Director's Report

-------------------------------------------------------------------
**The Work of the ICA Since the 29th Congress**

*Director's Report to Congress*

If the years 1984-88 were dominated by reorganisation and renewal for the
ICA, 1988-92 has been a period of relative stability which has enabled the
organisation to focus on its basic priorities, to expand its activities,
and to plan for the future with some optimism.

As a membership organisation, ICA is inevitably affected by the changes
affecting its diverse members around the world.  These changes are felt
most immediately in the annual subscription payments.  During the last two
years significant surprises have required the secretariat to make emergency
adjustments to preliminary budgets.  Nevertheless, it is now possible to
carry out the core ICA functions within existing revenue.  Each year since
1987 has seen a modest surplus in the ICA accounts, and an increase during
the last four years of approximately 33 percent in its total funds and
reserves.

Staff stability continues to be a source of strength.  The ICA's small
Geneva-based secretariat of 14 employees come from 13 different countries,
enabling ICA to operate in all of its five official languages, even if for
reasons of economy its working language is English, as are the majority of
its publications.

According to ICA's development policy, its only permanent regional
employees are the Regional Directors.  From this relatively modest
investment has grown a development programme which now totals over CHF 8.2
million, thanks to support from some 20 co-operative and international
development agencies, who have seen the ICA Regional Offices as useful
vehicles to support their own co-operative development efforts, and from
regional members themselves. Both total funding and the number of partners
have increased by over 30 percent during the last four years.

A new focus of activity since 1988 has been Latin America.  In close
collaboration with existing regional co-operative organisations, ICA
officially established a Regional Office for Central America and the
Caribbean in Costa Rica in 1990, and established in the same year a
two-year project office in Buenos Aires with the goal of transforming it
into another Regional Office if conditions were favourable.

Although the international community as a whole may be transferring
resources from the South to Eastern and Central Europe, this has not been
true for the co-operative movement.  While ICA members continued their
support for ICA's development programme, 18 co-operative organisations from
10 countries responded favourably to ICA's request to support a special
programme for Eastern and Central European countries (ECEC).  ICA's efforts
have been concentrated in the areas of policy and information, so as not to
duplicate the bilateral efforts already underway between ICA members.  The
results, however modest, demonstrate the need for more joint efforts of
this kind to deal with important, topical issues.

=46ollowing a three-year review of the ICA structure, undertaken in response
to a 1988 Congress resolution, the 1992 Congress will be asked to approve
the new Rules for implementation of this revised structure.  The major
changes include:

        -  an amalgamation of the functions of Congress and Central
Committee into a new governing body, the ICA General            Assembly.
Maximum representation per country will be           20 delegates;

        -  creation of four new Regional Assemblies - for Asia-
           Pacific, Africa, the Americas, and Europe - which will meet
on alternate years from the General Assembly;

        -  provision for the regional nomination of Vice-Presidents
in order to ensure effective regional representation on the     ICA Board
(the current Executive Committee);

        -  clarification of the relationship between ICA and the
           Specialised (sectoral) Organisations, which shall all self
           finance their own activities in the future;
        -  gradual increase in the maximum and minimum
           membership subscription fees.

The benefits of a regionalised approach have also been recognised by the
majority of ICA's Specialised Organisations, most of which are also
developing regional committees, often in association with ICA's regional
offices.  This combining of forces can be expected to increase, and produce
good results, in future years.

The strengthening of regional programmes has special implications for the
ICA in Europe, which is still the home of the majority of its member
organisations, if not individual members.    Within its new structure, ICA
will be able to develop a "European programme" to support some of the
increasingly common interests of its European members.  Whether this
programme should be implemented through a separate Brussels office, as
recommended by a 1988 Congress resolution, is still being discussed with
member organisations and the sectoral associations in Brussels.

Implementation of the new ICA structure will require close consultation
with ICA members in all regions.  ICA plans to hold consultation meetings
in its four regions between December 1992 and June 1993 in preparation for
the holding of the first General Assembly in the second half of 1993.  The
new Regional Assemblies themselves will meet in 1994.

Much of ICA's attention during the next years will be focussed on follow-up
to the Basic Values report, which is the main theme of the Tokyo Congress.
In response to a 1988 Congress resolution, and with the financial support
of its Swedish member KF, ICA engaged the services of Mr. Sven Ake B=F6=F6k =
to
coordinate a review of co-operative values and their implications for
co-operative identity and efficiency.  This process stimulated extensive
and useful reviews within many ICA member organisations.  The Tokyo report,
"Co-operative Values in a Changing World", is Mr. B=F6=F6k's own
responsibility, however.

If agreed by Congress, ICA will use Mr. B=F6=F6k's report, along with other
work contributed by his advisory committee and member organisations, as the
basis for a review of the current ICA co-operative principles.  The British
movement has invited ICA to hold a special Centennial Congress in
Manchester in 1995, which would be the occasion for the adoption of a
"Co-operative Charter" reflecting the essence of the co-operative identity.
At the same time, the Specialised Organisations will be asked to
contribute to this review and to develop their own set of complementary
operating guidelines for their individual sectors, thereby strengthening
the integration of the overall co-operative system.

It was also in view of the ICA's centennial celebrations  that a 1988
Congress resolution urged the UN to declare an International Year of
Co-operatives in 1995.  Since then many ICA members have contacted their
national governments.  Unfortunately, while many governments have indicated
their willingness to support such a resolution, none has yet been prepared
to initiate it.  The presentation this year by the UN Secretary-General of
a special report on co-operatives, to which ICA and other members of the
Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Co-operatives (COPAC) have
contributed, could help to keep the issue alive at the General Assembly.

The difficulty which ICA and its members have experienced with regard to
the "Year of Co-operatives" is only one manifestation of a larger problem -
the weak and unclear image which co-operatives often project to the public
(and sometimes even to their own members).  Reflections of this problem can
be seen in almost all parts of the world.  To date ICA's own information
programme - both  communications and documentation - has been largely
focussed on its first priority, service to ICA members. There is clearly
much more to be done, first within the co-operative system itself to
clarify what image it wishes to project, and then to determine how its
combined force can be used to convey the message most effectively.  This
will be a major challenge for ICA, as well as for its members, in the
future.

In general, the ICA's workplan for the coming years will be focussed on the
five priorities identified in last year's Structure Committee report:

        -  promoting and defending values shared by ICA members;

        -  stimulating interchange of ideas and collaboration;

        -  spreading information about the co-operative system;

        -  acting as a catalyst for co-operative development;

        -  speaking on behalf of its members with international
           organisations and governmental authorities.

                Bruce Thordarson