Director-General's Report

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



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                    Director-General's Report
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The last twelve months have been a rather special time for the
ICA.  The new Regional Structure began in earnest with the
holding of the four Regional Assemblies, and activities in Geneva
have been dominated by preparations for the 1995 Centennial
Congress.

Although it will take some time before the implications of the
new Regional Structure, approved at the 1992 Congress, are fully
apparent, there are already indications that it is achieving its
main purposes of bringing ICA closer to its members and assisting
them in undertaking joint activities.

The ICA's oldest Regional Office, in Asia-Pacific, has received
increased support from several members in the region and has been
able to expand its activities.  The ICA's Regional Office for
Central America and the Caribbean has been transformed into a
continental office serving the entire Americas region, and has
decided to focus its work on the economic issues of greatest
concern to its members.  New consultative committees of members
are advising the offices on both policy and administrative
issues.

The adverse economic situation facing Africa as a whole has not
spared the co-operative movement, and the two ICA offices have
found it difficult to attract sufficient resources, either from
funding agencies or from ICA's own members.  The ICA Congress
report on Sustainable Human Development has focused on the
African situation in extra detail since the continent remains a
high concern for ICA.  The Head Office is undertaking active
efforts with both Regional Offices to find ways of reducing costs
and increasing resources available for their work.

The ICA's newest region, in Europe, has made significant progress
during the last year, and now has both an organisational
structure and a work programme which have been approved by its
members.  ICA's Head Office continues to provide secretariat
services in order to minimise costs in connection with the new
regional activities.

The "second leg" of the new ICA Structure is the 14 Specialised
Bodies, which carry out activities in specific sectoral and
functional areas.  The ICA Head Office and Regional Offices have
strengthened their collaboration with them in several areas
during the year.  Joint development projects are being carried
out with ICMIF (insurance), CICOPA (workers'production), and the
Fisheries Committee.  The Regional Offices have assisted the
decentralisation efforts of the ICBA (banking) and Agriculture
Committee.  The Women's Committee, Housing Committee, and ICMIF
have all taken advantage of the ICA~s consultative status with
the United Nations to undertake activities on behalf of their
members. 

It has, unfortunately, not been possible for ICA to provide the
kind of financial support desired by some of the non-economic
committees, particularly the Women's Committee and the Research
Committee.  Members of INCOTEC are discussing the establishment
of a looser, more informal Human Resource Development Committee,
which coincides with one of ICA's on-going (and financed)
activities, and for which ICA has therefore been able to provide
some staff support.

Co-operatives have been well-represented at the two major United
Nations events of 1995, the Summit on Social Development in
Copenhagen and the World Conference on Women in Beijing.  In
conjunction with other members of the Committee for the Promotion
and Advancement of Co-operatives (COPAC), ICA was active in
ensuring that documentation for both events contained numerous
and positive references to co-operatives, which can subsequently
be used by national members for their own purposes.

A highlight of 1995 has been the decision by the United Nations
to proclaim an official UN Day of Co-operatives to coincide with
the ICA's own Co-operative Day in July.  In spite of limited
resources, the ICA's Communications Department has prepared
useful information which can be used on this occasion to help
promote the co-operative message with the media, Governments, and
public opinion.

Establishment of, and participation in, an electronic network for
co-operatives has occupied a considerable amount of staff time. 
In addition to improving communications and reducing costs within
the ICA family (members, head office, regional offices, and
specialised bodies), the electronic network will provide
extensive information about co-operatives on the Internet. 
Collaboration with organisations in the United States, Britain,
and Australia has been very useful during these initial stages of
design and testing.

As mentioned in the Report of the Audit and Control Committee,
the ICA~s subscription income surpassed the two million Swiss
franc mark for the first time in 1994, enabling the organisation
to end the year with a small surplus.  Member organisations who
pay properly, and on time, are a tremendous help to the
secretariat, which otherwise spends a considerable amount of time
on administrative follow-up.  The Regional Offices are also
becoming more involved in subscription issues, which has had a
positive effect.

The Manchester Congress will mark the end of the review of
co-operative values and principles, which has involved many ICA
members and staff since 1988.  The excellent collaboration which
ICA received from the major resource people involved~first Sven
Ake Book and more recently Ian MacPherson~has been very
gratifying.  After Manchester, ICA's focus will shift towards the
question of implementation and how to put the "new" co-operative
identity into practice as effectively as possible.

The ICA Board has agreed that, after Manchester, it would be
appropriate to review the ICA's policy priorities, its present
subscription formula, its relations with the Specialised Bodies,
and the experience of the new regional structure.  Such a review
should help the ICA to determine what elements of its past it
should retain, and what it should change, as it begins its new
century of existence.

Bruce Thordarson