The ICA and its Development Programme

The following text gives you an idea about the role and
activities of the International Co-operative Alliance, the
largest non-governmental organisation in the world.

For any further information please contact the ICA Communication
Department at the following address:

     International Co-operative Alliance
     15, route des Morillons, 1218 Grand-Saconnex/Geneva,
     Phone:    41-22-929.88.88/88.28/88.31/88.23
     Fax:      41-22-7984122


            The International Co-operative Alliance
                          and its
                   Development Programme


                        Mission Statement
             The International Co-operative Alliance
               is an independent, non-governmental
            association which unites, represents and
                 serves co-operatives worldwide.


The ICA was founded in London in 1895. Its members are national
and international co-operative organisations in all sectors of
activity including agriculture, banking, energy, industry,
insurance, fisheries, housing, tourism and consumer
co-operatives. ICA has more than 230 member organisations from
over 100 countries, representing more than 730 million
individuals worldwide.

In 1946, the ICA was one of the first non-governmental
organisations to be accorded United Nations Consultative
Status. Today it is one of the forty-one organisations holding
Category 1 Consultative Status with the UN Economic and Social
Council (ECOSOC).


Working from its Head Office and Regional Offices, ICA helps to
build strong, viable co-operatives in developing countries by
acting as a co-ordinator and catalyst of co-operative


The major objective of the ICA is to promote and strengthen
autonomous co-operatives throughout the world. Through actions
taken at the international, regional and national levels, the
ICA also seeks to :

*    promote and protect co-operative values
     and principles;

*    facilitate the development of economic and other mutually
     beneficial relations between its member organisations;

*    further the economic and social progress
     of its members and their communities

In order to achieve its aims, the ICA organises international,
regional and sectorial meetings, thus serving as a forum for
the exchange of experience and information among its vast


Information on all facets of co-operative development,
resources and statistics are also collected by the ICA and
provided to members and other organisations involved with

The ICA has a documentation centre and produces publications on
specialised topics, as well as periodicals, including the ICA's
official journals, "Review of International Co-operation" and
"ICA News".

Through its Headquarters and Regional Offices, the ICA also
provides technical assistance for co-operative development in
Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern and Central Europe.

Specialised bodies are also created by the ICA to address
technical issues in specific economic and social sectors.

The ICA collaborates with the United Nations and its
specialised agencies, and non-governmental organisations with
similar aims.


As the UN Secretary-General wrote in May 1992: constitute a significant and successful
     element of the private sector and thus of national
     economies..., by their very existence, contribute to
     the achievement of broad social progress...

     ...There is still an insufficient awareness of the very
     substantial economic and social weight of co-operatives
     throughout the world, and of the degree of their success in
     adjusting to varied and often hostile societal
     environments, thereby contributing to the achievement of
     the personal objectives of millions of individuals, their
     families and their communities as well as to national
     economic and social progress...

Excerpts from United Nations Secretary-General's Report,
"Status and Role of Co-operatives in the Light of New Economic
and Social Trends", A/47/216-E/1992/43, 28 May 1992.


The ICA Development Programme has close to forty years of
experience. It responds to the needs of co-operatives for
technical assistance in co-operative development. The role of
the ICA is to act as a catalyst and coordinator of co-operative
development, with the aim of promoting and strengthening
autonomous co-operatives throughout the world. The focus of the
ICA programmes, based on the expressed priorities of its members,

*    institution building, human resource development, women's
     integration, strategic planning

*    influencing Governments in order to create favourable
     environments for co-operative development, including
     organising regional level Ministerial Conferences to
     sensitise government leaders on the role of co-operatives;

*    networking and promoting the exchange of experience and
     movement-to-movement assistance;

*    mobilising financial resources for co-operative


Governing Bodies

In October 1992, the ICA membership approved a new
decentralised structure for the Alliance which provides for the
following governing bodies: the General Assembly, Regional
Assemblies, the Board, and the Audit and Control Committee. The
General Assembly is the highest authority of the ICA, bringing
together representatives from all member organisations every
two years to formulate policies on the major issues affecting
the organisation and the movement worldwide. The General
Assembly also approves the work programme and budget.

The Regional Assemblies take place every second year,
alternating with the General Assembly, and are held for the
following regions: Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific,
and Europe. The function of the Regional Assemblies is to
promote co-operation at regional level and provide a forum for
the discussion of regional issues. In addition, the Regional
Assemblies implement decisions of the General Assembly,
establish priorities for the ICA work programme in the regions,
and nominate a regional candidate as one of the four ICA

The ICA Board oversees the functioning of the ICA. It proposes
the budget, decides on membership issues, takes decisions on
issues, and appoints the Director-General.

The Audit and Control Committee monitors the financial
situation of the organisation, appoints the Auditor of the ICA
and submits reports to the Board and General Assembly.


ICA specialised organisations (for business sectors)and
committees (for non-commercial sectors) are established by and
report to the ICA General Assembly. These specialised
bodiescollaborate with the ICA in practical ways and assist in
making policy decisions. There are currently ten specialised
organisations in the fields of banking, insurance, trade,
consumer co-operatives, agriculture, fisheries, housing,
worker's co-ops, energy and tourism. Specialised committees
exist in the field of communications, research and development,
education and training, and women in co-operatives.

Additional information on the membership and current activities
of each of the ICA's specialised bodies can be obtained from
the Communications Department at the ICA Head Office.


The Head Office of the ICA is located in Geneva, Switzerland.
The ICA Development Programme is coordinated by the development
department in Geneva and implemented through the Regional

The Head Office monitors the implementation of the various
co-operative development initiatives at the regional level and
assists the regional offices with planning and budgeting. In
addition, it is responsible for establishing and maintaining
contacts with development organisations, identifying
opportunities for future collaboration and, promoting and
implementing ICA policies.

Regional Offices have been established for East, Central and
Southern Africa, West Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin
America and the Caribbean. In addition, Project Offices are
opened where there is a specific need. These offices implement
ICA development programmes and represent members within the
region. The Regional Offices report to the Head Office.


In order to implement its activities, the ICA collaborates with
approximately 30 international and national development
agencies and national government ministries. These partners
support the ICA Development Programme through the provision of
financial and technical assistance. In 1993, the total budget
for the Development Programme reached approximately CHF 9