ICA Rules (1997)

This document has been made available in electronic format
by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA)
June, 1997
(Source: ICA Review, Vol.90 No.3, 1997)

                                      ICA Rules

  Draft  with proposed amendments (and deletions) underlined 
                                - May 1997

Mission Statement
The International Co-operative Alliance is an independent, 
non-governmental association which unites, represents, 
and serves co-operatives worldwide.

Section I. Constitution
Article 1. Name and Seat
The name of this organisation, which was founded in London, 
August 1895, is the International Co-operative Alliance, ICA 
(Alliance Cooperative Internationale, ACI; Internationaler 
Genossenschaftsbund, IGB; Mezhdunarodny Kooperativny 
Alliance, MKA; Alianza Cooperativa Internacional, ACI). 

Its registered headquarters, since 1982, is Geneva, Switzerland.

The status of the ICA is that of an association organised as a 
corporate body regulated by the Swiss Civil Code in 
Articles 60-79.

The seat of the ICA may be changed by resolution of the 
General Assembly.

Article 2. Objects
The ICA, as a world-wide (replaces universal) representative 
of co-operative organisations of all kinds, shall have the following 
a)    to promote the world co-operative movement, based upon 
       mutual self-help and democracy;
b)    to promote and protect co-operative values and principles;
c)    to facilitate the development of economic and other mutually 
       beneficial relations between its member organisations;
d)    to promote sustainable human development and to further 
       the economic and social progress of people, thereby 
       contributing to international peace and security;
e)    to promote equality between men and women in all decision-
       making and activities within the co-operative movement.

The ICA shall not affiliate (replaces associate) itself to (replaces 
with) any political or religious organisation and shall maintain 
(such) independence in all its activities.

Article 3. Methods
The ICA shall seek to obtain its objects:

a)   by serving as a forum for exchange of experience and as a 
      source of information on co-operative development, research, 
      and statistics;
b)   by providing technical assistance for co-operative development;
c)   by creating international specialised bodies in various sectors 
      of co- operatives' economic and social activities;
d)   by collaborating with United Nations organisations, and with 
      any other governmental and non-governmental international 
      and national organisations which pursue aims of importance 
      to co-operatives;
e)   by any other appropriate means.

Article 4. Official Languages
English, French, German, Russian, and Spanish shall be the 
official languages of the ICA.  It shall be for the Board to decide 
to what extent each language shall be used.

Section II. Membership
Article 5. Co-operative Principles
Any association of persons, or of societies, shall be recognised
as a co- operative society, provided that it has for its object 
the economic and social betterment of its members by means 
of (the exploitation of) an enterprise based on mutual aid, and 
that it conforms to the ICA Statement on the Co- operative
Identity, as approved by the General Assembly of the ICA:
(replaces Co-operative Principles, as established by the
Rochdale Pioneers and as reformulated in 1966 by the 23rd 
Congress of the ICA:)


A co-operative is an autonomous association of persons 
united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and 
cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and 
democratically-controlled enterprise.


Co-operatives are based on the values of self-help, self-
responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity.  
In the tradition of their founders, co-operative members 
believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social 
responsibility and caring for others.


The co-operative principles are guidelines by which 
co-operatives put their values into practice.

1st Principle: Voluntary and Open Membership

Co-operatives are voluntary organisations, open to all 
persons able to use their services and willing to accept the 
responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, 
political or religious discrimination.

2nd Principle: Democratic Member Control

Co-operatives are democratic organisations controlled by 
their members, who actively participate in setting their policies 
and making decisions.  Men and women serving as elected 
representatives are accountable to the membership.  In primary 
co-operatives members have equal voting rights (one member, 
one vote) and co-operatives at other levels are also organised 
in a democratic manner.

3rd Principle: Member Economic Participation

Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, 
the capital of their co-operative.  At least part of that capital 
is usually the common property of the co-operative.  Members 
usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed 
as a condition of membership.  Members allocate surpluses for 
any or all of the following purposes: developing their co-operative, 
possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be 
indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions 
with the co-operative; and supporting other activities approved
by the membership.

4th Principle: Autonomy and Independence

Co-operatives are autonomous, self-help organisations controlled 
by their members.  If they enter into agreements with other 
organisations, including governments, or raise capital from external 
sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by 
their members and maintain their co-operative autonomy.

