Chapter I - Regional Structures of Coop Movement & South-South Cooperation

   This document has been made available in electronic format
          by the Committee for the Promotion and 
               Advancement of Cooperatives

Intergovernmental Meeting of Experts on South-South Cooperation
                 31 July - 4 August 1995

                  SOUTH - SOUTH COOPERATION
                   OF THE PRIVATE SECTOR

    Background paper prepared by the United Nations Department 
       for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development
                     New York, July 1995


One of the fundamental principles of the cooperative movement,
applied by members of cooperative business enterprises throughout
the world as a general guideline for their activities, is that
of cooperation among cooperatives: "in order to best serve the
interests of their members and their communities, cooperatives,
locally, regional, nationally, and internationally."

Thus, not only do cooperative business enterprises which are
active in the same sector and regional development horizontal
groupings in order to benefit from common services, economies of
scale and solidarity in dealing with other stakeholders in the
market and in society as a whole, but they expand vertically to
develop their own systems of input production and supply, their
own systems of output processing and marketing.  Where practical
they use financial cooperatives as a source of capital and money
management.  Producer cooperatives seek out consumer
cooperatives.  Cooperatives of many types diversify or establish
links with specialist service cooperatives to provide members and
employees with health and other social services.  Although a
movement consisting of autonomous enterprises and voluntary
groupings, a very strong solidarity exists, and numerous forms
of representational and common services organizations have been

The existence of numerous and inter-related cooperative
organizations and the fact that these have been built up by means
of a bottom-up process and voluntary alliances, are matters of
particular relevance to the movement's predisposition and
practical ability to engage in South-South cooperation.


Cooperative business enterprises operating in the same sector or
geographical region almost always set up representative and
servicing organizations:  these exist also at a national level,
where these bring together cooperatives from diverse sectors' and
all regions. 

In Latin America, national cooperative movements, representing
all types of cooperative enterprise with their countries have
established their own regional organizations: the Organization
of Cooperatives of the Americas (OCA); the Confederation of
Cooperatives of the Caribbean and Central America (CCC-CA).

In addition, national representative organizations set up by
cooperative enterprises in certain sectors, or even certain types
have also established their representative and service
organizations at the regional level.  This is the case for
example, of the latin America Confederation of Workers'
Cooperatives and Mutual Societies (COLACOT).

In Africa, Asia and the Pacific, these types of organizations are
less well developed.  In Western Asia and North Africa general
national cooperative movements are linked within the Pan-Arab
Cooperative Union.  In Asia and the Pacific a sub-regional
cooperative organization has been formed by general and national
organizations in the ASEAN sub-region.  Those in the countries
of SARC are currently exploring the possibility of establishing
a similar sub-regional organization.  There are no such general
cooperative organizations in the remainder of Africa, or in
eastern Asia or the Pacific.

However, financial cooperatives have established substantial
institutional structures in all regions of the South.  Because
of their distinct and considerable involvement in South-South
cooperation, discussion of their organizational structures is
included in Chapters II and III as appropriate.


Internationally, the global cooperative movement is represented
by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA).  This provides
services to member organizations, and represents them in resect
to intergovernmental bodies and to international representatives
of closely related movements and entities, including the non-
cooperatively organized business community, other employers
organizations, farmers' associations, trade unions, consumers
organizations, and organizations representing major sections of
the population defined in terms of gender, age, socio-cultural
characteristics, etc.

The ICA Regional Officers were set up primarily as part of
programmes of technical assistance for cooperative development
in the South which began in the 1950s and gained momentum in the
1960s.  They were established largely with financial and
technical assistance form cooperative development agencies in the
North.  Thus the Office for Asia and the Pacific was established
in 1960 with support form the Swedish cooperative movement, as
was that for Eastern, central and Southern Africa at Moshi,
Tanzania in 1968.  Later , the ICA Project Office for the
Southern Cone of South America, in Argentina, was funded largely
by one of the Italian national cooperative organizations.

A decentralized organizational structure of the ICA Took effect
in 1993.  This included a more formal regional structure,
including new Regional Assemblies.  The Regional Assemblies were
to be constituted by national (and in some cases, by sectoral and
even regional cooperative organizations) in the countries of the
geographical region being served.

At the same time a process of rationalization affected the
geographical basis fro the regional Assemblies:  In May, 1993 for
the first time a Regional Assembly for Africa met, bringing
together formerly separate bodies for West Africa and for
Eastern, Central and Southern Africa respectively.  In 1995 a new
Regional Assembly for the Americas was set up:  previously there
had been groupings for Central America and the Caribbean and for
South America.

As part of this restructuring process, the Regional Offices of
the ICA assumed considerable autonomy.  They were to less donor-
oriented and would regard themselves as networks to support the
work of regional cooperative organizations, specialized bodies
and members within the region.  They were to be operated by
specialists from the region in question, and increasingly
financed form the national cooperative organizations which ere
members.  While financial and technical assistance, including the
secondment of specialists, is provided by cooperative movements
in the North, and the ICA Head Office and Specialized Bodies,
these programmes are development as partnerships with equal
participation of the regional offices in their planning,
implementation and evaluation.

