International Statement of Co-operative Identity (Seven Cooperative Principles)
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In 1994, a set of cooperative principles were agreed upon by the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) at a conference in Oslo, Norway. Since then, they have largely been regarded as the standards for the cooperative movement. You can see the principles on the ICA's website.
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 to 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.”
These are spotlighted conversations from this page's Discussion Area.
- How have cooperatives and cooperative organizations put these principles into practice? How have they benefited cooperatives and communities?
- Do you believe there should be additional co-op principles on top of the ones outlined by the ICA's statement? What are they, how would they benefit co-ops, and how could they be put into practice?
Variations of the Cooperative Principles
Basic Principles of the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation
I. Open Admission
II. Democratic Organisation
III. The Sovereignty of Labour
IV. Instrumental and Subordinate Nature of Capital
V. Participatory Management
VI. Payment Solidarity
VIII. Social Transformation