ICA Membership from Developing Countries by J.M. Rana This is the centenary year of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA), an appropriate occasion to take stock of what has happened in its life. An attempt is made in this paper to deal with the growth and diversification of membership of the ICA as well as structural changes and the kind of policies followed by the ICA in the second half of the present century. The changes in the ICA membership and policies took place against the backdrop of the following world events. The end of the second World War marked the end of an era. This period saw the establishment of the United Nations to preserve world peace and security. Several UN agencies including the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Monetary Fund were founded to evolve a saner international economic and social order and to develop collaborative relations among nations. It also witnessed the attainment of independence by a number of colonial countries, the growth in the number of communist countries and the spread of socialist beliefs among most developing countries. There was a revolution in the means of transport and communications which gathered momentum during the last three decades with the result that we now talk of the world in terms of a global village. Also far-reaching technological changes have taken place with dramatic impact on the world economy and the life of the individual human being. The collapse of the communist form of State organisation during the current decade is another momentous event whose consequences will take still few more years to unfold. Membership Growth and Diversification The ICA was founded in 1895 by co-operative organisations from 12 countries. Two of the founding organisations were from third world countries viz. Argentina and India. Aside from the co-operative League of the U.S.A., the rest of the organisations were from Europe. By 1946 when the second world war ended, 21 countries were represented in the Alliance; 15 were from Europe, the rest were: two from North America, two from Asia, one each from Africa and South America. However, the character of the ICA started undergoing a change in the fifties. The ICA steadily increased its global reach in the second half of this century. By 1955 the non-European countries in the ICA outnumbered those from Europe. However, the individual membership of the affiliated organisations from Europe continued to predominate well into the 1970s. As may be seen from the statistics given above, there has been a steady increase in the members from the developing countries since 1951. The developing and developed countries were almost equally represented for the first time in 1969, and thereafter the former were in larger number. By 1994 the developing country members far outnumbered those of the developed countries; the respective numbers being 59 and 42. However, the difference is not that striking when one compares the number of organisations. While the developing countries had 109 member organisations in the ICA, the developed countries had 90 member organisations in 1994. However, a comparison on an intercontinental basis reveals that Europe still leads in terms of the number of countries (35) and the number of organisations (95). The next large continent viz. Asia & the Pacific, has 21 countries and 63 organisations in ICA membership. The individual membership represented in the ICA through its member organisations presents a different picture. In 1994, Asia and the Pacific Region accounted for 65 per cent, while Europe only accounted for 20 per cent of the total individual membership. The ICA also changed from a predominantly consumers' body to a more diversified membership and it increased its coverage to a variety of co-operatives such as agricultural co-operatives, credit co-operatives, fishery co-operatives, insurance co-operatives, housing co-operatives and workers' productive co-operatives. By 1960, the individual membership of these various types of co-operatives outnumbered those of the consumers co-operatives. As per 1993 data, the agricultural and multipurpose co-ops together become the largest sector accounting for 48 per cent of the total individual membership. (They are clubbed together because the multipurpose co-ops are basically farmers' organisations on the one hand, while on the other a large part of their activities are financial.) Financial co-ops is the second largest sector representing 32 per cent of the total individual membership. The share of the consumer co-ops is only 15 per cent. In 1994 ICA had 101 countries and 226 organisations in membership. Besides this, nine international organisations had become members of the ICA. Two of these organisations were business enterprises; the rest were promotional and representative bodies with members from a geographically dispersed region, such as the Organisation of Co-operatives of America (OCA) or World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU). The individual membership in the ICA was over 760 millions. To sum up, the ICA to-day is a truly global organisation of co-operatives of all types. It has members in all parts of the globe. Diverse types of co-operatives with peoples of widely varying cultures and economic backgrounds are its members. A remarkable feature is its universal appeal. The ICA has remained undivided despite two devastating world Wars, and the intense cold war. Policies Since its early days the ICA was concerned with four main areas: (i) Co-operative identity and co-operative principles (ii) Co-operative development (iii) International collaboration, and (iv) International co-operative trade. An attempt is made below to deal with co-operative development in historical perspective. Other areas are not dealt with due to limitations of space and also because so much