The projects administered ny the ICA's regional offices are
largely funded by the cooperative movement itself: in 1993 two
thirds of the development budget of the Regional Office for Asia
and the Pacific  was provided with the region (albeit largely
from Japan and Australia).  regional development plans are
examined and agreed at annual planning meetings by the regional
office and c(cooperative) donors.

One of the principal functions of the Regional Offices was to
stimulate cooperative development in all countries in the
geographical region.   For example, a Development Forum held in
conjunction with the session of ICA's Central Committee held in
madrid, Spain in September, 1990 concluded that in Latin America
and the Caribbean coordination of the actions of different
regional organizations was essential if resources were to be
better used  it would be necessary to improve economic
collaboration, joint activities, concrete entrepreneurial
projects and common management and operational training. 

Early in 1993, over 100 representatives of cooperative movements
in the countries of the ICA Regional Office for Asia and the
pacific met in Beijing, China to discuss regional cooperative

Formal agreements between the ICA regional office for Central
America and the Caribbean and the Confederation of Cooperative
of the Caribbean and Central America (CCC_CA) clarify the
specific areas of activity of each organization, and establish
regular consultation meetings. 


The ICA has a number of specialized bodies, concerned with
cooperative activity in certain economic sectors, or with
specialist matters relevant to the entire global cooperative
movement.  The specialized bodies of the ICA represent
cooperatives in the areas of agriculture, industry, artisanal and
service provision, consumption, fisheries, housing, insurance,
tourism and distributive trade. 

many of these organizations established their own regional
structure which generally followed that of the ICA itself. 
Consequently, the ICA Regional Offices supported the activities
of the specialized bodies.  With basic regionalization of the
structure of ICA, the regional structure of the specialist bodies
gained in significance also. 


In the South there are a number of cooperative research,
development and training institutions which have developed par
of national cooperative movements, but which have developed an
international, and specifically an intra-regional function. 
Experts and trainees from cooperatives in other countries of the
South participate in their programmes, and they act as centres
of excellence in the design and implementation of regional and
sub-regional programmes of cooperative development.  

Such institutions include, for example, the Institute of Rural
Management (IRMA) at Anand, Gujarat, India.  In Israel, which is
included in the geographical region served by ICA's regional
office for Asia and the Pacific (as Turkey), the International
Institute for Development, Co-operation and Labour Studies of
Histradrut offers a wide range of training in the management and
operation of cooperatives to directors and other cooperative
personnel from the South.

In addition, a number of cooperative research, development and
training institutions are located in countries of the North,
although serving members organizations located in both developed
and developing countries with the geographical region.  Such is
the case with eh Institute for the Development of Agricultural
Cooperation in Asia (IDACA), located in Japan. 

Thus, both global and regional cooperative movement already have
a significant institutional structure available for both TCDC and
ECDC.  These structures and experience form a substantial basis
for an expansion in the cooperative sector's contribution to
South-South cooperation.  They may also serve as channels whereby
Governments and intergovernmental bodies may establish stronger
links and promote both economic and technical cooperation. 


The nature of the relationship between the cooperative movement
and the Government in any country is of considerable
significance.  Like all business enterprises, cooperatives must
operative - and maintain viability with the market - in a
legislative and administrative context, which originates in the
perceptions and policies of Governments, both contemporary and

Because of the special character of cooperatively organized
business enterprises, in many countries Governments have adopted
policies designed to establish special conditions in which
cooperatives may operate.  In some cases this policy environment
has been acutely hostile; in other, over-protective or
excessively collaborative - cooperative movement find themselves
co-opted to undertake functions and work for policy objectives
not their own, with consequent constraints upon the efficiency
in which they are able to operate, and in some cases of their
autonomy, and thereby their effectiveness.

The principles applied as general guidelines for their activities
by cooperatives and cooperative movements throughout the world
include one on autonomy which states 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
term that ensure their autonomy.

Governments now realize that, given that cooperatives, by their
own activities, undertaken in order to achieve their won goals,
resolve problems of national concern.  They recognize that
cooperative movements are special but major stakeholders in most
countries.  The most appropriate policy is to establish an
enabling legislative and administrative environment, and work out
mutually acceptable partnerships where appropriate.

The current improved understanding of the nature of the
cooperatively organized private business sector, and the
development of appropriate partnerships between major
stakeholders, including both Governments and cooperative
organizations, has come about in part by means of collaboration
at the regional level.

Regional Offices of the ICA for Asia and the Pacific, and for
Eastern, Central and Southern Africa (but not yet those for
Western Africa or for latin America and the Caribbean), have each
organized a series of conferences of Government Ministers
responsible for national policy in respect to cooperatives.

In Asia the first step was the holding of a regional consultation
on the role of Government in promoting cooperative development
in Singapore in June, 1988.  In February, 1990 the first
Cooperative Ministers' Conference was held in Sydney, Australia. 
This Conference adopted a "Sydney Declaration on Cooperative
Development" and a set of recommendations, including a programme
of action for the 1990s.

