GENEVA (ILO News) – The International Labour Office (ILO) hailed the proclamation by the United Nations General Assembly of 2012 of the International Year of Cooperatives as an acknowledgement of the fundamental role of cooperatives in promoting the socio-economic development of hundreds of millions of people worldwide, especially in times of economic crisis.
Hagen Henry, Director of the ILO Cooperative Programme (ILO/COOP), said the move “recognizes the pivotal role cooperatives play globally in supporting sustainable development, eradicating and preventing poverty, and creating and securing livelihoods in various economic sectors, both formal and informal, and in urban and rural areas. Cooperatives, as social economic enterprises and self-help organizations, have a meaningful function in uplifting the socio-economic conditions of their members and their local communities in virtually all countries.”
The ILO said cooperative enterprises have successfully operated locally-owned, people-centered businesses while also serving as catalysts for social organization and cohesion. With their concern for their members and communities, they represent the core type of enterprises that do not have profit making as a primary objective and organizations that place a high regard on democratic and human values while facing climate change challenges.
In the resolution, the UN General Assembly calls for measures aimed at creating a supportive and enabling environment for the development of cooperatives and raising public awareness of the contribution of cooperatives to employment generation and socio-economic development. It also underlines the need for comprehensive research and statistical data-gathering on the activities of cooperatives, employment and overall socio-economic impact in preparation for the International Year, and support for agricultural and financial cooperatives in particular.
ILO COOP says cooperatives have a proven record of creating and sustaining employment, providing more than 100 million jobs today, while the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) says the top 300 cooperatives worldwide are responsible for an aggregate turnover of USD 1.1 trillion, equal to that of the world’s tenth largest economy. The ILO, as the only UN agency with a mandate on cooperatives, having developed in-depth expertise in this area over the years, will take a leading role together with the ICA, under the overall coordination of the UN, in developing and implementing a comprehensive strategy for activities to be undertaken during the International Year.
The adoption of the resolution A/RES/64/136 was supported by 55 countries; namely: Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Cote D’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Honduras, Lebanon, Jamaica, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mexico, Mongolia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Philippines, Saint Lucia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, Togo, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela, Panama, Sudan and Zimbabwe.