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ICA-Americas Newsletter CONTINENTAL CONGRESS OF COOPERATIVE LAW This event, aimed at co‐operative jurists,  professors, scholars and officials from  public bodies related to the co‐operatives  will take place within the framework of  the XVIII Regional Conference.  (page 11) 

Inside

      Editorial  p. 2    Brazil is getting ready  to host 1,000 cooperators  from the Americas  p. 3    Colloquiums: the methodol‐ ogy chosen by  ICA‐Americas to  generate debate over the   Blueprint for a  Cooperative Decade  p. 7    VIII Parliamentarians Meeting  p. 8    Cooperatives make a substantial  contribution in the region, but  much more is expected from them  p. 8    Activity carried out in preparation  of the Regional Conference  allowed ICA‐Americas detected  the main weaknesses of the  regulatory environment in the  countries of the region  p. 10    Continental Congress  of Cooperative Law  p. 11     The Blueprint for a   Cooperative Decade: Legal  Framework for cooperatives  p. 11 

ICA-Americas Newsletter is an e-publication of the International Co-operative Alliance for the Americas

COOPERATIVE COLLOQUIUMS Methodology proposed by ICA‐Americas  in order to enable national and sectoral  integration bodies, cooperatives and its  members to deeply discuss the Blueprint  for a Cooperative Decade.   (page 7) 

Issue Nº 18 // August 2013  THE 2013 LARGEST REGIONAL COOPERATIVE EVENT The XVIII Regional Conference offers  plenty of informative activities, discus‐ sion and elaboration of joint strategies in  a historic moment for cooperatives.   (page 4) 

Towards the Regional Conference 

 

PRELIMINAR ACTIVITY DETECTED THE MAIN WEAKNESSES OF THE REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT IN THE AMERICAS (page 10) 

XVIII ICA‐AMERICAS  REGIONAL  CONFERENCE 

BRAZIL IS GETTING READY TO HOST 1,000  COOPERATORS FROM THE AMERICAS  DANTE CRACOGNA: THE BLUEPRINT  FOR A COOPERATIVE DECADE ‐ LEGAL  FRAMEWORK FOR COOPERATIVES  (page 12) 

  CARLOS HELLER: COOPERATIVES MAKE A  communications@aciamericas.coop Phone: + (506) 2296 0981 Fax: + (506) 2231 5842 PO BOX: 6648 -1000

 

SUBSTANTIAL CONTRIBUTION IN THE  REGION, BUT MUCH MORE IS  EXPECTED FROM THEM  (page 8) 


{ The Editor’s Pen } In 40 days, co-operators from the Americas reunited will make their voices heard again. This time it will be from Brazil, a country with a vast cultural diversity and with a strong cooperative movement which is reaching important goals as the Law for Worker Cooperatives passed in 2012.

Manuel Mariño ICA Americas Regional Director

The city of Guarujá, a paradise in the south of the state of Sao Paulo, will receive around 1.000 co-operators who will take part in the XVIII ICA-Americas Regional Conference from 6th to 11th October. The conference -regarded as the most important cooperative event in the region- is an opportunity not to be missed. It will help interchange ideas, establish contacts and above all, reflect on the Blueprint for a Cooperative Decade presented by ICA at the beginning of 2013. In 2012, the profile of cooperatives started to be enhanced within both society and governmental organizations. They are important achievements, but they need to be seen in the context of the dominant tendencies, which are likely to shape our politics, societies and economies in the future. The XVIII Regional Conference aims at enabling the adherence of the cooperative movement to the Blueprint for a Cooperative Decade by means of encouraging cooperatives to adopt their own strategies and campaigns to promote it and put it into practice. It is important to highlight that in various countries in the region there have already been presentations of the Blueprint for a Cooperative Decade as part of a preparatory and sensitizing stage. It has also been analysed by the Regional Board, sectoral organizations and thematic committees of the ICA-Americas which constitutes excellent input for the activities to be undertaken during the Regional Conference. In this issue of the ICA-Americas Newsletter, we will provide you with information about the main topics that will be discussed in the Regional Conference as well as the methodology ICA-Americas has chosen to enable debate that will enrich cooperatives in the next 10 years. You will also find a new article of analysis of one aspect of the Blueprint for a cooperative Decade. In this opportunity: Legal Frameworks, a contribution form a regional perspective. We thank all of you who have announced your participation in the XVIII Regional Conference and invite all cooperative stakeholders in the Americas to engage in this important event to make sure the voice heard in October, is yours. .

