ICA and the United Nations (1997)

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This document has been made available in electronic format
by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA)
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July, 1997
(Source: ICA Review, Vol.90 No.2 - Annual Report 1996-1997, pp.23-25)


ICA and the United Nations
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Work has continued during the last year to ensure that 
information on co-operatives, their contributions and 
importance to major development issues have been transmitted 
to the UN system. In order to accomplish this, representation 
and document submissions were made to the UN bodies and UN 
conferences including the World Food Summit. Collaboration 
with UN agencies, including the FAO, ILO, United Nations, 
UN ECE, and WHO, was also continued and strengthened. Initial 
contacts have been made with the World Trade Organization 
(WTO) in regard to the impact of environmental issues on 
trade. Follow-up to the UN General Assembly resolution 
51/58, which calls on COPAC in collaboration with the 
UN Secretary-General, to ascertain the feasibility and 
desirability of elaborating UN guidelines aimed at creating 
a supportive environment for the development of co-operatives, 
as well as preparations for the 3rd UN International 
Day of Co-operatives, have also been major areas 
of work in the past year. 

It should be noted that the position responsible for 
acting as liaison between the UN and NGOs has been 
upgraded to Director level. However, the position is being 
carried out on a half time basis given that the Director has 
also been appointed as the Coordinator of the Committee 
for the Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives (COPAC) 
as of 1 April 1996. 

Services continue to be provided to the ICA specialized 
bodies to assist them in bringing their expertise to UN 
agencies and assisting them in contacts with other 
non-governmental organizations. Specifically, the Director 
of UN/NGO Relations has been providing assistance to ICA 
Housing in the follow-up to the UN Conference on Human 
Settlements (Habitat II) by representing or facilitating 
representation at NGO consultation meetings and at meetings 
of the UN Commission for Human Settlements. The Director is 
also participating in an ICA Housing Working Group on Habitat 
follow-up. The UN Section has also assisted the I
nternational Co-operative Agricultural Organization (ICAO)
in their participation and follow-up to the World Food 
Summit, especially with regard to the organization of 
the ICAO Seminar on Agricultural Inputs, which will be 
held in September, 1997. The Director has also facilitated  
collaboration with the agri-business sector, with initial 
contacts taken during the preparations for the World Food 
Summit. ICA is now a member of the International Agri-Food 
Network whose aim is to foster collaboration and understanding 
among international agri-food sector organizations and to 
take joint action on items of common interest. ICAO technical 
expertise and participation in the Network has been 
facilitated and this collaboration will be continued in the 
future. Assistance has also been provided to the International 
Co-operative Consumer Organization (ICCO) to facilitate 
the participation of ICCO members in the meetings and work 
of the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius in such issues as food 
safety, and standards for novel foods (genetically modified) 
and organic production. 

Information has been provided on an ad hoc basis to other 
specialized bodies including the CICOPA, ICBA, ICMIF, IHCO, 
IFCO and Intercoop.

As Gender Focal Point and Secretary of the ICA Global Women's 
Committee (as of January 1997), follow-up to the ICA Resolution 
on Gender Equality has been monitored and evaluated by collecting 
information on women's participation in co-operatives. Assistance 
was also provided for the reprinting of the ICA-ILO Gender 
Package in  English and Spanish. The Director also 
represented ICA at the UN Commission on the Status of 
Women to monitor follow-up of the Beijing Platform for 
Action. Information from the Commission has been shared 
with the ICA Board, regional offices as well as members 
of the Global Women's Committee in order to keep 
abreast of the trends in thinking and activities 
implemented aimed at improving gender equality. 
The Director also regularly participates in the 
meetings of the NGO Sub-Committee on the Status of 
Women in Geneva which provides information on UN and 
gender equality and lobbies the United Nations and 
its agencies. 

United Nations International Day of Co-operatives, 
5 July 1997
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The UN Section assisted the Communications Department in 
the preparation of a press pack for the International Day. 
Specific activities undertaken include selection and 
collection of items for inclusion in the press pack, 
identification of recipients of materials including UN 
agencies and information centres, development agencies, 
and the media. 

The Director also coordinated input from ICA to the COPAC 
organized co-operative exhibit at the United Nations in 
Geneva from 30 June to 11 July 1997 and liaised with 
the United Nations in New York and Geneva regarding 
preparations for the Day.

World Food Summit
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The UN section in collaboration with the ICA permanent 
representatives to the FAO ensured ICA presence at the 
preparatory committee meetings for the Summit. An ICA 
delegation, including the ICAO president attended the 
Summit in Rome in November 1996. Contacts between ICAO, 
the FAO secretariat and international associations of 
agri-food sector were arranged for ICAO which held its 
General Assembly prior to the Summit. 
 
The ICA circulated and presented a statement to the World 
Food Summit. The ICA statement was printed in the Report 
of the World Food Summit which was published by the FAO. 
 ICA also associated itself with the agri-food sector 
associations' statement which recognized the important 
role of co-operatives in achieving food security. 

United Nations
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Consultations have been held with the new UN Secretariat 
staff members responsible for co-operatives in respect 
to improving collaboration between the ICA and the UN, 
especially in regard to follow-up on UN resolution 51/58. 
Discussions have led to the acceptance of the Director of 
the Division for Social Policy and Development of the UN 
(New York) to address the ICA General Assembly. Other 
issues under discussion include follow-up to the major 
UN conferences including the World Summit on Social 
Development and ICA input into the UN International Days 
and Years, as well as facilitation of contacts with other 
agencies of the United Nations family. 

Other areas of work
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The Director of UN/NGO relations works closely with the 
Communications Department in areas such as internet 
the Web and gopher sites, the ICA Data Bank and 
general public relations work. 

The Director is also responsible for administering 
internet access and developing a computer policy for 
the ICA Head Office. She also participates regularly 
in a number of task forces within the ICA Head Office 
including meeting preparations.

Other contacts
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ICA continued to collaborate with the International 
Federation of Agricultural Producers on areas of mutual 
interest. Participation in the work of the Conference of 
NGOs in Consultative Status (CONGO) and the Federation 
des Institutions Internationales Etablies  Genve (FIIG) 
has also been ensured by the UN Section.

The Director has also provided information on ICA and 
the UN to potential members of the ICA and interested 
organizations.