President's Message

    This document has been made available in electronic format
         by the International Co-operative Alliance ICA 
                         July, 1996

Source : Review of International Co-operation Vol.89, No
1/1996, 7-9.

                     President's Message

Dear Co-operative Friends,

The Centenary of the foundation of the International
Co-operative Alliance was successfully celebrated at the
Centennial Congress last September. It provided enduring
memories for those Co-operative friends who came to Manchester
from all over the world:  old friends and new friends coming
together solemnly to adopt the new Statement of Identity,
establishing and reinforcing Co-operative Principles for the
new Millennium.

ICA Priorities
Co-operators cannot, however, live on memories alone. The
significance of the Manchester Congress was that it marked the
beginning of a second century of International Co-operation. 
The ICA Board took up this challenge, at the time of a very
successful Regional Conference for the Americas, when it met
in Miami in December, 1995, to review in depth the ICA's
mission, goals and strategies.  It was in 1988 that, with the
intention of focusing ICA's resources effectively, the present
ICA work priorities were established.  In Miami the ICA Board
agreed that these priorities should continue to drive the
Alliance.  They are:

(1)  to promote and defend Co-operative values and principles
     as now enunciated in the new Statement of Identity;

(2)  to serve as a forum and network to promote joint action
     with the membership;

(3)  to disseminate information about and on behalf of

(4)  to act as a catalyst for Co-operative development; and

(5)  to represent and speak on behalf of Co-operatives to
     governments and to the United Nations.

Finance and Rules Committee
The Board further decided both to look outwards to put into
action the new work programme and internally to deal with more
domestic issues. In the latter case, it was felt timely to
review aspects of the rules of the Alliance adopted by the
Tokyo Congress in 1992. The Board appointed a small group of
its members to conduct such a review and report to the Board
when it meets in Beijing in June, 1996. I will chair this
group which includes Raija Itkonen of Finland, Yehudah Paz of
Israel, and Etienne Pflimlin of France. We will, of course, be
advised by Bruce Thordarson, the Director-General. Amongst our
concerns we will consider the financing of the Alliance,
including the various subscription formulae, as set out in the
procedures Chapter which accompanies the published ICA Rules,
and also eligibility for membership of the ICA.

Relationship with Specialised Bodies
The Board was concerned that the relationships between the
Alliance and its Specialised Bodies were not sufficiently
strong and clear, and that the degree of collaboration between
the ICA and those organisations varied from one to another. To
achieve closer and effective working relationships, the Board
has appointed a number of its members to liaise with the
Specialised Bodies and to report regularly to the Board on
their operations.  Likewise these Board members will report to
the Specialised Bodies about the concerns of the Board on any
particular issue.  As a further step to cement these
relationships, the secretaries of the Specialised Bodies will
meet twice a year in Geneva under the chairmanship of the

Enfranchisement of Women
ICA will work more closely with the United Nations and the
International Labour Organisation (ILO) especially to progress
gender issues. The ILO with the ICA have just jointly
published a report entitled "Two Hours on Gender Issues in
Co-operatives" as an introduction for Co-operative leaders.
The Board recognises that the ICA's governing bodies need to
come to terms with the lack of progress in integrating women
into the decision-taking counsels of Co-operatives and the
Board itself will promote this issue as a priority.

International Co-operative Day
The relationship with the United Nations is crucial too in
propagating the revised Co-operative Principles. I urge member
organisations to find new ways of publicising the new
Statement of Identity in their own languages by arranging
special events in their countries to coincide with the 74th
International Co-operative Day, to be held on Saturday 6 July
1996. We have an important opportunity to make an impact on
the perceptions of Co-operatives held by opinion formers
around the world.

Co-operative Development
All these issues in a sense come together in Co-operative
development. The General Assembly last September adopted a
resolution calling for the setting up of a Development Trust
Fund. At its Beijing meeting in June the Board expects to
finalise preparations for the launch of the Trust Fund in the
autumn of this year.

Development is an issue of concern to Co-operators worldwide,
yet each Region has its particular development needs. In
Europe, collaboration between Eastern and Western Movements
continues to drive the development of Co-operation in Central
and Eastern Europe. In this regard, it is pleasing that the
growing strength of the workers Co-operative sector in Russia
today is making itself felt. In 1992 Coop Network was set up
to facilitate development assistance for the Co-operative
movements emerging from the economies of the former Comecon
countries.  This work has since become a priority of ICA
Europe itself.  The European Council and the Board will be
considering in coming months how best the work hitherto
carried out by Coop Network may be fully integrated into the

Regional Assemblies
I am looking forward to attending all of the Regional
Assemblies in 1996, in Kuala Lumpur in June, in Budapest in
October, Costa Rica in November and not least Dakar, Senegal,
in August. The concerns of the African Continent must find a
particular resonance with the ICA Board. The Co-operative
needs of Africa cry out for special attention. I hope that the
proposed Development Trust can make a contribution towards
finding Co-operative solutions to some of the intractable
problems of this Continent. 

Graham Melmoth