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ICA-Americas Newsletter // Issue Nº 18 // August 2013


XVIII ICA-Americas Regional Conference

BRAZIL IS GETTING READY TO HOST 1,000 COOPERATORS FROM THE AMERICAS  

From October 6 to 11, 2013 the most important cooperative event in the Americas, the XVIII ICAAmericas Regional Conference, will be held in Guarujá, San Pablo, Brazil. It will boost the Cooperative Decade in our region. The International Cooperative Alliance for the Americas (ICAAmericas), together with the National Confederation of Medical Cooperatives of Brazil (UNIMED), the Organization of Brazilian Cooperatives (OCB) and the National Cooperative Learning Service (Sescoop), cordially invite you to the XVIII Regional Conference "Cooperative Decade: Scenarios and Prospects", to be held in Guarujá, Sao Paulo, from October 6 to 11, 2013. During the Conference, the Blueprint for a Cooperative Decade will be analyzed and key information will be provided to facilitate the advancement of the cooperative

model so that the conviction of its contribution to the security and wellbeing of persons will have taken root by 2020. The purpose of this event is to "Unite and coordinate joint actions among the cooperative organizations in the Americas, in order to consolidate the cooperative business model in 2020 as the acknowledged leader in economic, social and environmental sustainability; the model preferred by people and the fastest growing type of business organization." The Conference is an excellent opportunity for the representatives of various sectors of the organized civil society, mainly from cooperatives but also from academia, NGOs and representatives of international organizations as well as for Governmental institutions, legislators and Cooperative Promotion and Development Organizations, to meet and analyze the actions that

may maximize the opportunities for the sector in this historic moment that brings along inevitable social and environmental challenges, in which the arguments in favor of cooperatives have become more relevant. The conclusions of the Conference must provide a clear orientation for the years to come and strengthen the foundations with concrete actions towards ethically sustainable development to safeguard collective interest. This is intended to help undertake Blueprint for a Cooperative Decade and to receive the necessary support, sending a message to the institutions of the Americas and to the general public about the role of cooperatives as a cornerstone to mitigate social inequality. We look forward to your valuable participation as a part of the most important cooperative event in the Americas.

INTEGRaciON COOPERATIVA // Número 9 // Setiembre 2012

ICA-Americas Newsletter // Issue Nº 18 // August 2013

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FACT & FIGURES ■

Around 1,000 cooperators from 25 different nationalities are expected 

Diverse issues will be addressed in key conferences by more than 50 experts  

Representatives of the cooperative sector, academy, NGO`s, international organizations, parliamentarians, State institutions, and cooperative promotion and development organizations have been called to participate.  

Colloquiums, key conferences, intercontinental debates, forums, as well as sectoral and thematic meetings have been organized.  

Cooperative Youth will be present Aiming at fostering youth participation and commitment to the cooperative movement, the IX Cooperative Youth Meeting will be held during the XVIII ICAAmericas Regional Conference. José Antonio Chávez, ICA's Youth Representative to the ICA

Board will address the topic “Participation as one of the most valuable assets and cooperative identity”. It will allow participants to give their proposals regarding Participation and Identity which will contribute to the general conclusions of the Regional

Conference. Also, there will be a Forum where young representatives from different countries of the region will show successful experiences when it comes to involving youth to the cooperative movement.

IV Financial Sector Meeting and IV Insurance Sector Meeting During the Regional Conference the IV Financial Sector Meeting entitled “Challenges of the cooperative financial sector in the Cooperative Decade” and the IV Insurance Sector Meeting that will analyze the theme “The Cooperative Decade: Scenarios and Perspectives”. Both activities will

take place on October 8, 2013. The IV Financial Sector Meeting will try to establish the strategic guidelines of action for the sector in the frame of the Cooperative Decade. Meanwhile, the Insurance Meeting will answer to the question: Which are the challenges and opportunities for the

next decade? This session will focus on the future growth of insurance cooperatives through the challenges identified in the Blueprint for a Cooperative Decade, with a particular emphasis on the access to capital, legal and regulatory framework and, governance (participation).

