Partly as a means to ensure members and employees are fully able
to carry out their functions, but partly also as a means to
realise the basic cooperative goals of an improved quality of
life and prospects for economic, social and political advancement
for all members, many cooperative movements emphasize provision
of literacy, numeracy, adult and vocational education for those
members not able to satisfy their needs otherwise.

ICA has Category A consultative status with UNESCO. It
collaborates with UNESCO in the award by the latter of travel
grants for leaders in workers' and cooperative education, mainly
in developing countries, who then undertake study programmes in
other cooperative movements.

In many countries educational cooperatives, established either
by groups of teachers, or by groups of parents (and sometimes by
both, jointly), provide education to significant numbers of
children not otherwise adequately served by either public or
other private educational systems.

National and international cooperative movements possess a
substantial media capability, by means of which information, not
only on the movement's own activities, but on matters of general
interest to cooperative members, is diffused widely. This is of
considerable significance, given that about 800,000,000 persons
are members of the cooperative movement, and that an additional
very large number of persons in immediate families and households
can be reached through the cooperative movement's own media.

By these means the international cooperative movement is making
significant contributions to the goals identified in the World
Conference on Education for All held at Jomtien, Thailand in
March 1990, and to the full enjoyment by all of the rights
established in the Convention against Discrimination
in Education adopted by UNESCO on 14 December 1960.

27. Cultural development

Cooperative enterprises are autonomous associations of persons
united voluntarily to meet their common economic and social needs
through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.
For the most part, goals are defined in economic terms, or in
terms of the provision of, for example, social services to
members. However, since the foundation of the modern cooperative
movement it has given much attention to education, both in
respect to the skills required for effective management and
operation of cooperative enterprises, but also in terms of the
broader education and cultural development of members, their
families and the communities in which the cooperative enterprise
operates and its members live. As an expression of concern for
achievement by members of improved quality of life, many
cooperative enterprises devote some of their surplus to cultural
expression and development. Moreover, given that individual
cooperative enterprises often include members from differing
socio-cultural backgrounds, a characteristic even more pronounced
for cooperative movements operating at the national level,
particularly those in multi-cultural societies, cooperative
movements are able to contribute significantly to the promotion
of intercultural expression, understanding and appreciation.

Consequently, given the dimensions of the international
cooperative movement in terms of membership, its composition in
terms of the widespread inclusion of otherwise disadvantaged
sections of society, and its emphasis upon comprehensive
individual and communal development, it may be expected that
national cooperative movements and individual cooperative
enterprises will be able to contribute significantly to
implementation of the Plan of Action for the World Decade for
Cultural Development, 1988-1997, being observed under the
auspices of the United Nations and UNESCO, as well as to the work
of the World Commission on Culture and Development.

28. Health

In addition to the contributions made to health through their
eradication, alleviation or avoidance of poverty, and through
their supply of adequate housing, utilities and infrastructure,
there are in an increasing number of countries cooperative
enterprises specifically established to meet the health needs of
their members, or as service provider cooperatives owned by
medical professionals.

Moreover, because they are owned and their operational practices
controlled by the members who make up the work-force, production
cooperatives are particularly sensitive to occupational health
requirements. Agricultural supply cooperatives are particularly
concerned that farm inputs are not only environmentally safe, but
do not prejudice the health of their member-users. Consumer
cooperatives have been leaders in many countries in providing
nutritionally sound foodstuffs as well as ensuring that other
commodities are compatible with the health of their user-members.
Cooperative banks in some countries have adopted an "ethical
stance" in respect to their business transactions which preclude
association with enterprises engaged in tobacco production and
distribution.

ICA, in collaboration with WHO, has promoted a pilot project
designed to address by means of cooperative forms of organization
the problems of communities in Zambia, and particularly women
members of those communities, affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
The international cooperative movement is able to contribute to
the United Nations Joint and Co-sponsored (JCP) Programme on
HIV/AIDS.

In these ways the international cooperative movement is making
significant direct and major indirect contributions to
achievement of the Strategy of Health for All by the year 2000.
National health cooperative organizations are increasing their
international collaboration, and the ICA is considering the
establishment of a specialist body in order to promote and
support health cooperatives. The potential of the international
cooperative movement for contributing to the current work of the
World Health Organization in updating the policy, objectives and
targets for health for all and the strategy for responding to
worldwide change is very great. Thus, it appears to have a
substantial potential for contributing to a new global health
policy based on the concepts of equity and solidarity emphasizing
individual and collective responsibility and placing health
within the overall development framework and to the discussions
to be held at a world conference with the task of adopting a
health charter based on this new health policy to be held late
in 1997.

