Cooperatives (COOP)
ILO is a specialized agency of the United Nations

Cooperatives (COOP)

The ILO views cooperatives as important in improving the living and working conditions of women and men globally as well as making essential infrastructure and services available even in areas neglected by the state and investor-driven enterprises. Cooperatives have a proven record of creating and sustaining employment – they provide over 100 million jobs today; they advance the ILO’s Global Employment Agenda and contribute to promoting decent work.

International standard on cooperatives guides work

ILO activities are guided by the international standard on cooperatives, the ILO Recommendation on the Promotion of Cooperatives, 2002 (R.193). ILO's Cooperatives Unit (COOP) serves ILO constituents and cooperative organizations in four priority areas:
  • Raising public awareness on cooperatives through evidence based advocacy and sensitization to cooperative values and principles;
  • Ensuring the competitiveness of cooperatives by developing tailored tools to cooperative stakeholders including management training, audit manuals and assistance programmes.
  • Promoting the Inclusion of teaching of cooperative principles and practices at all levels of the national education and training systems; and,
  • Providing advice on cooperative policy and cooperative law, including participatory policy and law making and the impact on cooperatives of taxation policies, labour law, accounting standards, and competition law among others.

Partnerships for cooperative promotion

The ILO works in partnership with the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA), the representative world body of cooperatives and is a member of the Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives (COPAC), an interagency committee which promotes sustainable cooperative development. It also collaborates with cooperative development agencies and training institutions.

A cooperative is defined as 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."

ILO Recommendation 193

Highlights

  1. Brief

    Cooperatives and the Sustainable Development Goals: A Contribution to the Post-2015 Development Debate
    08 April 2014

    This brief summarizes the main findings of a forthcoming report of the same title, by Frederick O. Wanyama of Maseno University in Kenya, prepared as part of ILO’s contribution to the initiative on the contribution of cooperatives to sustainable development.

  1. Newsletter

    ILO and Cooperatives - ILO COOP NEWS No. 4, 2013

    This issue of the COOP News includes articles on various events, projects, trainings and meetings related to the work of the ILO's COOP Unit between October and December, 2013.

  2. Publication

    Providing clean energy and energy access through cooperatives
    20 December 2013

    This publication is a collection of case studies on cooperatives in energy production, distribution and consumption as a contribution to the on-going search for ways in which the goal of sustainable Energy for All can be turned into a reality.

  3. Book

    Guidelines for Cooperative Legislation (Third revised edition)
    December 2012

    Provides guidance to policy and lawmakers as well as other stakeholders to update existing and draft new cooperative legislation. Now also available in French and Spanish, with Arabic and Russian versions to follow shortly!

  4. Report

    Resilience in a downturn: The power of financial cooperatives
    20 March 2013

    This report reviews the performance of financial cooperatives, looking in particular at the aftermath of the 2007-2008 crisis and the continuing long austerity period. It explains why financial cooperatives have proven to be more resilient pointing to the specificities of the cooperative model of enterprise. Now available in English, French, Spanish and Korean.

  5. Newsletter

    ILO and Cooperatives - COOP NEWS No.3, 2013
    6 December 2013

  6. Policy brief

    Cooperating out of HIV and AIDS
    13 November 2013

    Given the values and principles cooperative enterprises embody and as a resilient business model which has been shown to operate successfully in all sectors, they can play a vital role in overcoming HIV and AIDS.

  7. Course

    Managing your Agricultural Cooperative
    14 October 2013 - 10 January 2014

    Registration for the second edition of the distance learning Training of Trainers course on “Managing your Agricultural Cooperative - My.Coop”, hosted by the International Training Centre of the ILO (ITC-ILO) is now open.

  8. Survey

    Cooperatives and Sustainable Development Survey: What have Cooperatives got to do with Sustainable Development Goals?
    19 September 2013

    In order to bring in cooperative voices into the process of the post-2015 development agenda, the International Labour Organization’s Co-operatives Unit, in collaboration with the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA), the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) and other partners has launched an initiative on the contribution of cooperatives to sustainable development.

