73rd International Co-operative Day

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73rd International Co-operative Day
(Saturday, 1 July 1995)
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Message from the International Co-operative Alliance

The ICA Centennial and the Next 100 Years of International Co-operation 

As the International Co-operative Alliance enters its second century,
its membership has reached over 750 million at grassroots level and
the basic principles which it promotes have been applied to all
aspects of economic and social life on every continent.

The "Co-operative Principles", based on the traditions of a variety
of 19th century pioneers, and last revised by the ICA in 1966, are to
be submitted for review at the ICA's Centennial Congress and General
Assembly, in Manchester in September. The new proposal, as approved
by the ICA Board in April, consists of seven principles: voluntary
and open membership; democratic member control;  member economic
participation; autonomy and independence; education, training and
information; co-operation among co-operatives; and concern for
community.

The new version of the Co-operative Principles is to be contained
within a "Statement on the Co-operative Identity", which also
identifies the basic co-operative values as self-help, democracy,
equality, equity, and solidarity. Co-operators, it says, believe in
the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and
caring for others.

While emphasising the self-help aspect of co-operatives, the new
principles also stress the wider role which co-operatives play in the
community and extend the principle of education to reflect the
importance of information in spreading the co-operative message more
widely.

The United Nations General Assembly has declared the first Saturday
of July, starting in 1995, as the United Nations International Day of
Co-operatives, coinciding with and reinforcing the ICA's own
International Co-operative Day, which was first celebrated in 1927.

The United Nations thus recognises the contribution of co-operatives
to economic and social development as an indispensable factor in
promoting the fullest possible participation in the development
process of all population groups, including women, youth, disabled
persons and the elderly.

In his report to the General Assembly, in July 1994, the UN
Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, stated that "co-operative
enterprises provide the organisational 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".

The UN encourages 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 for sustainable development.

In this Centennial Year, the International Co-operative Alliance
calls on its members to work with their Governments and with United
Nations Information Centres worldwide  to  celebrate the UN
International Day of Co-operatives, and to promote the Principles of
Co-operation in their members' magazines and other publications.

The ICA also encourages its members to inform Governments about the
work and potential of co-operatives and to develop  information
programmes which make use of new communications technology, thereby
targeting young people who will be the opinion leaders and decision
makers in the next 100 years of international co-operation.

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A Message from the European Council of the ICA
to the next generations
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On the occasion of the International Co-operative Day

Organised by the United Nations to celebrate
The 100th Anniversary of the International Co-operative Alliance
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In a solemn resolution, the General Assembly of the United Nations
has declared 1st July l995 the 'International Day of Co-operation'
thereby acknowledging that co-operatives, in their various forms, are
becoming more and more indispensable as a factor of economic and
social development, in every country.   They encourage a very wide
involvement in the process of development by all groups of people,
including women, young people, the disabled, senior citizens, etc.,
with the avowed aim of:

"making all citizens aware of the opportunities offered by
co-operatives and advising and making governments aware of the
benefits drawn by  society from co-operatives activities... "

The European co-operative organisations, which are members of the
International Co-operative Alliance, have decided to take this
opportunity to send a message to the young people of Europe.

*       150 years ago, in England, the first co-operative stores made
their appearance. Their aim was to lift a whole class of people out
of poverty. Their first objective was to sell pure and unadulterated
food at fair prices and with honest weights and measures.

*       A few years later, in Germany, the first co-operative credit
 banks were established.   Their aim was to prevent usury and to
defend the interests of ordinary working people, farmers, craftsmen
and small retailers.

*       At the same time, in France, the first workers' co-operatives
were created, which  aimed to prevent unemployment and to show that
co-operative businesses, owned and democratically controlled by their
employees, could be successful.

*       Some decades later, agricultural producers in Europe,
following the example of Danish farmers, confronted the recession
which was affecting them, by combining into co-operatives, to run
dairies, wineries or mills.

These experiments and ideas flourished throughout Europe and today
are a significant part of the economies of many countries.

The co-operative ethos, which reflected the spirit of self sacrifice
and a wish  to take part in a democratic process and to provide
mutual help, embodied so great an energy, that the groups which had
created the first co-operatives also founded national movements and
then, in 1895, in London, the International Co-operative Alliance.

The ICA now has 235 member organisations, nine of which are
international, in 101 countries, representing around 765 million
co-operators.

Over the years co-operatives have enabled people to face new
circumstances, millions of families have found homes, small retailers
have taken part in the reform of the distribution system, consumers
have benefited from owning their own stores, craftsmen and
professionals have been able to provide their services whilst
retaining their independence.

Solutions to the problems of providing for the integration of
underprivileged individuals into the working world and of providing
social assistance and health care to the weakest strata of society
have been found by social co-operatives.

Mutual societies have contributed towards the integration and
development of the social security system, particularly in the
health care sector.

However, the co-operative movement cannot and will not be satisfied
with the results it has already achieved.  It will not restrict
itself to controlling and assisting existing co-operatives. Today's
co-operators, just like the Rochdale Pioneers, are determined to
confront all the challenges of a changing society.

Even where there is economic growth, the problem of finding
employment for young people is likely to worsen.  We must make use of
every country's resources and everyone needs reminding that they have
a responsibility to create new employment opportunities.

It is up to co-operative organisations to lead and support active
groups which are creative and capable of the self-management of
economic projects, to share in the risks and to benefit from the
advantages arising from them.

But it follows that our values and principles must be in tune with
the ambitions and perceptions of the younger generation. Working
towards these objectives is something which we can and must do
together.

Working together is the essence of co-operation.