Message from the International Co-operative Alliance

  ------------------------------------------------------------
   This document has been made available in electronic format
           by the International Co-operative Alliance.
  ------------------------------------------------------------

     74th International Co-operative Day (Saturday, 6 July 1996)

     -------------------------------------------------------   
      Message from the International Co-operative Alliance
           Co-operatives for Sustainable Development  
    --------------------------------------------------------

The potential of co-operative enterprises to contribute to the
alleviation of poverty through the creation of employment and to
satisfy certain of society's needs more effectively than either
public or private profit-making enterprises have been
widely recognised by the United Nations.  

One of the ways in which the UN demonstrated this recognition was
by declaring, in 1995, that the International Day of
Co-operatives should be celebrated every year by Governments in
collaboration with their national co-operative movements. In
1996, as the International Community celebrates the Year for the
Eradication of Poverty, the UN will again draw the attention of
Governments to the significant contribution of co-operatives to
reducing poverty and to the need to form partnerships with the
Movement.  

Co-operatives have always had an impact in the communities in
which they operate. Working at the grassroots level they help to
bring about sustainable development in the community by
empowering their members. The member movements of the
International Co-operative Alliance also act globally through
their apex organisation and have thus won increased recognition
at the international level for their valuable contribution to the
achievement of the economic, social and environmental goals of
the United Nations. 

Concern for Community, a new Co-operative Principle reflecting
the impact co-operatives have in contributing to sustainable
development within communities, was added to the guiding
principles of the International Co-operative Movement in the new
Statement of the Co-operative Identity adopted at the Centennial
Congress and General Assembly of the International Co-operative
Alliance in September, 1995.   

Some of the Co-operative Principles  have changed little since
the movement began over 150 years ago. The first three
Principles: Voluntary and Open Membership, Democratic Member
Control, and Member Economic Participation are the foundations
on which the modern movement was built. Principle four, Autonomy
and Independence, has been proven as a necessary ingredient in
societies where governments have formerly used co-operatives to
enforce their own development programmes and economic plans often
to the detriment of the co-operative values of self-help and
responsibility. Principle five, Education, Training and
Information, has been acknowledged as being of primordial
importance, not only for the co-operative members and elected
representatives, managers and employees, but also for society at
large, especially  for those who govern societies, for opinion
leaders and for the young people who will become the co-operators
of tomorrow.  

Co-operative Solidarity, or as  stated in the sixth Principle of
the Statement of Co-operative Identity,  Co-operation between
Co-operatives, is the potential strength of the international
co-operative movement. It is a principle which is becoming
increasingly important in the face of the contemporary global
economic, social and political trends which societies everywhere
are facing. 

The International Co-operative Alliance calls upon its more than
760,000,000 members at grassroots level, and also upon
co-operative enterprises and organisations at local, regional and
national level, to consider not only how to improve their own
situation, but also to devote significant energy to promoting new
co-operative enterprises in their own and related fields.  

The ICA moreover calls upon its member organisations and
specialised organisations in the fields of agriculture,  banking,
consumer co-operation, energy, fisheries, health, housing,
insurance, trade, tourism and industrial and artisanal
production, as well as its committees working in the fields of
communications, human resource development, co-operative research
and the promotion of  equal opportunities for women in
co-operatives, to work together to build a strong, united
movement which can help make tomorrow's world a better place for
future generations.