The ICA's Regional Office followed up these recommendations by
means of a strategy of intensive interaction both with member
organizations and Governments in the region.  This included
follow-up workshops in Fiji, India, Indonesia, Philippines and
Thailand; strengthening contacts with cooperative and Government
leaders; and inviting written reports from Governments and
national cooperative organizations.  During 1991 and 1992, a
series of national studies on cooperative movement-Government
collaborative strategies for the development of cooperatives was
published by the ICA's Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.

In February, 1992 17 Ministers responsible for cooperative
development (that is, for national policy in respect to the
cooperatively organized segment of the private business sector)
met at Jakarta, Indonesia for the 2nd Asia-Pacific Conference of
Cooperative Ministers on "Cooperative-Government Collaborative
Strategies for the Development of Cooperatives".  In addition to
the Ministers from Asia and pacific countries, those from Egypt
and Ghana attended, lending an element of inter-regional South-
South collaboration.  Also participating were representatives of
national cooperative movements in the same countries, as well as
in seven others; cooperative development agencies in the North;
the Afro-Asian Rural Reconstruction Organization; the Asia
Confederation of Credit Unions; the ASEAN Cooperative
Organizations; and FAO, ILO, UNDP, and UNESCO.

The Third Conference was held in Sri Lanka in July, 1994.  It
adopted a "Colombo Declaration" which stated that:

     "The cooperative sector is as important and imperative as
     public and private sectors in its contribution to the
     socio-economic well-being of the people - especially in
     view of rapid and drastic changes in the environment
     arising from deregulation of the economies in the Asia
     pacific countries - in as much as the cooperative sector
     basically encourages initiatives and popular participation
     of people, democratization, ensuring at the same time
     social justice and economic decentralization."

Recognizing the value of the series it was agreed to hold a
fourth conference in Thailand, and to provide financial
assistance to the ICA regional Office for the purpose of
establishing a permanent secretariat for the Conference. 

In Eastern, Central and Southern Africa a similar series of
Ministerial Cooperative Conferences have been organized,
comprising Ministers and cooperative leaders from eastern,
central and southern Africa.  At the latest such Conference,
cooperative leaders and representative of Governments agreed on
a joint programme for action during the period 1993-1996.

As a result of the series of Cooperative Ministers Conferences
in both the Asian and Pacific and the Eastern, Central and
Southern Africa regions, national movements have come closer
together:  there is better exchange of information and greater
mutual understanding.  Active collaboration in joint ventures was
also stimulated.  In their examination of the nature of an
appropriate relationship between Government and national
cooperative movements, these regional discussions have proved to
be more effective than at the global level.

Moreover, the process of working out appropriate relationships
at the regional level has laid the groundwork for a willingness
to collaborate in many other areas, including technical and
economic cooperation between the cooperatively organized segments
of the private sector in countries with sub-regions and regions. 


In some regions the climate of increased collaboration has helped
to promote the establishment of new cooperative organizations. 
For example, in April 1994, the first meeting of cooperatives
engaged in the health sector in Asia was held at Colombo, Sri
Lanka.  it was estimated that there were about 250 such
cooperatives in the region, with particularly well developed
health cooperative systems in Japan.  Participants agreed to
actively promote the exchange of experience and to further
develop the movement for health cooperatives in Asia.  No
regional or global representative or service organization exists
as yet for this type of cooperative.


Organizations development limited to regions and sub-regions
within the South have been complemented by those involving
cooperative organizations in both North and South, but in which
those in the South have had a significant role.  These have
included collaboration of a general nature between national
movements sharing certain characteristics or experience, and
collaboration between cooperatives within certain economic
sectors or types of activity.

An example of the former is the first Cooperative Seminar of
Lusophone Countries, held in May 1991, with participants form the
cooperative movements or Portugal, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-
Bissau, Sao Tome and Principe, Angola and Mozambique.  The
seminar discussed training and development, the building of a
permanent inter-cooperative structure, and commercial

Examples of recent development in collaboration between
cooperative in specialist sectors have included those in
cooperative banks and in energy cooperatives.

In 1991 the specialized organization of the ICA concerned with
banking adopted the new name of the ICA Central banking Committee
and further emphasized a regionalization of its activities. 
national members were already involved in regional level
collaboration in Asia and Australasia, East Africa and South
America, and it was planned for form regional committees in West
Africa and North and Central America.  Regionalization was
thought to encourage the formation of new cooperative banks,
promote regional collaboration between cooperative banks, and
improved cooperative legislation. 

In February 1993, a new ICA specialized body the International
Cooperative Energy Organization, was established.  The United
States National Rural Electric Cooperative Association has been
engaged since 1962 in the provision of technical assistance to
a total of 50 countries in all developing regions, and acted as
principal sponsor of the new organization.  However, as
electricity cooperatives are widespread only in the United States
and Japan among developed countries, membership is largely from
the South: representatives from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Costa
Rica, and the Philippines participated in the establishment of
the Organization.  its first planning meeting, held in October,
1993 during the Central and Latin America Electric Cooperative
Conference in Uruguay, identified as among the first year's
projects the establishment of an international surplus material
and equipment referral system.