The global, Co-operative Commonweal a long desired dream is now becoming a practical reality: it is a vision of global peace and security, through practical, local and co-active co-operation.
Over the past seven years, this dream has been turning into real, tangible action. Here, I hope to share these developments and give some pointers to the next steps.
These developments got under way in 1995, when The International Co-operative Alliance (the ICA) met to refresh the Statement, Principles and Values of The Co-operative Identity.
Now, it has reasonably been said that there can be no security without peace, no peace without equality, and no equality without co-operation: the vision thus becomes driven by principled, practical co-operation. This vision is fast becoming a practical reality. What a prospect!
The International Co-operative Alliance Statement of the Co-operative Identity
A co-operative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.
Co-operatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.
The co-operative principles are guidelines by which co-operatives put their values into practice.
1st Principle: Voluntary and Open Membership
Co-operatives are voluntary organisations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.
2nd Principle: Democratic Member Control
Co-operatives are democratic organisations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary co-operatives members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and co-operatives at other levels are also organised in a democratic manner.
3rd Principle: Member Economic Participation
Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their co-operative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the co-operative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing their co-operative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the co-operative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.
4th Principle: Autonomy and Independence
Co-operatives are autonomous, self-help organisations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organisations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their co-operative autonomy.
5th Principle: Education, Training and Information
Co-operatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives. They inform the general public - particularly young people and opinion leaders - about the nature and benefits of co-operation.
6th Principle: Co-operation among Co-operatives
Co-operatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.
7th Principle: Concern for Community
Co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.
Source: International Co-operative Alliance News, No 5/6, 1995. I IC CA A, 15, route des Morillons, 1218 Grand-Saconnex, Geneva, Switzerland (tel +41 22 929 8888; fax 798 4122; email firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.coop.org).
The co-operative way, the Fair World Action List
The Fair World Project: For peace, equality and co-operation, c/o The Global Cafe, Golden Square, London W1, Britain.