ICA President's Review of 1995/96

    This document has been made available in electronic format
         by the International Co-operative Alliance ICA 
                         October, 1996

     (Source: Review of International Co-operation,
     Vol.89, No.3/1996 (Annual Report 1995/96), p.1)

               ICA PRESIDENT'S REVIEW OF 1995/96

1995/96  - A Year of Transition

ICA Centennial
1995 will, of course, be remembered as the Centennial Year
when 1,300 delegates from 90 countries came together to
demonstrate how a truly global social movement has grown from
the initiatives of European Co-operators in the latter half of
the last century.  In 1996, Manchester - host of the
Centennial Congress - suffered major bomb damage. The support
of Co-operative friends and colleagues from all over the world
has been appreciated by Britain's Co-operative institutions,
some of whose buildings were directly in the firing line and
suffered collateral damage and disruption. But for
Co-operators, the lasting tribute to the City of Manchester
will forever be the Statement on the Co-operative Identity
which renewed and reinforced Co-operative Principles for the

Regional Assemblies
The regional structure of the ICA is barely four years old. 
The second round of Regional Assemblies takes place in 1996,
with perhaps a more self confident sense of regional identity
being evident in each case. The joy of our Worldwide Movement
is the colorful cultural diversity and traditions in each of
the ICA's four regions. This distinctiveness combined with our
universal subscription to the new principles is what makes
co-operation so special on the eve of the 21st Century.

As I write this, the memories of the Asia & Pacific Assembly
in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in June and of the African Assembly
in Dakar, Senegal, in August are strong. Those present were
buoyed up by the occasion and by the sense of regional unity.
The European and Americas' Assemblies in October in Budapest,
Hungary, and San Jose, Costa Rica, in November will complete
the quartet. October, 1997, will bring the global General
Assembly in Tel Aviv, Israel, whose main theme will be "The
Role of the Civil Society in the 21st Century".

ICA Priorities
When the ICA Board met in December, 1995, in Florida, it
re-affirmed ICA tasks and priorities:-

-    To promote and defend Co-operative values and principles
     as now enunciated in the new Statement of Identity;

-    To serve as a forum and network to promote joint action
     with the membership;

-    To disseminate information about and on behalf of

-    To act as a catalyst for Co-operative development;  and

-    To represent and speak on behalf of Co-operatives to
     governments and to the United Nations.

Finance and Rules Committee
Furthermore, the Board decided to review aspects of the rules
of the Alliance adopted by the Tokyo Congress in 1992 and
appointed a small group of its members to conduct such a
review. I chair this group which comprises Raija Itkonen of
Finland, Yehudah Paz of Israel and Etienne Pflimlin of France.
We are, of course, advised by the Director General and his
Deputy. Amongst our concerns, we will consider the financing
of the Alliance, including the various subscription formulae,
as set out in the Procedures Chapter which accompanies the
published ICA rules, and also eligibility for membership of
the ICA. The committee plans to submit a final report and
proposed rule amendments to the Board meeting in April next
year, with a view to placing proposals before the General
Assembly in October, 1997.

At its Beijing meeting in June, the  Board put the final
touches to the preparations for the launch of the Trust Fund
and expects to be in a position to do this at the time of its
meeting in Budapest in October, 1996.

The Place of Women in the Co-operative Movement
The ICA will continue to work more closely with the United
Nations and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to
progress gender issues, as all three organisations see
discrimination on the grounds of sex as being fundamentally in
contradiction to sustainability. There are times when the
aspirations and stated policy of Co-operatives do not match
with reality and this has to be said also of the
representation which women have in the councils of
Co-operative Movements around the world.

The ICA Board intends to invite members to encourage increased
representation of women in delegations to Regional and General
Assemblies and as candidates for election to regional and
international bodies.

International Co-operative Day
I joined other distinguished Co-operators at the United
Nations in New York in the week of International Co-operative
Day to promote the cause of Co-operation. The message of the
UN Secretary General is warm and clear:

"In an increasingly globalized economy neither individual 
citizens, nor entire communities, not even Governments of
sovereign states are fully in control of processes affecting
them but whose beneficial impact is by no means certain. In
this environment, the Co-operative Movement and the
Co-operative Sector offer a means, vital to many millions of
citizens, whereby goods and services may be efficiently
produced and consumed.  This can be done for purposes
consistent with the ethical premises of civilisation and by
processes that remain within democratic control of individual
citizens. Those purposes are socially and environmentally
responsible and respect human dignity and the stability of
communities: the central requirements of a sustainable human

There is no better way of ending this Report.

Graham Melmoth

August, 1996