Information and Communication: the cooperative message Considering that information and communication are key elements to spread the cooperative message, the XVIII Regional Conference will present a workshopforum that will open with an international panel discussing “The challenge of communication in

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the cooperative movement”. This event will be followed by an interchange space where participants will be able to discuss the real need for a strategic management so as to position cooperatives as a successful model.

   

For more information and to register on-line visit the Conference website.

ICA-Americas Newsletter // Issue Nº 18 // August 2013


Gender Equity Regional Committee (CREG): Re-defining the role of Gender Equity to achieve the Challenge 2020 The IX Meeting of Gender Equity will be held on October 8, in the framework of the XVIII ICAAmericas Regional Conference. The Meeting will reunite Gender, Cooperatives and Competitiveness experts to examine the possibilities of providing clear orientation for the years to come so that cooperatives can be acknowledged as the leaders in economic, social and environmental sustainability. Dame Pauline Green, ICA President will deliver the opening

speech with the conference: “The Role of Women in the Blueprint for a Cooperative Decade”. Later, a group of experts and cooperative delegates will take part in a dynamic panel on the “Interconnections between women empowerment, participation and governance”. It will show the different approaches about the future direction of Gender Equity within cooperatives, to reach actual social inclusion. The harmful effects of gender

prejudice will also be address as well as the need to question the current processes regarding participation and governance. Actions will be proposed to achieve objective processes and sound governance systems in the work done by cooperatives. To guarantee gender equality it is necessary to have committed leadership and transparency in the board. Cooperatives can and must have a leading role in the challenge of implementing better gender practices.

IV Meeting of Institutes for Cooperative Promotion, Development, Supervision and Credit On Wednesday 9th, October the IV Meeting of Institutes for Cooperative Promotion, Development, Supervision and Credit will take place, in the framework of the Regional Conference. At the previous meeting, held in Panama in May 2012, the proposal of ICA-Americas for the creation of a Network of Institutes for Cooperative Promotion, Development, Supervision and Credit was welcomed. In addition, the Coordination Committee was created, having as its main function the proposal of documents to formalize the Network. As a result, the IV Meeting aims at promoting the exchange of ideas for the elaboration of the rules of operation of the Network and an agreed action plan for the

implementation of actions with the objective of strengthening the Network and the cooperative sector in the continent. This Network will have as a reference the text of the Framework Law for Cooperatives in Latin America and will promote its adoption in the legislation of each of the countries in the region; ensuring the homogenization of criteria but taking into account the economic and social nature of each country. The Network will promote the ongoing exchange of experiences, information, and communication among the Institutes in the region. ICA President, Dame Pauline Green will open this IV Meeting with a presentation on the Blue-

ICA-Americas Newsletter // Issue Nº 18 // August 2013

print for a Cooperative Decade. The President of ICA-Americas, Mr. Ramón Imperial will present the integration scheme of the International Cooperative Alliance. ICA-Americas Regional Director, Mr. Manuel Marino, will share a comparison chart between the Framework Law for Cooperatives in Latin America (which has been used by ICA-Americas and the cooperative movement in the region as an input for updating cooperative legislation) and the Framework Law approved by the PARLATINO at its General Assembly held on November 30th, 2012 in Panama. Last but not least, the formal aspects of the Network will be discussed.