5th Principle: Education, Training and Information

Co-operatives provide education and training for their members, 
elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can 
contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives.  
They inform the general public - particularly young people and 
opinion leaders - about the nature and benefits of co-operation.

6th Principle: Co-operation among Co-operatives

Co-operatives serve their members most effectively and 
strengthen the co- operative movement by working together 
through local, national, regional and international structures.

7th Principle: Concern for Community

Co-operatives work for the sustainable development of 
their communities through policies approved by their members.

Article 6. Eligibility
Organisations which conform to the ICA Statement on the 
Co-operative Identity (replaces practice the Co-operative 
Principles) and observe the aims of ICA shall be eligible 
(to apply) for membership of the ICA.

The types of organisation (replaces association) eligible 
(to apply) for membership are the following:

a)  national unions or federations of co-operative societies;
b)  national confederations of co-operative unions;
c)  national co-operative business organisations with majority 
     individual ownership (such as wholesale societies, banks, 
     insurance societies...);
d)  international co-operative organisations.

As an exception, admission may also be granted to:

e)  regional federations or unions of co-operative societies 
     (where there is no national union);
f)  co-operative societies (where there is no national or 
     regional union);
g)  educational, research and other institutions which promote 
     co-operatives and are affiliated to the co-operative movement.

The decision to admit to membership of the ICA lies with the 
Board.  In the event of the Board's rejecting an application, the 
organisation in question may appeal to the General Assembly.

The ICA Board may decide to admit the following types of 
organisations as associate members, without voting rights:

h)  candidates for membership whose co-operative nature is 
     uncertain, but is under review by the ICA;
I)  candidates for membership which are in the process of 
     their situation; 
j)   organisations which are supporters of co-operatives;
k)  organisations which are owned or controlled by co-operatives;
l)   organisations which are members of a Specialised Body but 
     not of ICA.

Organisations in categories (h) and (i ) shall be allowed associate
membership status for a limited time duration, as decided by 
the Board.

Article 7. Cessation of Membership
Membership of the ICA shall cease:

a)   by a decision of the Board following non-payment of 
      full subscriptions for two successive years;
b)   by voluntary withdrawal, notice of which shall be given 
      by the organisation concerned at least six months before 
      the end of the calendar year; subscriptions for the year in 
      which the withdrawal occurs are payable in full, regardless 
      of the cause of withdrawal;
c)   by resolution of the General Assembly in the case of a 
      member organisation's acting contrary to the Rules or 
      interests of the ICA.

Article 8. Rights of Members
Subject to the proper and timely fulfilment of their financial 
obligations to the ICA, member organisations shall have the right:

a)   to take part in formulating the ICA policies and work 
      programmes at the meetings of the ICA Authorities;
b)   to receive from the ICA all appropriate services, information 
      and assistance;
c)   to participate in any Specialised Body of the ICA in
      accordance with its constitution;
d)   to appoint representatives to the ICA General and Regional 
      Assemblies, and to Congress, and to nominate candidates for 
      election to the Board.

Article 9. Obligations of Members
Every member organisation shall have the following obligations:
a)   to observe the aims and policy of the ICA and to conform 
      in its activity to the ICA Statement on the Co-operative
      Identity (replaces Co-operative Principles) as defined in 
      Article 5;
b)   to supply the ICA with its annual report and a complimentary 
       copy of all its relevant publications, as well as regularly 
       inform the ICA on significant national co-operative
       developments, changes in its rules and bylaws, and all 
       actions of the public authorities which affect the 
       co-operative movement;
c)    to pay during the first three months of the calendar year 
       its annual subscription;
d)    to take all such actions as shall be recommended by the 
       Authorities of the ICA in support of its policy decisions.

Section III.  Finance
Article 10. Income
The income of the ICA shall be derived from:

a)   subscriptions of its affiliated organisations;
b)   sales of publications and promotional items;
c)   funds provided through agreements with development 
d)  donations;
e)   other sources as agreed by the General Assembly on the 
      recommendation of the Board.