has happened in this area. (The share of co-operative development in ICA activities has continued to grow since the sixties. In 1993, 67 per cent of the ICA budget was spent on co-operative development programmes.) Some observations in regard to the other areas will be made, especially in so far as they relate to co-operative development. Co-operative Development Eastern Europe was the first ' co-operatively backward region', (as it was then called) to which attention was given by the ICA as early as 1904. A comprehensive enquiry was carried out and a report titled "Backward Condition of co-operation in the Eastern and Northern Countries of Europe: its Causes and the Proper Remedies" was submitted to the 1904 Congress held in Budapest. Finland, Iceland and Norway were included in this study. In the words of W.P.Watkins 'it was the Alliance's first attempt to explore an economically backward region of the world with a view to effective co-operative development.' The Congress resolution requested co-operatively advanced movements "to come to the assistance of the countries still backward in the movement." Not much is reported on the progress of implementation of this Resolution. However it is significant that the promotion of co-operatives in less developed countries had occupied the thoughts of the pioneering leaders of the ICA even in its early years. Promotion of co-operation in the Developing Countries became an important element in the ICA Policies since the fifties under the inspiration of the UN programmes of technical Assistance and the increasing importance of the developing countries, which had become free from alien rule, in world affairs. The increasing membership in the ICA from the developing world was another strong reason to move in this direction. In May 1953 the Executive Committee of the ICA established a Co-operative Development Fund with UK 5,500 pounds. Contributions of UK 10,000 pounds, 5,000 pounds and CHF 50,000 from the British, Swedish and Swiss movements respectively were soon added to the Fund. By 1957 the Fund had UK 45,896 pounds at its disposal. "Co-operative Development in Underdeveloped Countries" was one of the themes at the Paris Congress in 1954. Following a resolution on this subject, a Technical Assistance Sub-Committee was constituted under the chairmanship of the ICA President, Sir Harry Gill. Dr. Mauritz Bonow of Sweden who was elected ICA President in 1960 and who led the Swedish movement to play an outstanding role in ICA's co-operative Development Programme, was one of it members. Co-operative Development Policy The Sub-Committee formulated the following guidelines for its work. 1. The ICA's work will be complementary and not competitive to that of the UN and its specialised agencies. 2. The ICA's contribution shall be in the field of education, training and propaganda for leaders and members of co-ops and not for government officials. 3. The Fund of the ICA shall not be used to finance economic undertakings. 4. A short-term programme of technical assistance, of two to three years will be prepared. Based on its results and experience, a long-term programme will be formulated. The Sub-Committee's activities in the initial years were devoted to exploratory work and to carrying out of a few practical projects such as the supply of a mobile audio visual unit to the Ghana Co-operative Alliance, and the exchange of technology through sending experts to the field or arranging for co-operators from developing countries to be trained abroad. Long-term Technical Assistance Programme The two Congresses held in Stockholm in 1957 and Lausanne in 1960 were important landmarks in ICA's co-operative development work. There were substantial discussions on the subject of Promotion of Co-operation in Lesser Developed Countries in the Stockholm Congress. Three papers were presented on the subject, one of which was by Mr. B.J.Patel of India, who was perhaps the first member from the developing world on the ICA Executive Committee. The Stockholm Congress was also notable for the impulse it provided to the Swedish co-operative movement for the establishment of the 'Without Boundaries Fund' starting in 1958. It also marked the beginning of an intensive involvement of the Swedish movement in international co-operative development activities and its support to ICA's development work. The Congress Resolution asked the ICA Central Committee to present plans to the next Congress for placing the promotional activities of the Alliance on a regular and adequate basis. The Long-term Technical Assistance Programme whose main elements were as follows was adopted at the Lausanne congress. 1. The continuation and completion of the Exploration of the Developing Regions, more especially Africa and Latin America; 2. Intensive Research into problems of the various types of co-operation in the regions; 3. Promotion of Education at all levels through permanent educational institutes, regional seminars and the financing of books and teaching material; 4. Collaboration with the UN and other Agencies; and 5. Promotion and expansion of trade between co- operative organisations in developing countries and the highly developed movements, as well as the promotion of co-operative insurance societies, banks and credit institutions. Asian Regional Office Asia was the first region chosen for exploratory work. In 1955-56, Dr. G. Keller of K.F., Sweden carried out a fact-finding mission in Asia on behalf of the ICA. The next step of the ICA was to hold a Regional Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 1958. The Conference was attended by the President, Director, and General Secretary of the ICA, members of its Sub-committee, specially invited experts from the developed movements on trading, agricultural and housing co-ops, and the leaders of the movements in the Region. Delegates