(Source: ICA Review, Vol.91 No.2 - Annual Report 1997-1998, pp. 24-26)
ICA and the United Nations (UN)
In 1997, responsibility for UN and NGO relations was upgraded to the position of Director on a half-time basis, given that the Director was also appointed as the Coordinator of the Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Co-operatives (COPAC) effective 1 April 1997.
Work continued to ensure that information on co-operatives, their contributions and importance to major development issues was transmitted to the UN system. In order to accomplish this, representation and document submissions were made to the UN bodies and UN conferences. Collaboration with UN agencies including the Food Agriculture Organization FAO, International Labour Office ILO, the UN Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat) and the United Nations and its commissions was also continued and strengthened. Increasing contact was taken with the World Trade Organization WTO with regard to the impact of environmental issues on trade, and agriculture and trade.
Follow-up to the UN General Assembly resolution 51/58 (December, 1996) 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 were also major areas of work in 1997. ICA hosted the COPAC Consultation Meeting on United Nations Guidelines on Government Policy concerning Co-operatives on 16-17 May 1997 and through COPAC provided input to a final draft of Guidelines Aimed at Creating a Supportive Environment for the Development of Co-operatives1 published at the end of December 1997 and presently in circulation for additional comments from co-operative organizations.
Services continue to be provided to the ICA specialized bodies to assist them in bringing their expertise to UN agencies and making contacts with other non-governmental organizations working in their sectors. Some examples of assistance provided include: 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. Participating in an ICA Housing Working Group on Habitat follow-up; assisting the International Co-operative Agricultural Organization (ICAO) in follow-up to the World Food Summit especially with regard to the organization of the ICAO Seminar on Agricultural Inputs held in September, 1997, and facilitating contacts and collaboration with the agri-business sector through its membership in 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. 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 enhanced) and organic production.
Information has been provided on an ad hoc basis to other specialized bodies including CICOPA on matters concerning the United Nations Industrial organization UNIDO, ICMIF on insurance matters within the UN Conference on Trade and Development UNCTAD, IHCO on areas of potential collaboration with World Health Organization WHO and ILO, IFCO on the FAO Committee on Fisheries.
In the capacity as Gender Focal Point, a report was prepared on womenís participation and decision-making in co-operatives based on replies to the ICA Presidentís questionnaire and complemented with information from the Womenís Committee. The report was presented to the Board and circulated to the Womenís Committee for information. A series of proposals for action was included based on information collected from the Directorís participation in the meetings on womenís issues including the UN Commission on the Status of Women (which monitors follow-up of the Beijing Platform for Action) and the ILO Tripartite Meeting on Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling: Women in Management. The Director also regularly participates in the meetings 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.
3rd United Nations International Day of Co-operatives, 5 July 1997
The UN Section assisted the Communications Department in the preparation of a press pack for the International Day on the theme of Food Security. Assistance was provided selecting and collecting items from members and ICA partners, and identifying high impact recipients for the press pack including UN agencies and information centres, development agencies, and the media. The Director also assisted in the distribution of the video news release issued on the occasion of the international day.
The Director also co-ordinated input from ICA to the COPAC organized co-operative exhibit held at the United Nations in Geneva from 30 June to 11 July 1997. Liaison with both the United Nations in New York and Geneva was assured by the Director regarding preparations for the Day including the issuing of the UN Secretary-Generalís message.
Consultations continued with the UN Secretariat members dealing for co-operatives in respect to improving collaboration of ICA with the UN especially with regard to follow-up to UN resolution 51/58 and follow-up to the major UN conferences including the World Summit on Social Development.
Other areas of work:
The Director of UN/NGO relations also works closely with the Communications Department in areas such as Internet development, the ICA Data Bank and general public relations work.
The Director is also responsible for administering the computer network at head office. At the end of 1997, head office successfully migrated from a Novel to Windows NT server and upgraded computers to allow use of windows-based programmes. Individual e-mail addresses and Internet access were also attributed to all staff members to facilitate communication with the regional offices and member organizations.
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 Fédération des Institutions Internationales Etablies à Genève (FIIG) has also been ensured by the UN Section.
1 Full information on the Guidelines including the full text and report of the Consultation Meeting can be found on the Internet at: http://www.copacgva.org/guidelines.htm.