  9. Issue brief

    Cooperatives offer migrant workers options for better lives
    19 September 2013

    Cooperative enterprises have improved the lives of women and men migrant workers and their families for decades. Migrants find income and jobs, access affordable goods and services and find empowerment through cooperative enterprises, participating in the cooperative movement. Moreover, cooperative enterprises are facilitating economic, social and cultural integration or re-integration of migrant workers in both destination and home countries.

  10. News

    ILO: Financial co-ops outperformed traditional banks
    09 July 2013

    www.ippmedia.com

  11. News

    In These Times of Crises Can Cooperatives Come to the Rescue?
    08 July 2013

    This invited think piece is published to mark International Cooperative Day. Held on 6 July every year, the theme for 2013 is "Cooperative enterprise remains strong in times of crisis".

  12. News

    Resilience and social inclusion through cooperatives
    08 July 2013

    On 8 July, experts gathered for a panel discussion at the UN in New York to examine ways in which cooperatives could serve as engines of economic recovery and growth while providing greater opportunities for social inclusion.

  13. Feature

    Helping women to help themselves escape poverty in Myanmar
    10 June 2013

    A non-profit organization set up in response to the devastation caused by cyclone Nargis employs women to run small businesses that benefit poor communities.

  14. Article

    Cooperatives today: challenges and opportunities
    14 May 2013

    A recent seminar organized by the ILO’s Bureau for Workers’ Activities and the ILO’s Cooperative Branch brought together researchers and practitioners from around the world to talk about some of the issues and experiences that cooperatives are facing today.

  15. Event

    Trade unions and worker cooperatives: Where are we at?
    9 May 2013

    Under the aegis of the International Journal of Labour Research, ACTRAV and COOP/EMP are holding a seminar on the theme of the relationship between trade unions and worker cooperatives.

  16. Press release

    The true potential of the social and solidarity economy
    06 May 2013

    Cooperatives and social enterprises can help expand decent work and job opportunities, says ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder.

  17. Analysis

    Financial cooperatives: A safe bet in a crisis
    12 April 2013

    A new ILO book says that financial cooperatives fared better than the big investor-owned banks during the economic crisis.

  18. Event

    Potential and Limits of Social and Solidarity Economy
    6-8 May 2013

    This conference is being jointly organized with UNRISD and will take place in the ILO, Geneva.

  19. Fact sheet

    A cooperative future for people with disabilities
    December 2012

    This issue brief produced during the International Year of Cooperatives 2012 highlights how and why the cooperative form of enterprise can cater to the economic and social needs of persons with disabilities.

  20. Fact sheet

    A better future for young people: What cooperatives can offer
    November 2012

    Information brief on cooperatives

  21. Feature

    Healing pharmacies
    12 November 2012

    As the International Year of Cooperatives draws to an end, ILO News looks at how cooperatives in Turkey offer customers easier and safer access to medicines.

Key resources

  1. Guidelines for cooperative legislation, third revised edition
    11 December 2012

    Provides guidance on how to draft cooperative law.

  2. Instructional Material

    Handbook on Cooperatives for use by Workers' Organizations
    01 January 2007

    This handbook lists the essential things to know about cooperatives for all those who are interested as members, future members, politicians or staff of national or international institutions in charge of the promotion and development of cooperatives. In simple, understandable language, the handbook deals in turn with the characteristic features of cooperatives, cooperative enterprise as a whole, the promotion of cooperatives and the close ties that exist between the ILO and cooperatives.

  3. Let’s organize! : a SYNDICOOP handbook for trade unions and cooperatives about organizing workers in the informal economy
    01 January 2006

    This SYNDICOOP Handbook is designed to help replicate the approach by serving as a resource for trade union and cooperative organizers and trainers. It was finalized by members of the International Steering Committee of the SYNDICOOP Programme, mainly comprising representatives from the International Confederation of Trade Unions (ICFTU now ITUC), the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) and ILO together with National Steering Committee members from all four programme countries as well as project staff.

Message from ILO's Director-General Guy Ryder for International Cooperative Day 2013

For the last 20 years the first Saturday of July each year has been established by the UN as the International Day of Cooperatives. This year, the International Cooperative Day will be on July 6 focusing on the theme of “Cooperative Enterprise Remains Strong in Times of Crisis”.

ILO Video: Cooperative enterprises build a better world

ILO COOP News


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Further Information

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    Fax:+41 22 799 8572
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