from affiliated organisations in Australia, India, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka attended. Also present were delegates from other countries whose organisations were not yet members. These countries were: Burma, Indonesia, Sarawak, Singapore, and Thailand. The Conference paved the way for the establishment of the Regional Office in New Delhi in November 1960. (The office was called the Regional Office for South East Asia, even though it was located in New Delhi and covered South Asian as well as East Asian countries, such as Japan, right from the beginning. An Education Centre, which was financially supported by the Swedish Co-operative Movement, was also attached to the Regional Office. Establishment of Regional Offices Year Geographical Region Place 1960 Asia (now Asia & the Pacific New Delhi 1968 East, Central and Southern Africa Moshi 1979 West Africa Abidjan 1990 Central America and the Caribbean San Jose 1993 South America Brasilia 1993 Europe Geneva Regionalisation Co-operative development and regionalisation/decentralisation have proceeded side by side. Subsequently other Regional Offices (ROs) were established as shown above. The ICA regional structure became almost complete in 1993, nearly a hundred years after its birth in 1895. While an Office has been established for Europe - a developed region, no structure of any kind has been established for North America. An exploratory study of the Central and South American region was carried out by Mr. Rafael Vicens in 1961. But the question of an Office for this region was not pursued as it was agreed at the All-American Co-operative Conference held at Bogota, Colombia in February 1962 that an Organisation of the Co-operatives of America (OCA) will be formed. This organisation was to operate within the framework of the ICA and in collaboration with it. The establishment of the Office for East, Central and Southern Africa was facilitated by the excellent ground work done by the Swedish co-operative Centre in the Region in the early sixties through its Assistance Programme. Regional Office Structure An Advisory Council with one member from each country was constituted to advise the Regional Office and Education Centre for Asia. The Council met once a year. Usually the national co-operative unions nominated the member on the Council. Later, however it was felt necessary to bring on the Council one additional member from the agricultural sector from each country in view of the preponderance of agricultural co-ops in most countries in the Region. As the years rolled by and other types of co-ops acquired direct membership in the ICA, a demand grew that they too should have representation on the Council and especially, that each member organisation must receive an invitation to send participants to the educational activities of the Education Centre. Ways were found to satisfy these demands. Furthermore, as the member organisations acquired greater international experience and improved their competence, they were no longer satisfied with an advisory status. They wanted effective control over the operations of the Regional Office. The ICA Regional Director had to tread a careful diplomatic path in order to satisfy these aspirations on the one hand and his responsibility to the ICA Director, in terms of the ICA Constitution, on the other. In reality the Head Office never countermanded any recommendation of the Council. But it was a matter of feelings. Similar advisory bodies were established in other regions also. Present Control Structure The Tokyo Congress, 1992 decided to restructure the ICA as follows. It is hoped that the new structure would increase the effectiveness of the ROs in satisfying members' needs and their democratic aspirations. The General Assembly, the highest authority of the ICA, has a four year term. It meets every two years. It replaces the Central Committee which used to meet annually. The General Assembly elects the Board for a four-year term. The Board consists of the President, four Vice-Presidents and 11 other members, all elected by the General Assembly. The Regional Assemblies, one for each region, have been established in order to promote collaboration among the member organisations at the regional level and to provide a forum for discussion of regional issues. They are part of the ICA's governing structure. They meet every second year, alternating with the General Assembly. The powers and duties of the Regional assemblies are: * to implement the decisions of the General Assembly; * to establish priorities for the ICA work programme in the regions; * to submit reports, proposals and resolutions to the General Assembly; and * to nominate one regional candidate each for election as an ICA Vice-President. The ICA Constitution suggests that the Regional Councils may be set up to assist and advise the Regional Offices in: (i) formulating the overall policy and reviewing the results of the activities of the Regional Office; and (ii) serving as a permanent contact organ between the national movements and the Regional Office. The Councils meet annually. Each member organisation in the region is entitled to send up to two representatives to the Council. Each Council may elect an Executive Committee of six members, the Chairman and the Vice-Chairman to assist and advise the Regional Director between the meetings of the Council. The Regional Assemblies are given the flexibility to modify the regional structure as per needs, while maintaining the basic framework outlined in the ICA Constitution. For example, the Regional Office for Asia & the Pacific (ROAP) does not have an Executive Committee. Its Executive Council, however, has 23 members, on the basis of one from each country; this is an overly large number, even compared with the ICA Board, and makes it a deliberative body rather