Article 11.  Subscriptions
a)   Every member organisation shall pay an annual subscription 
      in proportion to its economic activities and in accordance 
      with the formula established by the General Assembly for 
      different co-operative sectors;
b)   any co-operative organisation (replaces association) affiliated 
      to the ICA which is not engaged in economic activities of its 
      own shall pay its annual subscription on the basis of the 
      aggregate business activity of its members, including primary 
      members in the case of secondary and tertiary organisations, 
      unless their members are themselves ICA members;
c)   on the recommendation of the Board, the General Assembly 
      shall review the formula at least every four years to ensure 
      adequate resources for the ICA and, if considered 
      appropriate, shall determine the minimum and maximum 
      levels of subscriptions;
d)   annual subscriptions shall be due and payable in the first 
      quarter of a calendar year and, together with the appropriate 
      supporting documentation, shall be sent to the ICA 
      Headquarters by 31 March.  Failure to comply with this 
      requirement shall lead to withholding a member's participation 
      rights and other penalties as determined by the Board.
e)   any member organisation which, because of exceptional 
      circumstances, has difficulty in paying its subscription may 
      apply to the Director-General for leniency.  Such requests 
      must reach the ICA Headquarters by 31 March and be 
      accompanied by full supporting documentation.  Decisions 
      shall be reported to the Board.

Section IV.  Governing Bodies and Congress 
Article 12. Authorities
The Authorities of the ICA are: General Assembly, Regional 
Assemblies, Board, Audit and Control Committee, President, 
and Vice-Presidents.

Article 13. World Co-operative Congress
A World Co-operative Congress may be convened by the ICA, 
with an open participation, both for members and the general 
co-operative public.

The time, venue, and themes (replaces agenda and procedures) 
for the Congress shall be decided by the General Assembly.

Article 14. General Assembly
a)    The General Assembly, being the highest authority of the 
       ICA, shall consist of representatives appointed by affiliated 
       organisations for a four-year term, and one representative 
       from each of the Specialised Organisations and Committees.  
       The Board may establish targets for the representation of
       women at the General Assembly.
b)    the General Assembly, as a rule, shall meet every second year. 
       Extraordinary meetings of the General Assembly may be 
	-	on the decision of the Board, or
	-	at the request of one-fifth of member organisations or 
            one-fifth of the total representatives' votes in the General 
c)    all member organisations, subject to the full discharge of 
       their financial obligations, shall be entitled to at least one 
       representative with a vote;
d)    the number of representatives shall depend on the amount 
       of subscriptions paid to the ICA Head Office and shall be
       calculated in accordance with the rules set by the General 
       Assembly, provided no single member organisation or a group 
       of member organisations from one country shall have more 
       than 25 (replaces 20) representatives, excluding the President
       of the ICA.

Article 15. Powers of the General Assembly
The General Assembly shall have the following powers:

a)    to formulate and implement the policy on major issues 
       affecting the future of the ICA and the world-wide 
       co-operative movement;
b)    to approve the work programme of the ICA;
c)    to elect the President and the Board, and the Audit and 
       Control Committee, and to ratify the election of the
d)    to ratify (replaces approve) the appointment or removal 
       of the Director- General on the recommendation of the Board;
e)    to amend the ICA Rules, and Standing Orders, Policies
       and Procedures, by a majority of two-thirds of the votes 
f)    to decide on the membership subscriptions and representation
g)    to approve the ICA (delete budget,) annual audited accounts 
       and report of the Audit and Control Committee;
h)    to confirm on behalf of the ICA all dispositions taken by the 
       Board, or by any other regional or specialised body of the ICA, 
       which imposes liabilities or obligations on the ICA, such as 
       investments, borrowings, mortgages, buying and selling of real 
       estate, as well as other agreements;
I)    to approve the establishment or dissolution of ICA Specialised 
      Bodies on the recommendation of the Board;
j)    to decide upon the dissolution of the ICA by a majority of 
      two-thirds of the votes represented.

All questions on which the General Assembly votes, unless specified 
otherwise, shall be decided by a majority of the votes cast.  In special 
circumstances voting may be by correspondence.

Article 16. Regional Assemblies
In order to promote collaboration among the ICA member
organisations at the regional level, and to provide a forum for 
discussion of regional issues, the ICA shall establish Regional 
Assemblies as part of its governing structure.

