Celebration of Shared Goals: UN 50th & ICA 100th Anniversaries


     A Celebration of Shared Goals: the United Nations 50th
and the International Co-operative Alliance's 100th Anniversaries

The United Nations Fiftieth Anniversary

The United Nations Charter was signed on 26 June 1945 and came
into force on 24 October 1945. By direction of the General
Assembly the Fiftieth Anniversary of the United Nations will be
commemorated throughout the world and throughout 1995.

The purposes of the celebration are to convey and celebrate
United Nations achievements; to reflect upon the United Nations
past and to consider and strengthen its future; to build public
support for the United Nations worldwide; to mobilize public
opinion;  and to educate and inspire a new generation of United
Nations supporters.

Celebration will be undertaken by means of communication with as
many persons as possible throughout the world through expanded
news coverage of United Nations activities, achievements and
issues; television and radio documentaries and public service
announcements; and special newspaper and magazine inserts and
features.  It will also be undertaken by promoting the inclusion
within educational curricula material on the United Nations.  
Special academic conferences and seminars will be held. 
Comprehensive studies and reports on the past and future of the
United Nations will be undertaken, and symposia and conferences
held on relevant issues. Finally, numerous forms of celebration
will take place, including concerts, art exhibits and the issue
of commemorative stamps and coins.

The International Co-operative Alliance's One Hundred Anniversary

The modern co-operative movement began in 1844 when a small group
of persons joined together to establish the first consumer-owned
retail co-operative enterprise in Rochdale, an industrial town in
the north-west of England. The co-operative movement throughout
the world celebrated the 150th anniversary of this event during
1994. The International Co-operative Alliance itself was set up
in 1895, and will be celebrating its Centennial Year during 1995.
Its Centennial Congress will be held at Manchester, United
Kingdom from 20 to 23 September 1995.

Complementarity of membership of the UN and the ICA

The United Nations is an organization whose members are 185
sovereign states, whose total population is more than 99 per cent
of that of the world. It is also an organization of peoples: the
Preamble to its Charter states that "We the Peoples of the United
Nations ... have resolved to combine our efforts to accomplish
(certain) aims.  Accordingly, our respective Governments, through
representatives ... have agreed to the present Charter of the
United Nations and do hereby establish an international
organization to be known as the United Nations." 

The International Co-operative Alliance is an organization whose
members are 204 co-operative organizations, which in turn
represent the individual women and men who are members - and
hence owners - of co-operative business enterprises. These
individuals number 760,000,000 persons. With their immediate
family or household members, if estimated at four persons each,
the number of persons closely associated with cooperatives is
over three billion, more than half of the world's population -
and of the population of the Member States represented in the
United Nations.  To these must be added an estimated 100,000,000
persons who are employed in co-operative enterprises of all
types, and their immediate families or households.

Clearly, therefore, membership in the international co-operative
movement, of which the International Co-operative Alliance is the
global representative organization, coincides to large degree
with membership of the United Nations.

Complementarity of goals of the UN and the ICA

The preamble to the United Nations Charter states that:

   "We the Peoples of the United Nations determined to save
   succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice
   in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind,

   and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the
   dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of
   men and women and of nations large and small, and

   to establish conditions under which justice and respect for
   the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of
   international law can be maintained, and

   to promote social progress and better standards of life in
   larger freedom,

And for these ends

   to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one
   another as good neighbours, and

   to unite our strength to maintain international peace and
   security, and

   to ensure by the acceptance of principles and the institution
   of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the 
   common interest, and

   to employ international machinery for the promotion of the
   economic and social advancement of all peoples,

Have resolved to combine our efforts to accomplish these aims."

The international co-operative movement has very similar
purposes. Since its creation in 1895 the International Co-
operative Alliance has been the final authority for defining co-
operatives and for elaborating the principles upon which co-
operatives should be based. The Alliance has made two formal
declarations on co-operative principles, in the 1930s and in the
1960s. As an expression of how the co-operative movement can
adjust to meet new challenges while retaining basic principles,
the Alliance will consider at its Centennial Congress a Statement
of Co-operative Identity. The draft of this Statement defines a
co-operative as:

      "... an autonomous association of persons united
   voluntarily to meet their common economic and social
   needs through a jointly-owned and democratically-
   controlled enterprise."

The Statement also indicates that:

      "Co-operatives are based on the values of self-help,
   mutual responsibility, equality, and equity.  They practice
   honesty, openness and social responsibility in all their

Co-operatives reflect these values by applying a number of
principles as general guidelines for their activities.  These
include the following"

      "... Within their capacity to admit members, co-operatives
   are open on a voluntary basis, without political, religious,
   gender or social discrimination, to all who can contribute to,
   and benefit from, their activities."

Recognition by the UN of the relevance of the 
Co-operative Movement to its goals and concerns

The International Labour Organisation, which was established 26
years earlier than the United Nations, from its inception
undertook programmes designed to promote and support the
international co-operative movement, recognizing their distinct
character and the fact that they constituted a significant
segment of society.  In paragraph 3 of article 12, its
Constitution states: "The International Labour Organisation may
make suitable arrangements for such consultation as it may think
desirable with recognized non-governmental international
organizations, including international organizations of
employers, workers, agriculturists and cooperators."

The United Nations also recognised the significance of the
international co-operative movement at the outset. The first
session of the General Assembly accorded Category I consultative
status to the International Co-operative Alliance in 1946. Since
then it has adopted 12 resolutions acknowledging the relevance of
cooperative enterprises to the goals and concerns of the United
Nations and calling upon Governments to promote and support the
cooperative movement. The Economic and Social Council has adopted
13 resolutions on the same themes, some calling for close
collaboration with the International Co-operative Alliance.

    In the latest of his series of biennial reports to the
General Assembly on co-operatives (document A/49/213 of 1 July
1994) the Secretary-General of the United Nations concluded that:

    "Cooperative enterprises provide the organizational
    means whereby a significant proportion of humanity is able
    to take into its own hands the tasks of creating productive
    employment, overcoming poverty and achieving social
    integration. ... Cooperatives contribute substantially to the
    common good in market economies, principally by improving the
    efficiency and quality of the economy, but also by assuring
    democratization and environmental rationality. They
    constitute a model for a people-centred and sustainable form
    of societal organization, based on equity, justice and

In its latest resolution, 49/155 of 23 December 1994, the General
Assembly recognized that "Cooperatives in their various forms are
becoming an indispensable factor in the economic and social
development of all countries...".

         This Note has been prepared jointly by 
       the International Co-operative Alliance and 
   the United Nations Department for Policy Coordination 
              and Sustainable Development.  

For further information contact:  ICA, 15, Route des Morillons, 
1218 Grand Saconnex, Geneva, Switzerland. Tel: + 41 22 929 8888, 
Fax: + 41 22 798 4122, E-mail: icageneva@gn.apc.org).