29. Drug abuse

By contributing to the viability and prosperity of rural regions,
by providing a means for the economic empowerment of indigenous
peoples and the sustainable management of fragile ecosystems in
mountainous regions, cooperative enterprises established by rural
producers, either as agricultural or forestry production or
environmental management cooperatives, or as rural supply and
marketing cooperatives, are able to facilitate the substitution
of legitimate and alternative but viable activities for
production of natural narcotic and psychotropic substances in
many countries, within national drug control strategies. Because
of their commitment to sustainable development national
cooperative movements are well placed to implement
environmentally safe eradication programmes.

By contributing to the eradication, alleviation and avoidance of
poverty, by helping to create and maintain productive employment,
and by fostering community solidarity and harmony, cooperative
enterprises are able to foster an environment within which demand
for narcotic substances is reduced. Moreover, in many countries,
housing and community development cooperatives actively seek to
avoid drug abuse. These and small production and service
provision cooperatives provide supported employment opportunities
whereby former drug addicts may become rehabilitated: many are
established specifically for this purpose. Health cooperatives
give special emphasis to the prevention of drug abuse, as well
as the treatment of drug addicts. In some countries cooperative
banks have adopted an explicit "ethical stance" with respect to
their business practices and transactions whereby they commit
themselves to ensuring that their financial services cannot be
exploited for the purposes of drug trafficking.

In these and related ways the international cooperative movement
is complementing the efforts of the international community to
carry out the United Nations System-wide Action Plan on Drug
Abuse Control and to achieve the objectives of the United Nations
Decade against Drug Abuse 1991-2000 and its Global Programme of
Action.

30. International harmony and peace

Since its establishment in 1895 ICA has worked actively for
international peace: it continued to operate and to bring
together members from hostile sides during two world wars and
during the cold war, as well as during numerous regional
conflicts. In many instances it was the only international
organization capable of surviving such tensions. Disruption in
normal international relations during such events have been
rapidly restored as an expression of global solidarity and common
interests, and ICA has worked to restore peaceful conditions and
civilized society. By these means the international cooperative
movement has been and remains an important supporter of the
fundamental role of the United Nations: that of seeking
international peace.

31. An Agenda for Development

The international cooperative movement is closely concerned by
the overall policy framework of the United nations for sustained
economic growth and sustainable development in order to address
the challenges of the 1990s. It has an interest in the outcome
of the Declaration on International Economic Cooperation, in
particular the Revitalization of Economic Growth and Development
of the Developing Countries (General Assembly resolution S-18/3,
annex, of 1 May 1990); the International Development Strategy for
the Fourth United Nations Development Decade (General Assembly
resolution 45/199, annex, of 21 December 1990); the United
Nations New Agenda for the Development of Africa in the 1990s
(General Assembly resolution 46/151, annex, 1991); the Programme
of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the 1990s (set
out in the Report of the Second United Nations Conference on the
Least Developed Countries, Paris, 3-14 September 1990
(A/CONF.147/18)); A New Partnership for Development: The
Cartagena Comitment (Proceedings of the United Nations Conference
on Trade and Development, Eighth Session, Report and Annexes,
(TD/364/Rev.1), February 1992); and Agenda 21.

ICA participated in the World Hearings on Development promoted
by the President of the forty-eighth session of the General
Assembly in June 1994, which, pursuant to General Assembly
resolution 49/126 on an Agenda for Development, will be taken
into consideration by the open-ended ad hoc working group of the
General Assembly on an Agenda for Development, charged with the
task of elaborating further an action-oriented, comprehensive
Agenda for Development, beginning in 1995.

The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action adopted by the
World Conference on Human Rights held at Vienna in June 1993
(Report, A/CONF.157/24) reaffirmed the right to development as
a universal and inalienable right and an integral part of all
fundamental human rights and reaffirms that the human persons is
the central subject of development. This position is identical
to that of the international cooperative movement, which has for
150 years embodied the efforts of hundreds of millions of
individual women and men precisely to realize and to enjoy this
right. The international cooperative movement, therefore, has a
close interest and much to contribute to the ongoing work of the
United Nations, and specifically to that of the Working Group on
the Right to Development of the Commission for Human Rights. In
particular, it is in a position to respond to the invitation of
the General Assembly in its resolution 49/183 to regional
commissions and regional intergovernmental organizations, to
consider how they may contribute to the realization of the right
to development. This includes convening meetings of governmental
experts and representative non-governmental and grass-roots
organizations for the purpose of seeking arrangements or
agreements for the implementation of the Declaration on the Right
to Development through international cooperation.