The geographic area of each such body shall be as follows:

Regional Assembly for Europe - open to all member organisations 
with a head office in Europe;

Regional Assembly for Asia and the Pacific - open to all 
member organisations with a head office in Asia, Australia, 
and the Pacific;

Regional Assembly for Africa - open to all member organisations 
with a head office in Africa and adjacent islands;

Regional Assembly for the Americas - open to all member 
organisations with a head office in North, Central and South 
America, and the Caribbean.

International member organisations may participate fully in 
other Regional Assemblies, provided they have members in 
those regions.

The Regional Assemblies shall, as a rule, take place every second 
year, alternating with the General Assembly.  They shall:

a)  implement the decisions of the General Assembly in the regions;
b)  establish the priorities for the ICA work programme in the regions;
c)  submit reports, proposals, and resolutions for the consideration 
     of the General Assembly;
d)  elect a person to serve as ICA Vice-President, subject to 
     ratification by the General Assembly; (replaces nominate one 
     regional candidate each for election as an ICA Vice-President;)
e)  draw up their own business procedures and representation rules, 
     subject to approval by the General Assembly.

ICA members from other regions may attend Regional Assembly 
meetings as observers upon payment of the established 
registration fee.

Article 17. Board
a)  The Board shall consist of the President, four Vice-Presidents, 
     and 15 (replaces 11) other members, elected by the General 
     Assembly for a four-year term.  Vacancies shall be filled through 
     election at a subsequent General Assembly. The Board may as
     a provisional measure co-opt a maximum of four women to the 
     Board if, following elections at the General Assembly, the Board 
     deems that the representation of women is inadequate.  Any such 
     co-options must be submitted for ratification to the following 
     General Assembly.

b)  The Board shall meet at least once a year.  Meetings may also 
      be called at the request of one-third of the members or by 
      the decision of the President.  Substitutes without voting 
      rights shall be allowed to attend the meetings only under 
      exceptional circumstances and dependent on approval by 
      the President.  Decisions may be taken by correspondence.

c)   The member organisations from one country shall not have 
      more than one representative on the Board, excluding the 
      President of the ICA.

d)	No person shall be entitled to serve on the Board whose 
	organisation has ceased affiliation with the ICA or is in arrears 
      with its membership fee without a valid reason approved by 
      the Board, or who has ceased to be an accredited representative 
      of the nominating organisation--or, in the case of Vice-
      Presidents, of the respective Regional Assembly.

Article 18. Powers of the Board
The Board shall have the following powers:

a)  to control the affairs of the ICA between the meetings of 
     the General Assembly;
b)  to prepare the agenda and organise the meetings of the 
      General Assembly;
c)   to decide on all membership applications and related issues
d)   to approve and monitor (replaces propose to the General 
      Assembly) the ICA budget;
e)   to take decisions on investments, borrowings, mortgages, 
      and buying and selling of real estate for confirmation by the 
      General Assembly;
f)    to be responsible for the appointment or removal and the 
       remuneration of the Director-General of the ICA;
g)    to receive reports from the Audit and Control Committee 
       prior to their submission to the General Assembly;
h)    to appoint, and receive annual reports from, the Auditor 
       of the ICA;
i) 	to establish committees from among its members and others, 
       and decide upon their terms of reference;
j) 	to appoint a Board member to act in the absence of President.

Article 19. Audit and Control Committee
The General Assembly shall elect from amongst its member 
representatives an Audit and Control Committee, consisting 
of not less than three and not more than five members.

The Audit and Control Committee shall:

a)    examine the financial management of ICA in relation to its 
       constitutional obligations;
b)    examine the fulfilment of the financial obligations of 
       member organisations;
c)    meet at least annually with the Auditor of the ICA;
d)    report to the General Assembly, and to the Board, on such 
       matters as they deem appropriate.

For these purposes the Committee shall have access to all relevant 
ICA documents.

Article 20. President
a)   The President is the chief representative of the ICA and shall 
      preside over the General Assembly and Board of the ICA;
b)   The President shall provide the policy and organisational 
      leadership of the ICA, in collaboration with the Director-General;
c)   The President shall meet once a year with the Audit and Control 
      Committee to review the finances of the ICA;
d)   The President shall have the right to attend the meetings of the 
      ICA Specialised Bodies.