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Training, inter-cooperation and incidence: important themes for the Regional Conference IV MEETING OF COOPERATIVE EDUCATION The Fifth Cooperative Principle establishes that cooperatives must responsibly implement training programs aimed at cooperatives and opinion leaders about the “nature and benefits” of cooperation. In the IV Meeting of Cooperative Education, the Model of Education for cooperatives in the region created by ICA-Americas will be presented and discussed. INCIDENCE FORUM The objective of this forum is to promote the reinforcement of the capacity of proposal and response of co-operators in incidence processes so as to strengthen legal frameworks in their countries. To

this end, the following themes will be addressed: Political Incidence from cooperatives to governmental institutions; cooperative integration to generate public policies; processes of incidence; and results achieved in this region. INTEGRATION FORUM Cooperatives have to endeavour to establish shared business strategies, considering the possibility of managing them at a national and/ or international scale. For this reason, in this forum cooperative integration will be promoted as a competitive advantage for economic and social development. The main themes will be: The power of integration for cooperative success; Cooperative Integration for political incidence; and

the presentation of two successful experiences on cooperative integration. CONSUMER COOPERATIVES SEMINAR Consumer cooperatives are an excellent option for their members to lower prices of daily consumer goods. At present, most cooperators around the world buy their products from noncooperative supermarkets, which give more power to capitalism and leave the Social Economy behind. In this seminar, integration with the consumer sector will be sought as well as the promotion of the creation of such cooperatives in cities or countries where they do not exist.

Seminars on agriculture, worker, and health cooperatives The challenges and demands for sustainability of cooperative health services will be analysed by cooperators from the Americas in a specialized seminar which will take place on October 9, from 9 to 12:30 p.m., during the XVIII ICAAmericas Regional Conference. Prominent leaders from several countries of the region will take part in a panel on sustainability of health cooperatives and a round table on the possibilities of interchanging services among cooperatives in the health sector. There is no doubt that public health is one of the trending topics in the demonstrations that occurred this year in several major cities in Bra-

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zil. This is an appropriate framework in which UNIMED wants to present a new public-private partnership project for hospital management and health assistance. The agricultural sector will also have its own seminar to discuss how to act faced to the challenge of growth with social inclusion. Successful stories of export business strategies will be analysed, taking into account the present conditions in the region -trade liberalization and the promotion of agricultural export. The possibility of establishing relationships with consumer cooperatives will be studied. Representatives from consumer cooperatives and the productive sector

will participate in the debate. At the end of the seminar, there will be a meeting of cooperatives interested in the Agricultural Cooperative´s Network of the Americas, to discuss and define its role. Worker cooperatives from the region will also share experiences in a dedicated seminar, which will include a discussion panel focused on the regulatory frameworks of the countries. Obstacles and opportunities for the growth of worker cooperatives in the current context of the Americas will also be revised. This sectoral seminar will also include a round table on different housing cooperative programs.

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COLLOQUIUMS: THE METHODOLOGY CHOSEN BY ICA-AMERICAS TO GENERATE DEBATE OVER THE BLUEPRINT FOR A COOPERATIVE DECADE

The ambitious Blueprint for a Cooperative Decade calls for the collaboration and the support of the whole cooperative movement. The Blueprint needs to be nurtured from a regional, national and/or sectoral viewpoint to enable an active adoption of it. The XVIII ICA-Americas Regional Conference will apply the methodology of colloquiums so that cooperative integration bodies at national and sectoral level, grassroot cooperatives and their members discuss at length this Blueprint.

Colloquiums are a crucial moment in which co-operators from different countries and sectors reunite. They are a privileged space to interchange criteria, opinions and assumptions on the adoption of the Blueprint at the different organization levels, namely national, sectoral and inter-sectoral. ICA-Americas does not seek compulsory agreement nor obeisance. It does seek general guidance, to be followed and adapted to particular circumstances. The colloquiums will promote

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participation of the delegates in the analysis of four key issues that are part and parcel of cooperative businesses: ■

Identity

Participation and governance

Sustainability

Capital

Legal Frameworks are also an integral part of cooperatives but will be addressed at the Continental Congress of Cooperative Law, which will be held during the XVIII Regional Conference, as well.

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VIII PARLIAMENTARIANS MEETING  The VIII Parliamentarian Meeting will be held during the celebration of the ICA-Americas Regional Conference in Guarujá, Brazil, on October 10, 2013. In this opportunity Parliamentarians will be encouraged to highlight the importance of the fourth strategic initiative of the ICA Blueprint for a Cooperative Decade “Legal Framework”. It seeks a proper understanding by governments and lawmakers of the economic and social benefits

the co-operative model can bring about, and an appropriate legal framework which takes these benefits into account and speaks to a broader diversity of ownership forms than it is currently the case.