In considering the work of the General Assembly on the renewal
of the dialogue on strengthening international economic
cooperation for development through partnership, pursuant to
General Assembly resolution 49/95, it may be noted that the
international cooperative movement encompasses movements in both
the North and the South, and increasingly in the East. It has a
long experience of identifying common interests among groups
having apparently differing interests and views - such as
producers and consumers, agriculturalists and environmentalists,
middle-income and lower-income sections of society, indigenous
and immigrant populations, - and between long-term and short-term
perspectives and aspirations. It has succeeded in establishing
considerable solidarity and agreement to emphasize sustainable
mutual self-help throughout the global movement. Consequently,
ICA may be able to play a catalytic role in promoting the concept
that all members of the international community have the same
long-term interests, even if in the short-term, or on the basis
of common perception, they have opposing interests.

32. Structural adjustment and least developed countries

Cooperatives are an important means whereby the negative impact
of structural adjustment strategies may be reduced and the
opportunities presented by new economic structures seized. In
many developing countries the privatization and liberalization
processes have made possible the substitution of previously
inefficient state and parastatal enterprises with genuine,
people-centred and motivated cooperative enterprises, many
providing employment and entrepreneurial opportunities to persons
made redundant or suffering from declining standards of living.
Many public services made ineffective because of retrenchment
have been taken over by consumer and user-owned cooperatives able
to meet needs more effectively. Given the significance of many
forms of cooperatives in the reconstruction of local communities
and national societies in the poorest countries, and the
attention given by ICA to the reconstruction of viable national
cooperative movements there, cooperative activities are a
particularly valuable means for achieving the goals of the United
Nations Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for
the 1990s and of the United Nations New Agenda for the
Development of Africa in the 1990s. Consequently, it appears that
the international cooperative movement, through ICA, might be
able to contribute to the preparations for the High-level
Intergovernmental Meeting on the Mid-term Global Review of the
Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed
Countries for the 1990s to be held in New York from 26 September
to 6 October 1995, pursuant to General Assembly resolution 49/98.

33. Island developing countries

In 1992, the Secretariat of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)
informed the Secretary-General that human resources could be
effectively harnessed through the cooperative movement in a
region in which its membership was over one million in a total
population of 5.6 million. Cooperatives had a tremendous
potential, particularly in the context of structural adjustment,
they said, and were well placed to deal with the social effects
of adjustment on vulnerable groups within the population. 
Cooperatives are of particular significance in island developing
countries: producer-owned fisheries cooperatives are well
developed in many of these countries, and high proportions of
their agricultural and fisheries commodities produced for export
are handled by marketing cooperatives, while membership in
savings and credit cooperatives ("credit unions") is particularly
high in such countries. 

The national cooperative movements in these countries, supported
by regional cooperative movements in, for example, the Caribbean
and South-east Asia, are important means for implementation of
Agenda 21 (in respect to chapter 17, section G) and for the
achievement of the goals of the Programme of Action for the
Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States adopted
at the Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small
Island Developing States held in Barbados in April-May 1994.
Consequently, the international cooperative movement has
considerable potential for collaborating with the United Nations
Conference on Trade and Development and the Department for Policy
Coordination and Sustainable Development in the follow-up to the
high-level panel of the Commission for Sustainable Development
to discuss the challenges faced by island developing countries,
pursuant to general Assembly resolution 49/100.

34. Non-self-governing territories and the rights of peoples to
self-determination

Cooperative enterprises and movements exist in many of the
territories which have not yet achieved sovereignty, and
contribute significantly to the viability of their economies and
to the harmony of their societies, and thereby to the ability of
peoples still under colonial, foreign and alien domination to
achieve self-determination, a fundamental condition for the
effective guarantee and observance of human rights. In certain
of these territories cooperative enterprises have been
established by refugees and internally displaced persons as an
important means to reassert their capacity for self-help and to
restore their dignity. By this means the cooperative movement
contributes to the achievement of the goals of the Declaration
on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples
and to the relevant sections of the Vienna Declaration and
Programme of Action adopted by the World Conference on Human
Rights in 1993.

35. Transitional economies

The rebuilding of a genuine cooperative movement in transitional
economies has been acknowledged by the Secretary-general in his
recent reports to the General Assembly to be an important means,
not only to establish a sustainable and viable market economy,
but also as a means to strengthen civil society and promote true
democracy. Numerous cooperative movements outside these economies
are actively assisting in the rebuilding of cooperative
movements, many of which flourished prior to the socialist period
and to their being taken over as major segments of the state and
parastatal sectors. In Geneva, the Co-op Network for Co-operative
Development in Eastern and Central Europe, which was set up in
1993, now has 54 members comprising regional, national and
sectoral cooperative development institutions.

These activities contribute significantly to achievement of the
goals set out by the United Nations General Assembly in its
resolutions 47/175, 47/187, 48/181 and 49/106, as well as the
relevant decisions of the Economic Commission for Europe
(decisions B (49) and C (49), both of 26 April 1994) and the
Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (50/1 and
50/2, both of 13 April 1994).