than a decision-making organ. The new control structure is a step towards considerably more Regionalisation and an attempt to satisfy the democratic aspirations of the regional members while preserving the essential international unity of the Organisation. As stated by the latest Evaluation Report on the ICA Development Programme of the Delhi and the Moshi Offices, opinions have been expressed in the Regions that the Regional Offices should be accountable to the Regional Councils and to the Regional Assemblies. This appears a logical step. While Regionalisation has its merits, it is essential to ensure that the ICA does not get splintered into various regional units. In the context of the rapid globalisation that is taking place and the threat to the co-op sector worldwide from the transnationals, it would be suicidal if the ICA's capacity to respond rapidly to emerging global challenges is impaired. An important question in the coming years will be : how to make co-ops and the co-op sector, nationally and globally, competitive vis-=E0-vis private enterprise which is being dominated by the transnationals. The structural questions will be certainly important in this exercise. A related point in this regard is the efficacy of a rather elongated structure for the regional Offices comprising the Regional assembly, the Regional Council, and the Executive Committee. The Council appears redundant. Current Development Policy i) The ICA Central Committee approved a new policy for co-operative development in 1982. The objectives of the Policy are: establishment and growth of independent democratic and viable co-operative organisations, in which men and women participate on equal terms. Efficient service to members, economic growth and social equity should be the goals of these co-ops. ii) strengthening collaboration between co-operative organisations of various types and in different countries; and iii) influencing public opinion, and enlisting the support of national authorities and international organisations in order to create a favourable atmosphere for the co- operative movement and to stimulate its growth. The Policy document goes on to outline the fields of action, priorities and resources for aid. Within the framework of this overall policy, the ICA has formulated guidelines for human resource development and women in co-operative development. The years 1984 and 1985 saw some significant changes in the development programme. The heavy emphasis on education and training that characterised the development work in Asia & the Pacific and in East, Central and Southern Africa was replaced by what may be called a Project Approach to development. The Education Centre in ROAP was abolished and staff therein was redeployed, and reduced. More development partners were enlisted and funding sources were diversified. The development programme was given a new orientation as described below. Strategy and Programmes The ICA's role has been defined as catalyst and coordinator of co-operative development. The focus of the ICA Development programmes currently are as follows: i. institution building, human resource development, women's integration, strategic planning and the environment; ii. influencing governments as mentioned above including organising regional conferences of Ministers of Co- operation; iii. networking and promoting the exchange of experience and movement-to-movement assistance; iv. promoting and facilitating joint ventures; and v. mobilising financial resources for co-operative development. The various Regional Offices are carrying out several projects with well defined objectives. Each project is the responsibility of one Project Officer. The planning, coordination and monitoring mechanisms are in place. The ROAP, for example, currently has 10 projects in operation in fields of Policy Development and Legislation, Development Planning and Coordination, Agricultural Co-ops Development, Consumer Co-ops Development, HRD, Gender Integration, Agricultural Management Training, Rural Women Leaders Training, Industrial Co-ops and Insurance. All the projects, except the industrial co-ops project, cover the entire region. They comprise research, training and consultancy elements. The most recent priority in all the regional offices is to develop appropriate responses to the Structural Adjustment Programmes and Liberalisation Policies sweeping most of the developing world. A study "Co-operative Adjustment in a Changing Environment in Sub-Saharan Africa" will provide a basis for an Action Plan. In Central America a "Reconversion Project" has been initiated. Currently the ICA collaborates with nearly 30 international and national development agencies which support the ICA Development Programme through finances, experts and equipment. Finance The development budget has continued to grow since 1986 when it was 4 million Swiss Francs. It was CHF 8.5 million in 1993-94. No such figures for previous years are available due to non-existence of a focal Development Section in the ICA head office. The Swedish Co-operative Centre has given the most outstanding support to the ICA's development programme since 1960. It has remained a major contributor so far. In 1992 its financial support was 34 per cent of the total; amounting to CHF 2.3 million out of a total ICA development budget of CHF 5.7 million. The SCC contribution is coming down and this presents a potential danger. Achievements and Limitations It is not possible to give a proper assessment of a large programme such as co-operative development which has spanned over nearly four decades. However, a few remarks are made to give the reader some idea of accomplishments and limitations. * As noted earlier, the development programme was initiated to assist the developing movements which had joined the ICA after the second World War. In turn the opening