Legal Framework; and Capital.

ICA President, Dame Pauline Green, will be opening this activity with a presentation of the Blueprint, explaining the five intertwining themes of the Blueprint strategy and its objectives: Participation; Sustainability; Identity;

After the presentations, there will be time for the interchange of opinions which will provide input to elaborate the conclusions and recommendations to be included at the Final Declaration of the Conference. 

The formal aspects of the Parliamentarians Network the progress made by the Promotion Commission and the elaboration of the Rules for the organization will be also discussed.

COOPERATIVES MAKE A SUBSTANTIAL CONTRIBUTION IN THE REGION, BUT MUCH MORE IS EXPECTED FROM THEM   By Carlos Heller, Coordinator of the Network of Parliamentarians who support cooperatives in the Americas During the VII Parliamentarians Meeting of ICA-Americas, which took place in Panama on May 30, 2012, it was decided to welcome the proposal of ICA-Americas and of the Latin American Parliament regarding the creation of the Network of Parliamentarians who support Cooperatives in the Americas. With that objective in mind, a Promotion Commission of that Network was created, with the commitment of promoting the constitution of National Networks in the countries of the region. It was intended that National Parliaments declared their interest and gave legal support to these National Networks.

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As it was established, the Promotion Commission of the Continental Network has boosted the conformation of National Networks of Parliamentarians and has promoted individual membership of parliamentarians. Several countries have already constituted their National Networks, so is the case of Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay. The Argentinean Network has made significant progress in the institutional and operational aspects and is developing intense work in the National Parliament and the Provincial Legislatures, interacting with the cooperative movement. The Senate and the House of Representatives of Argentina

declared the Parliamentarians Network of the Americas of “Parliamentary Interest”, authorizing the operation of this Network in the delegation of Argentina at the Latin American Parliament. Several dozens of legislators in the continent have directly adhered to the Network. It is worth mentioning that the Promotion Commission was invited to participate in the XVIII Meeting of the Commission of Economic Affairs, Social Debt and Regional Development of the Latin American Parliament held in Buenos Aires. The VIII Parliamentarians Meeting is an excellent opportunity to

ICA-Americas Newsletter // Issue Nº 18 // August 2013


continue advancing in the conformation of the Continental Network. We intend to discuss about a Proposal of Rules of Operation for the Parliamentarians Network of the Americas, in order to institutionalize its activity, as a way to put into practice the intentions of the cooperation agreement signed by the Parlatino and ICAAmericas in 2012. Those objectives were: ■

To consult and to interchange information to increase cooperation and joint activities that benefit the cooperative sector in legislative instances

To influence policies of national, regional and local governments for the development of the cooperative sector

To spread legislative reforms so as to enable the establishment of suitable legal frameworks for the development of cooperatives.

To promote the creation of commissions of cooperatives at the national parliaments.

In the current international context, the developed world is having difficulty incoming out from the deep crisis that started back in 2007. The level of unemployment of many countries is chilling. Pay cuts and a leap backwards cuts in the in the Welfare State are now customary. The global crisis reveals the exhaustion of a capitalist system, based on profit and speculation, being incapable of giving valid answers to society. Although Latin America cannot escape the global crisis, its performance has been relatively bet-

ter than in other worldwide crises. Certain economic results and the effectiveness of particular anti -cyclical policies were attentively followed by political and social leaders worldwide. Nevertheless, we have to be careful. The modifications that are coming in the monetary policies of the central countries, the latent risks of over indebtedness of those economies, the deceleration of growth in BRIC countries, the uncertainty on the future evolution of the prices of raw materials; they are all threats for the future of Latin American in the short and medium term. New public policies will be necessary to maintain economic growth, employment rate and social inclusion. Fortunately, several countries in Latin America are developing alternative strategies of thought and action. States are being reconstructed with a new promoter and comprehensive role. National production and employment are encouraged. Effective experiences of social inclusion policies are ap-