36. Technical assistance

A little known component of overall technical assistance flows
from the North to both the East and the South, as well as within
the South, is that of the international cooperative movement.
Individual cooperative enterprises, ranging from relatively small
cooperatives to major groups, as well as national cooperative
movements, provide some financial assistance, but mostly transfer
experience, provide experts and organize exchanges of personnel.
This assistance is highly productive because it is
self-generated, it occurs between enterprises with common
experience and goals, within a movement characterised by a high
level of solidarity, and because it is a form of enlightened
self-interest, for numerous partnerships for trade and for
technological exchange have developed by this means.

Governments recognise the dimensions and the effectiveness of
cooperative technical assistance. Many channel substantial
resources through it, and seek to strengthen the structures and
mechanisms of the cooperative movement. Thus in 1994 the
Governments of Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland,
France, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden,
Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States provided
funds to specialised cooperative development institutions in
those countries for the purpose of supplementing and supporting
such activities.

A growing component of the technical assistance activities of the
international cooperative movement is that between cooperative
enterprises and movements in the countries of the South, some
involving regional movements and the regional offices of the ICA.
In these ways the international cooperative movement complements
the work of the United Nations in carrying out the Buenos Aires
Plan of Action for Promoting and Implementing Technical
Cooperation among Developing Countries, the subsequent work of
the High level Committee on Technical Cooperation among
Developing Countries and the United Nations Conference on Trade
and Development Standing Committee on Economic Cooperation among
Developing Countries. The cooperative movement will be in a
position to contribute significantly to the international
conference on South-South cooperation which the United Nations
was called upon to consider convening in 1996 by the eighteenth
annual Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Group of
77 held in September 1994.  

37. International trade 

Significant contributions to international trade are made by
cooperatives: for example in 1992 12 per cent of United States
exports originated in cooperative enterprises; in Brazil this
proportion was 50% for wheat and 40% for cotton; in Kenya the
percentage was 100% for cotton, 87% for pyrethrum and 52% for
coffee in 1993. In Spain the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation,
producing engineering and household equipment goods, realises 65
per cent of its sales from exports and has offices in the United
States, Germnay, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and Hong Kong.
A specialized body of the ICA, the International Organization for
Consumer Cooperative Distributive Trade (INTER-COOP) undertakes
joint purchasing, organizes "export fairs" and exchanges
experience. It operates offices in Hong Kong, Denmark, Spain,
Germany, Italy, Brazil, Argentina, the United States and Hungary.
ICA maintains close contacts with UNCTAD and with regional trade
organizations.

The international cooperative movement has an interest in the
further development of relationships between the United Nations
and the World Trade Organization, particularly in order to
achieve the urgent and full implementation of agreements
contained in the Final Act Embodying the Results of the Uruguay
Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations, adopted at the
Ministerial Meeting of the Trade Negotiations Committee in April
1994 at Marrakesh, Morocco, and in the implementation of General
Assembly resolution 49/99 on international trade and development.
The international cooperative movement has a substantial
potential for collaborating with the United Nations in the
implementation of activities within the policy framework provided
by the Columbus Ministerial Declaration on Trade Efficiency, in
particular by participation in the Global Trade Point Network,
established in order to allow all countries to trade more
efficiently with each other and to assist those that have so far
remained at the fringe of international trade, in particular the
least developed countries and small and medium-sized enterprises
in all countries. 

Of particular significance for the international cooperative
movement, given the substantial involvement of supply and
marketing cooperatives in exporting countries and of consumer
cooperatives in importing countries, is the work of the United
Nations, and specifically UNCTAD, in the area of commodities
within the context of General Assembly resolution 49/104 which,
among other things, urges producers and consumers of individual
commodities to intensify their efforts aimed at reinforcing
mutual cooperation and assistance. In this regard, it may be
noted that the General Assembly, in its resolution 49/103 on food
and agriculture, specifically invites the organizations and
bodies of the United Nations system and the multilateral
financial institutions working in the field of food and
agriculture to support developing country efforts in the
development of small and medium-sized agro-industries and
cooperatives and in the improvement of processing,
transportation, distribution and marketing modalities of their
food and other agricultural products.

38. Fiftieth Anniversary of the United Nations

As a result of discussions with the Secretariat of the United
Nations Fiftieth Anniversary, ICA will promote the diffusion of
information on the activities of the United Nations during this
anniversary year, and particularly those which closely complement
the activities of the international cooperative movement, by
means of the extensive cooperative media system which brings
information to the over three billion persons within families
closely associated with cooperatives throughout the world. For
many of these, the media owned by cooperative organizations is
one of the most important if not the only source of information. 

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This note was prepared by the United Nations Department for