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, Switzerland Phone: 41-22-929.88.88/88.28/88.31/88.23 Fax: 41-22-7984122 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org *********************************************************** 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. ICA AND ITS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES 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). ICA'S DEVELOPMENT ROLE 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 development. AIMS OF INTERNATIONAL CO-OPERATIVE ALLIANCE 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 membership. METHODS 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 co-operatives. 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. ICA's DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME As the UN Secretary-General wrote in May 1992: ...co-operatives constitute a significant and successful element of the private sector and thus of national economies... ...co-operatives, 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. AIMS AND METHODS 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, is: * 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 development. ICA'S ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURE 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 Vice-Presidents. 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. SPECIALIZED BODIES 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. ICA OFFICES 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 Offices. 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. PARTNERS AND BUDGET 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 million.