Complimentarity: Values/Principles of Co-ops & WSSD

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  This document has been made available in electronic format by
         the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA)
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              FOURTH WORLD CONFERENCE ON WOMEN : 
         ACTION FOR EQUALITY, DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE 
            BEIJING, CHINA, 4 - 15 SEPTEMBER 1995

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        THE CONTRIBUTION OF CO-OPERATIVE BUSINESS ENTERPRISE
            AND THE INTERNATIONAL CO-OPERATIVE MOVEMENT
           TO ACHIEVEMENT OF THE STRATEGIC OBJECTIVES OF
                  THE DRAFT PLATFORM OF ACTION *
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                      New York, March 1995


PREPARED JOINTLY, PURSUANT TO GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION 49/155,

       BY THE INTERNATIONAL CO-OPERATIVE ALLIANCE AND 
    THE UNITED NATIONS DEPARTMENT FOR POLICY COORDINATION 
                AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

     * For information purposes only. Not an official document 
       of the United Nations and not officially edited

COMPLEMENTARITY BETWEEN THE VALUES AND PRINCIPLES OF 
THE INTERNATIONAL CO-OPERATIVE MOVEMENT AND THOSE OF 
THE DECLARATION AND PROGRAMME OF ACTION OF THE WORLD 
SUMMIT FOR SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
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A further indication of the probable relevance of co-operative
business enterprises and the international co-operative movement
to the advancement of women to full equality with men, and to the
achievement of the goals of the draft Platform of Action, is that
of the substantial recognition of the relevance of co-operatives
to the goals of the World Summit for Social Development.

In its Declaration, the Social Summit commits itself to "increase
significantly and or utilize more efficiently the resources
allocated to social development" in part by utilizing and
developing fully "the potential and contribution of co-operatives
for the attainment of social development goals, in particular the
eradication of poverty, the generation of full and productive
employment and the enhancement of social integration" (Commitment
8, sub-para (h)).

In the chapter on the eradication of poverty in its Programme of
Action the Summit proposes that, in respect to improved access
to productive resources and infrastructure, opportunities for
income generation, diversification of activities and increase of
productivity in low-income and poor communities should be
enhanced by means of a number of actions, including :

"Strengthening and improving financial and technical assistance
for community-based development and self-help programmes and
strengthening co-operation among Governments, community
organizations, co-operatives, formal and informal banking
institutions, private enterprises and international agencies,
with the aim of mobilising local savings, promoting the creation
of local financial networks, and increasing the availability of
credit and market information to small entrepreneurs, small
farmers and other low-income self-employed workers, with
particular efforts to ensure availability of such services to
women;" (para. 31(f), and :

"Strengthening organizations of small farmers, landless tenants
and labourers other small producers, fisherfolk, community-based
and workers' co-operatives, especially those run by women, inter
alia in order to improve market access and increase productivity,
provide inputs and technical advice, promote co-operation in
production and marketing operations, and strengthen participation
in the planning and implementation or rural development;" (para.
31 (g)).

The Programme of Action calls for support of co-operatives for
the purposes of expanding productive employment and the reduction
of unemployment, social integration, and the implementation of
and follow-up to the World Summit. For example, actions proposed
in respect to enhancing opportunities for the creation and growth
of private sector enterprises which would generate additional
employment included :

"Promoting and supporting and establishing legal frameworks to
foster the development of co-operative enterprises, and
encouraging them to mobilize capital, develop innovative lending
programmes and promote entrepreneurship;" (para. 51(e)).

The Programme of Action proposes that the contribution of civil
society, including the private sector, to social development
could be enhanced by a number of actions, including :

"Encouraging and facilitating the development of co-operatives
including those among people living in poverty or belonging to
vulnerable groups;" (para.86(e)).

The Programme of Action proposes that Governments, in co-
operation with the international financial institutions and other
international organizations, in order to ensure that structural
adjustment programmes include social development goals, should,
among other things :

"Further promote policies enabling small enterprises, co-
operatives and other forms of micro-enterprises to develop their
capacities for income generation and employment creation." (para.
91 (c)).

The Programme of Action proposes that Governments should promote
equality and social justice by a number of actions, including :

"Encouraging the free formation of co-operatives, community and
other grass-roots organizations, mutual support groups,
recreation/sports association, and similar institutions that tend
to strengthen social integration, paying particular attention to
policies that assist families in their support, educational,
socialising and nurturing roles;" (para. 75(e)).

Finally, in its proposals for the follow-up to the World Summit,
the Programme of Action suggests, in the context of promotion of
an integral approach to its own implementation at the national
level, number of actions, including :

"Formulating or strengthening by 1996 comprehensive cross
sectoral strategies for implementing the Summit outcome and
national strategies for social development, including government
action, actions by states in co-operation with other Governments,
international, regional and subregional organizations and actions
taken in partnership and co-operation with actors of civil
society, the private sector and co-operatives with specific
responsibilities to be undertaken by each actor, and with agreed
priorities and time-frames;" 
(para. 83 (d)).

In respect to involvement of civil society the Programme of
Action proposes that this could be enhanced by a number of
actions, including :

"Enabling and encouraging farmers' representative organizations
and co-operatives to participate in the formulation and
implementation of sustainable agricultural and rural development
policies and programmes;" (para. 86 (d)).

In addition to the specific references to co-operatives in the
Declaration and Programme of Action adopted by the World Summit
for Social Development, there are numerous references to values
and principles which correspond precisely to those long adopted
and put into effect by the international co-operative movement
throughout the world.

The Declaration emphasises a people-centred sustainable
development - this already exists in the activities of the co-
operative movement, an entirely people-centred segment of the
market economy. It comprises millions of business enterprises -
autonomous mutual-help associations of persons united voluntarily
to meet common economic and social needs - that are jointly owned
and democratically controlled by their members, who make up
either their labour-force or their users, clients or customers.

Member-control of business enterprise, a fundamental
characteristic of co-operatives, constitutes economic empowerment
- itself the basis for political and social empowerment. Both
Declaration and Programme of Action emphasize empowerment as a
means to maximize capacities, resources and opportunities so that
all may become genuine partners in sustainable development.

Empowerment achieved through co-operative enterprise is not
exploitive of others. This characteristic results from the values
held in common by all co-operators : self-help, mutual
responsibility, equality, equity, honesty, openness and social
responsibility. The Programme of Action stresses precisely the
same set of values, stating that they promote an environment in
which human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable
development. The regular practice of such values by an
international democratically organized and member-based movement
with a membership of 800,000,000 persons, empowered by a
substantial economic base, is a matter of the greatest relevance
to the implementation of the Programme of Action adopted by the
World Summit for social Development.

While focusing on member needs co-operative enterprises have a
sense of responsibility to the communities in which they operate
and strive for their sustainable development. Hence, they are
vehicles for achievement of solidarity and sustainability at the
community level. This is so because members, living in the
community where their co-operative operates, are mindful that the
broad impact upon that community of the operations of their co-
operative enterprise must be positive in both the short- and
longer- term, and must not negate the advantages they expect to
gain individually. Furthermore, because they own their co-
operative, and can decide its business policies and monitor its
practices, they can ensure that the positive impact they desire
is actually achieved. This characteristic, not shared by other
types of enterprise with which an individual can be associated
as worker, supplier or customer, is highly relevant to the
follow-up to the World Summit. Co-operatives are both economic
and social in character : they are business enterprises with a
deep sense of social and environmental responsibility.