UN Activities to Promote and Support Co-ops

Activities of the United Nations in Promoting and Supporting
          Co-operatives in Partnership with 
       the International Co-operative Movement

   Since the first year of its existence the United Nations has
been concerned to establish a mutually beneficial partnership
with the international co-operative movement.  In its first
session, held in 1945-1946, the General Assembly of the United
Nations granted the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) the
highest category of consultative status which a non-governmental
organization can hold with the Economic and Social Council of the
United Nations.

   Subsequently, the United Nations and ICA have collaborated on
many issues of common concern.  Since 1950 the General Assembly
has adopted 12 resolutions calling for the continued support of
the co-operative movement throughout the world by Member States
and by the United Nations system itself.  During this same period
the Economic and Social Council has adopted 13 resolutions on the
same theme.

   The last General Assembly resolution, 49/155 of 23 December
1994, recognized that "co-operatives 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."   It encouraged Governments "to consider fully the
potential of co-operatives for contributing to the solution of
economic, social and environmental problems in formulating
national development strategies".

   The resolution also invited the World Summit for Social
Development, held at Copenhagen in March 1995, the Fourth World
Conference on Women, held at Beijing in September 1995, and the
United Nations Conference on Human Settlements, Habitat II, to
be held at Istanbul in June 1996, to take into account the
potential contribution of co-operatives when drawing up their

   Numerous specialized elements of the United Nations system
undertake work designed to strengthen a partnership between co-
operative movements, governments, other concerned organizations
in society and themselves for the achievement of common goals. 
 Among the specialized agencies of the system the oldest and one
of the largest programmes is that of the Enterprise and Co-
operatives Branch of the International Labour Organization (ILO). 
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
also has a long-established programme, while the United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the
World Bank, the International Fund for Agricultural Development
(IFAD) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization
(UNIDO) have all from time to time undertaken programmes in
support of co-operatives.   The World Health Organization is
likely soon to work in collaboration with the international
health co-operative movement. 

   Within the United Nations itself, each of the five Regional
Commissions, the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP), the
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the
United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP), the
World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Centre for Human
Settlements (Habitat), the International Research and Training
Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) and the United
Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) have
all from time to time worked for the promotion and support of co-
operatives in areas of mutual interest.

                                           September 1995