Article 21. Vice-Presidents

a)   The Vice-Presidents shall assist and support the President,
      and  shall serve as the link between the Regional Assemblies 
      and the Board;

b)  The Vice-Presidents will also assist the President in the policy 
      and organisational leadership of the ICA, together with the 
      Director-General, and may undertake such other tasks and 
      responsibilities as the Board shall determine.

Section V. Administration
Article 22. Director-General
The Director-General is the Chief Executive Officer of the ICA, 
accountable to the Board, and, as such, responsible for the 
leadership, recruitment and efficient management of its Head 
Office and Regional Offices (replaces Secretariat).

The Director-General shall:

a)    be responsible for implementing the policies of the ICA 
      Authorities and take the necessary initiatives to present 
      to the Board and General Assembly any relevant issues 
      affecting the co-operative movement;
b)   attend and advise the meetings of the ICA Authorities, 
      without voting rights;
c)   prepare documentation for the meetings of the ICA 
d)   report to the Board on the use of finances, implementation 
      of the work programme, and changes in staff;
e)   maintain close working relations with the ICA Specialised 
      Organisations, and provide support as mutually agreed to 
      the Specialised Committees of the ICA;
f)   maintain relations with the ICA's present and potential 
      members, and  submit regular reports on membership 
      issues to the Board;
g)   designate a member of the Secretariat as second-in-command, 
      subject to Board approval;
h)   deal with any other issues as may be required by the Board.

Article 23. Regional Offices
In order to extend the services of the ICA Head Office, the ICA 
may establish Regional Offices headed by Regional Directors, 
appointed by and acting under the authority of the Director-
General of the ICA, with responsibility for:
a)   promotion and defence of co-operative values and principles;
b)   coordination and implementation of the ICA co-operative 
      development programme within the region;
c)   representation on request of members' policy concerns to 
      governmental bodies and the public;
d)   organisation of the Regional Assemblies;
e)   carrying out of any other activities as may be requested by 
      the Director- General, as approved by the Board.

These offices are to be established with the collaboration and 
agreed financial support of the co-operative organisations in the 
Regions, subject to approval of the General Assembly.

The Regional Directors shall be responsible for submitting 
annual programmes and budgets to the Director-General for 
approval and inclusion in the overall global budget of the ICA.

The Director-General shall also approve all agreements with 
funding agencies.

Section VI. Specialised Bodies
Article 24. Specialised Organisations and Committees
The ICA Board may establish or dissolve, and recognise or
withdraw recognition from, international specialised organisations 
and committees in such sectors of economic and social activity 
of co-operatives as considered desirable.

The Specialised Bodies shall:

a)   draw up their Rules, which shall be approved by ICA Board;
b)   report regularly on their activities to the ICA Board and 
      General Assembly;
c)   be entitled to one representative at the General Assembly, 
      who shall have full voting rights;
d)   have the right to propose to the ICA Board themes for 
      discussion at the meetings of the ICA Authorities;
e)   seek to establish a working collaboration with each other, 
      where practicable and desirable;
f)   collaborate with the ICA Head Office and Regional Offices, 
      where practicable;
g) 	ensure that their regional committees are established, and 
      operate, in conformity with policies established by the ICA 
      Regional Assemblies.

The ICA Board may designate liaison persons in order to ensure
a regular two- way flow of information between the Board and 
the Specialised Bodies.

The Specialised Bodies shall, in consultation with the Board,
establish policies and timetables to ensure that at least half of
their members are also direct members of the ICA.

The Specialised Organisations, based on sectoral membership, 
shall self- finance their own activities.

The Specialised Committees, based on functional or multi-purpose 
activities, shall receive support from the ICA, as mutually agreed.

Section VII. Special Dispositions
Article 25. Status of the ICA in Switzerland
As long as the Head Office of the ICA is in Switzerland it is subject 
to Swiss legal requirements and any legal or judicial query will be 
handled in Geneva, according to Swiss procedures.

Article 26. Amendments to the Rules
Proposals to amend the Rules may only be submitted by the 
Board to the General Assembly, or by a special committee 
appointed by the General Assembly for that purpose, or by 
not fewer than five member organisations.

Article 27. Definitive Text of the Rules
The definitive text of the Rules shall be that of the English 

(In legal matters arising in Swiss Law as stated in Article 25, 
the French text shall be regarded as definitive.)