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plied. There is progress in regional integration mechanisms with autonomy from central countries. Cooperatives and Social Economy as a whole, make a contribution to these new styles of development which are people-centered, democratic, inclusive and promote social equity. This contribution must be enhanced, even more when the above mentioned risks become more tangible. While moving towards a breaking -up with the neoliberal legacy, the contribution of cooperatives and social economy is being recognized in the legal system and Constitutions in the countries of the region. Cooperatives make a substantial contribution in the region but much more is expected from them. Therefore, the work of national parliamentarians and their approach to cooperative organizations is crucial. The VIII Parliamentarians Meeting means, undoubtedly, a milestone to follow this strategic orientation.

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ACTIVITY CARRIED OUT IN PREPARATION OF THE REGIONAL CONFERENCE ALLOWED ICAAMERICAS DETECTED THE MAIN WEAKNESSES OF THE REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT IN THE COUNTRIES OF THE REGION

The Sectoral Organizations and Thematic Committees’ Workshop, carried out in Roatán Island, Honduras on June 3-4, worked as an introductory activity for the upcoming XVII ICA-Americas Regional Conference. Almost twenty representatives from ICA-Americas Sectoral Organizations and Thematic Committees participated in the activity: Gender Equality Regional Committee (CREG), Youth Regional Committee, Financial Cooperatives of the Americas (COFIA), International Organisation of Industrial, Artisanal and Service Producers’ Co-operatives for the Americas (CICOPAAmericas) and members of the Regional Board from Jamaica,

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United States, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Brazil, El Salvador, Colombia, Panama, Argentina and Paraguay. The objective of the workshop was to analyse the Blueprint for a Cooperative Decade and to elaborate viable proposals to put it into practice. During the event, it was highlighted that cooperatives already contribute to addressing pressing global problems and how, with the adequate support and better understanding and recognition of the model, its contribution could be maximized. One of the highlights of the XVIII Regional Conference will be the Continental Congress of Coopera-

tive Law. During the workshop the main weaknesses of the countries in terms of cooperative laws were discussed. There are internal and external challenges to co-ops. In the former we can mention the following aspects: ■

Funding: it is a problem of great importance, fundamentally regarding the issue of enabling cooperatives to overcome their difficulties to be capitalized and, at the same time, keep their capital level stable.

Organization: flexibility is necessary to allow intercooperation among cooperatives and relationships with

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other types of enterprises to have an effective presence in the market. ■

Member-owners: find ways to ensure effective relationships with cooperative members to guarantee the loyalty and commitment with the cooperative

With regard to the external aspects, cooperatives face the challenge of the recognition of their nature as cooperatives and a legal framework adequate to their distinctive features. It is also important to speed up the procedure to create cooperatives removing obstacles and bureaucratic requirements.

Cooperative Legislation has to preserve the inner nature of the organizations and, at the same time, allow them to perform efficiently in the environment of competitive and open economies in which they operate. To this end, the cooperative movement needs to be involved in defining suitable regulatory environments. The participation of cooperatives is the best guarantee in order to obtain adequate legal frameworks, according to the objectives and aspirations of the cooperative sector. JOINT EFFORTS ICA-Americas does an extensive work towards the updating of cooperative legislation in Latin

American countries, in order to create a legal framework which promotes cooperative growth. An example of the above mentioned is the agreement signed by ICA-Americas and the Latin American Parliament (PARLATINO for its acronym in Spanish) to boost cooperatives in the region. The PARLATINO and ICAAmericas, signed an agreement of cooperation to work together, keep informed and support one another in the pursuit of institutional objectives to benefit cooperatives in this region of the world. Through this initiative both parties seek the development of cooperatives in Latin America.

CONTINENTAL CONGRESS OF COOPERATIVE LAW  During the Regional Conference, the Continental Congress of Cooperative Law will also take place. This event is primarily aimed at co-operative jurists from the continent, professors, scholars in the area and officials from public bodies related to the cooperative sector. The objective of this Congress is to return to the path marked by previous events, which paved the way for the consolidation of the co-operative act, co-operative law and the co-operative principles as juridical principles. The Uruguayan Lawyer Sergio Reyes wrote a preparatory document that will be very useful to those interested in participating in the debate. The article: The

 

American Cooperative Law in Congress develops the origin and evolution of the cooperative law in the world with a particular focus in Latin America. At the same time, there is a reference to international regulation in the field.