of the Regional Offices and the provision of much-needed services through the development programme increased the ICA membership manifold. * The development programme has been periodically evaluated. While suggestions have been made to improve the programme, the overall assessments have been positive. The Assessment Report on the work of the ICA Regional Office and Education Centre (ROEC), the first such assessment was made in 1975 by a team of four experts under the leadership of Prof. K.F. Svardstrom, had the following to say " It is clear from the investigations made that the work of the ROEC over the past fourteen years has proved to be of real benefit to the member-organisations - the team has found much evidence of the extremely valuable work of the ROEC since its inception, and of its impact on co-operative development in the Region. Appreciation of its services has been freely and widely expressed." (PP. 5 & 20) The last Evaluation Report in 1990 states that the development programme, "with its three main objectives, four priority areas and the catalyst and coordinating approach, seems to form a strategy which is and will be of great benefit to the target organisations for ICA's development work." (P.5) The Report on Evaluation of the SCC Support to ICA Development Programme, 1994 (not an evaluation of ICA's programme as such) rates the progress of the programme as positive and cost-efficient. * Under inspiration and encouragement of the ICA, several countries set up Co-operative Education/Training Centres or programmes in the sixties and the seventies. These Centres/Programmes are to be found, inter alia, in Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, Sweden, the UK and the USA. The former USSR and several former socialist countries as well as a few developing countries, such as India and Malaysia, had also put up co-op training programmes for sister movements. All these programmes have made an immense contribution to human resource development and leadership growth in developing countries. * The UN agencies, Government bilateral programmes and the ICA Specialised Bodies and the International Co-operative Organisations such as WOCCU were, in one way or another, influenced by the ICA to make their contributions to co-operative development, as envisaged by the ICA's Long-Term Technical Assistance Programme and the Current Co-operative Development Policy. When all these are put together, it is an impressive effort. There has also been a tremendous growth of the co-operative movement in the third world, as may be seen from the individual membership of affiliated organisations given earlier. However, it is pertinent to indicate some weaknesses. Lack of Adequate Funds Lack of adequate finance has been a major problem in mounting a comprehensive and multi-pronged effort at co-op. development. As a result, the envisioned plan of the ICA Education Centre for Asia around 1970 to develop research and consultancy, along with training, as an integrated package could not be realised. For the same reason the development effort under the Project Approach adopted in 1984-85, while it incorporates these elements, is rather thinly spread. It is indeed commendable that so much was still achieved, thanks to the commitment of the development personnel, who are entitled to a well deserved tribute. Trade Potential Unexploited The development of international trade and joint ventures which was one of the objectives of the founders of the Alliance and an important element of the Long-term Technical Assistance Programme remained by and large an unrealised dream. Not that efforts were not made. The Trade Promotion Projects of the ICA and the ILO could not produce the expected results. A major problem has been the lack of interest on the part of the trading partners from the developed co-op. movements and their inability to appreciate the mutually beneficial relationship in the long run. In fact, in the years to come the very survival of the co-operative movements worldwide, including those of the developed countries, will depend on the capability of the movements to build viable international production and trading arrangements. The collapse of the consumer co-operative movements in some European countries and the increasing pressures felt by others are a serious warning that something is amiss. In the opinion of the author, the ICA should establish a high powered commission to consider and suggest strategy as to how to build international trading and joint venture etc. and other needed collaboration in order to survive and grow within the emerging globalisation scenario. Members may be drawn from the trading bodies from the national consumer and the agricultural fields, NAF, the finance sector, and include economists and management experts sympathetic to the co-operative sector. Exceptions to the above are the Scandinavian Co-operative Wholesale Society (NAF), International Co-operative Petroleum Association and the International Co-operative and Mutual Insurance Federation whose performance gives much hope for realisation of the above ambitions. Need for Professional Fund-Raising Not being a business body, the ICA did not have and will never have enough funds, through its member subscriptions, to do all that must be done to achieve its objectives. The member organisations must support, each according to its capacity, the needed projects and activities and not necessarily only the development programme, to further the objectives enshrined in the ICA Charter. Also the ICA must seriously engage in a fund-raising campaign by entrusting the task to a professional, supported by a small representative committee. Seven hundred million members is not a small number; properly motivated and approached, they can surely contribute enough to enable the ICA to meet head on its Challenging Goals.