2006 International Day of Cooperatives


“Peace-building through Cooperatives”
“Consolider la paix grâce aux coopératives”
“Construir la Paz a través de las Cooperativas”

Messages from members


The theme of the International Day highlights the fact that cooperative enterprises have and continue to foster peace among peoples, communities, and nations. It underlines that economic growth shared by many and democracy are the two most important factors for peace in the world and how cooperatives can play a significant role.

The cooperative model of enterprise itself is based on procedures and structures which promote harmony within diversity. Cooperatives are democratically operated; their management requires open discussion, acknowledgement of diverse views, and identification of the common interest. They provide an environment within which the benefits of putting aside mutual hostility can be real. They therefore create conditions that promote understanding, conflict resolution, and peace in the largest sense.

Cooperatives have also demonstrated their ability to promote peace through specific actions. Cooperatives have been the model of enterprise chosen by people who wish to rebuild communities after wars or civil strife to create conditions to lessen the resurgence of violence. By improving the economic conditions of life of their members and the communities in which they operate, they create economic justice while fostering and restoring social dialogue.

The global cooperative movement too has shown its commitment to fostering peace. The International Co-operative Alliance (ICA), the global representative of the world cooperative movement, has consistently demonstrated how its members have been concerned with peace and peace-building. On the policy level numerous resolutions on peace have been adopted by its members; however, activities that create links among its members around the world to promote economic and social exchange have contributed most significantly. In fact, ICA has as one of its aims to “to promote sustainable human development and to further the economic and social progress of people, thereby contributing to international peace and security”. A few example of ICA’s actions are listed that show its engagement over its history:

ICA proposed arbitration treaties between European powers as a way of reducing the the tensions that led to the 1914-18 War. It strongly opposed the two World Wars, worked with the League of Nations and then the United Nations to promote peace as well as participate in rehabilitation schemes. It renewed calls for peace during the Cold War and was able to retain members from East and West to promote dialogue and collaboration even during the most politically difficult times.

More recently ICA has assisted in rebuilding communities after war and civil strife. A few examples include the housing projects in Serbia undertaken by ICA Housing and its members, the facilitation of trade links with Palestinian cooperatives, and the space created to assist Israeli and Palestinian cooperatives to rebuild economic and social ties to rebuild peace.

The celebration of this International Day of Cooperatives brought forward concrete examples of how cooperatives are making the world safer and more peaceful by promoting the understanding of people through a democratically run economic enterprise.

Information on cooperatives and peace-building

  • “The Role of cooperatives and other Self-Help Organisations in Crisis Resolution and Socio-Economic Recovery”, paper written by Edgar Parnell and published by the ILO Cooperative Branch, December 2001
  • “Cooperatives and peace in the era of globalisation: A retrospective look at ICA’s concern, resolutions and action throughout the 20th century”, paper submitted to the ICA General Assembly by Dr. Dionysis Mavrogiannis, Professor of Law and Sociology, Secretary-General, Institute of Cooperation, Athens (Greece), October 2001
  • The International Co-operative Alliance During War and Peace 1910-1950, Rita Rhodes (published by the International Co-operative Alliance)