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The Program and the rules of the Continental Congress of Cooperative Law can be downloaded here.

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Towards the Continental Congress of Cooperative Law

THE BLUEPRINT FOR A COOPERATIVE DECADE: LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR COOPERATIVES By Dante Cracogna* Within the five main objectives established by the International Cooperative Alliance for the Cooperative Decade there is one whose significance is particularly relevant for the countries in this continent: “to ensure supportive legal frameworks for co-operative growth”. There is so much emphasis placed on this issue that at the Extraordinary Assembly held last year in Manchester celebrating the closure of the International Year of CooperativesICA decided the creation of a committee specifically dedicated to cooperative legislation. ICAAmericas is working with exactly the same intention. Let us remember what W.P. Watkins, former ICA Director General, wrote in 1952 in the commemoration of the centenary of the first cooperative law in the world (the English Industrial and Provident Societies Act) “Authentic cooperation takes roots in areas not reached by the State. Cooperatives are not created by law. However, without an appropriate legal framework, it is impossible to develop a sound cooperative system.” (W.P. Watkins, Preface to International Handbook of Co-operative Legislation). Thus, placing great impor-

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tance on cooperative legislation is never an exaggeration in our world today. The United Nations Assembly highlighted the importance of the promotion of cooperatives for

economic and social development in its Resolution 56/114. It stressed the importance of the creation of a favourable environment for the development of cooperatives through adequate legis-

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lation and public policies. In a similar way, but with greater emphasis, the International Labour Organization (ILO) expressed a similar stance with its Recommendation 193 where precise guidelines were presented for legislation in this field. Currently, all countries in the continent have legislation on cooperatives and in several cases their national constitutions include references to them. However, it cannot be said that the objective of having legislation supporting the development of cooperatives has been reached. Various countries exclude cooperatives from certain activities, such as banking and insurance. In these cases they are treated differently from profit-oriented enterprises. This means cooperatives are discriminated. This situation cannot be explained in legal or economic terms since in several countries cooperatives successfully undertake these activities competing with mainstream companies or with state companies. On the other hand, is often the case that the legal constitution of a cooperatives and their subsequent recognition as legal persons is subject to an administrative decision on a virtually discretionary basis with few or no resources that guarantee the control and review of that measure. In other cases, cooperatives are subject to a tax treatment which equals them with lucrative business, without taking into account the peculiar nature that character-

izes them. Therefore, giving an equal treatment to enterprises that are different, cooperatives are at a disadvantage in relation to other forms of economic organization. No less serious is the consideration of cooperatives as a sort of extension of the action of the State in certain areas, with the consequent deterioration of the autonomy and independence which is an essential feature of the nature of cooperatives. They are not seen as free and voluntary organizations in which people seek to improve their economic and social situation but as a tool used by the State for its own purposes. A consequence of this lack of respect for the principle of autonomy is the frequent legal authorization given to governments to intervene cooperatives by force replacing their natural bodies of direction and administration. This is different to what happens with commercial companies whose intervention must be resolved by a court decision guaranteeing due process and the right of defence. In this context, ICA-Americas decided in recent years to carry out an update of the project of the Framework Law for Cooperatives in Latin America that had been elaborated by the Organization of the Cooperatives of America (OCA), in order to provide a guiding document for the reform and updating of national legislations. This document, developed by a group of experts and subsequently subjected to broader consultation, was also presented to

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the Latin American Parliament which approved it in 2012 after analysing it in their respective commissions. Thus, nowadays, countries in the region have a document which can adequately serve to improve cooperative legislation, effectively serving the objective of the Blueprint for a Cooperative Decade "to ensure legal frameworks that support cooperative growth." Finally, the improvement of the legislation requires appropriate advocacy and collaboration from cooperative organizations with their respective national parliaments. To this end, ICA-Americas has also prepared documents, conducted courses and seminars and actively promoted continental meetings of bodies of cooperative registry, control and promotion as well as the creation of networks of cooperative parliamentarians. The issue of cooperative legislation in all its dimensions and its impact on the activity of cooperatives will be reviewed in the Continental Congress of Cooperative Law to be held in October 2013. Lawyers linked to cooperatives have been invited to participate as well as scholars in the subject (see information in Spanish at http:// www.aciamericas.coop/CongresoContinental-de-Derecho).

