Message of the U.N. Secretary General, July 5, 1997, International Day of Co-ops (1997)

This document has been made available in electronic format
by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA)
July, 1997
(Source: Asia-Pacific Co-op News, Vol.4, No.2, Apr-June 1997, pp.11)

Message of the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan
on July 5, 1997 - International Day of Co-operatives 
Millions of men and women have secured for themselves and their
dependants a life of dignity, economy well-being and expanding
opportunities by joining together in co-operative ventures throughout the

From its infancy in the nineteenth century, covering small numbers of
consumers and producers in a narrow range of activities, the co-operative
movement has become a major global endeavour embracing a multitudes of
activities, from financial services to home care, from agriculture production
and marketing to the provision of utilities and affordable housing.  An
array of services, economic and social, are now available through co-
operative ventures.  Today, as governments at all levels find it increasingly
difficult to meet the rising demands of their populations for services, a
partnership with co-operative enterprises provides a demonstrably
effective complement.  Above all, the co-operative is valued as an
organisation of people built on the principles of self-help, mutual support
and self-management.

As 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, the co-operative is
playing an indispensable role in facilitating the citizen's meaningful
participation in the life of the community.  Its contribution to
strengthening the democratic tradition and promoting social integration is
widely recognised and lauded.

The many-sided contribution that co-operatives make to the life of the
community and to the goals of development and solidarity was explicitly
recognised in the major global conferences convened by the United Nations
in the past five years.  The Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of
Action adopted at the World Summit for Social Development (March 6 to
12, 1995) calls upon the co-operative movement to participate fully in the
implementation or the summit objectives, as well as in monitoring progress and evaluation results achieved.  Governments are now also committed to
fostering a climate favourable to the growth and development of
participatory forms of organisation of which the co-operative is a
prominent example.