*Dante Cracogna is a lawyer and Doctor in Law from the University of Buenos Aires. Member of the International Legal Advisory Group legal of the International Cooperative Alliance.

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  The second International Cooperative Summit will be held from October 6 to 9 2014, in Quebec‐Canada.  This event is organized by the International Cooperative Alliance and Desjardins Group. It will reunite high  profile politicians and representatives of the cooperative movement worldwide, as well as academics and  representatives of the most important international organizations. As in the first edition held in 2012 Inter‐ national Year of Cooperatives the event will be focused on the interchange of ideas about a number of in‐ ternational studies, which will be presented during the summit. The organizers will call for papers on the  central themes of the event. There will also be a new Global  Cooperative  Expo with the intention of pro‐ moting inter‐cooperation and opening new markets and business opportunities for the cooperatives which  decide to take part in the expo. For more information http://www.sommetinter.coop.    The Regional Office of the International Cooperative Alliance for Africa has elaborated a cooperative de‐ velopment  strategy for 2013‐2016  entitled “Increasing the benefits of a cooperative enterprise”. The new  strategic plan aims at deepening the achievements of 2012 International Year of Cooperatives, inspired on  the Blueprint  for  a  Cooperative  Decade. It was designed to propose solutions to the challenges posed by  the “Challenge 2020”. On the other hand, to boost cooperative development, the Regional Office for Africa  will establish a classification system to be applied in all the cooperatives in the region.    The  report  Global  500  published  by  the  International  Cooperative  and  Mutual  Insurance  Federation  (ICMIF), sectoral organization of ICA, shows how one fifth of the biggest insurance cooperatives and mutu‐ als (33 enterprises in total) grew at double digit in 2011. The report includes the biggest 500 insurance co‐ operatives and mutuals in the world, identified from active data of 3,300 insurance organizations in 77 mar‐ kets worldwide. In 2011 the total of premiums for these 500 organizations grew 3.1%  in relation to 2010,  while 70% of them (348 organizations) grew (7 more than in 2010).     The Regional  Director  for  the  International  Co‐operative  Alliance  in  Asia‐Pacific is to retire at the end of  2013. Dr.  Chan‐Ho  Choi  has held this position for four years at the office in Delhi,  India. Over the coming  months, Dr Choi will be working with the Global Office to recruit a successor.    The International Cooperative Alliance has 268 member organizations from 94 countries, active in all sec‐ tors of the economy.  These organizations together, gather and represent more than 1,000 million coopera‐ tive members worldwide.   

All of your suggestions and proposals regarding the newsletter’s contents are very important for us, since our primary  goal is to provide a publication enriched by your opinions.   Please send your comments to: communications@aciamericas.coop 

ICA-Americas Newsletter // Issue Nº 9 // May 2011 An e-publication of International Co-operative Alliance for the Americas (ICA Americas) ICA-Americas Newsletter // Issue Nº 18 // August 2013 represents and serves co-operatives worldwide ICA is an independent, non-governmental association which unites, An e-publication of International Cooperative AllianceAcerenza, for the Americas Americas) Editor: Manuel Mariño // Realization team: Natalia Virginia(ICA Pérez Auza and Jorge Cabrera (jcse) ICA is anAmericas independent, which unites,authorization represents andon serves co-operatives worldwide © ICA // non-governmental Contents can beassociation reproduced without condition that the source is indicated Editor: Manuel Mariño // Realization team: Natalia Acerenza, Virginia Pérez Auza and Jorge Cabrera (jcse) © ICA Americas // Contents can be reproduced without authorization on condition that the source is indicated

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ICA Americas Newsletter - Issue 18