News from ICA’s Thematic Committees in Kigali, Rwanda

05 Dec 2019
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Cooperative Law Committee Reconstituted in Kigali, Rwanda

Cooperative law is broadly defined to include all legal rules that shape the cooperative institution and regulate its operations. It is also a mechanism to secure the application and protection of the ICA Statement on Cooperative Identity in national and international contexts. Equally relevant for the ICA is the need to translate the three components of the Identity Statement viz. the definition, values and the 7 operational principles, into legal principles and play a part in shaping the contemporary meaning and use of cooperative law.  In order to facilitate these aspirations, ICA General Assembly recognizes the Committee on Cooperative Law (CLC) as one of its Thematic Committees to be comprised of legal experts from all the four regions.

The ICA-CLC was reconstituted for 2019-2023 during its meeting on 13 October 2019 in Kigali, Rwanda within the framework of the ICA Global Conference on Cooperatives for Development.

The reconstituted CLC comprises of 10 individuals appointed as members of the committee by the ICA Board by a majority decision. Ms. Florence Raineix, Executive Director of the National Federation of Caisses d’Epargne (FNCE) and ICA Board Member from France acts as the Liaison for the committee and the ICA Board. 7 members, including Ms. Raineix attended the CLC meeting which was chaired by Prof. Hagen Henrÿ, a noted expert on comparative law and a cooperative law specialist who serves as the Adjunct professor, Research Director at University of Helsinki (Finland). Other participants of the meeting included Dr. Bhagwati Prasad, Vice President of  Sahakari Awad Nirman Evam Vitt Nigam Ltd. (India), Ms. Ann Apps,  Lecturer at Newcastle Law School (Australia), Dr. Ifigeneia Douvitsa, Adjunct Lecturer on Social Solidarity Economy at Hellenic Open University (Greece), Prof. Antonio Fici, Professor of Private law at the University of Molise (Italy) and Mr. Alphonce Mbuya, Assistant Lecturer in Law at Moshi Cooperative University (Tanzania).

The meeting missed the participation of Dr. Dante Cracogna, Advocate, Professor at law at the University of Buenos Aires (Argentina) and author of several seminal pieces on the subject and Mr. Frank Lowery, Senior Vice President, Secretary, The Co-operators Group (Canada) due to the large difference in the time-zones of Rwanda and the Americas region. Mr. Martin Lowery, Executive Vice President Emeritus of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and ICA Board Member as well as the chairperson of the ICA Board Committee on Cooperative Identity participated in the meeting as an observer along with Mr. Paul Hazen, Executive Director of the Overseas Cooperative Development Council (USA) which created the legal tool CLARITY or The Cooperative Law & Regulation Initiative to help national cooperative movements in developing countries to create a legal and regulatory environment that enables cooperative business to flourish.

The meeting discussed a wide range of items like its collaboration with the Identity Committee in the context of the ICA World Cooperative Congress 2020 in Seoul (Republic of Korea), the committee work-plan, partnerships with external institutions and organizations undertaking research or offering services related to cooperative law. In particular, members discussed the prospects of co-organizing the 3rd International Forum on Cooperative Law on the theme of cooperative identity during the ICA Congress and the 4th Forum on the topic of international development and cooperative law in 2022 in Africa. The committee’s role will be crucial in undertaking research and legal-advocacy oriented study on specific legal issues concerning cooperatives and regulatory & policy frameworks affecting cooperatives at the global level.

3rd meeting of the International Cooperative Development Platform

The 3rd meeting of the International Cooperative Development Platform took place in Kigali, Rwanda, on 13 October, and gathered 18 Cooperative Development Organizations (CDOs) from across the globe. These cooperative organizations active in international cooperative development took stock from the ongoing activities of the ICDP and discussed an outlook into future collaborations to strengthen links between development agencies and actors. Partnerships were the guiding theme of the meeting.

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Gender Equality Committee

On 12 October, the ICA Gender Equality Committee (ICA-GEC) organized a full day dedicated to promoting the role of women cooperators in society. During the morning, the annual Assembly was held, this was the occasion to welcoming Prof. Esther Gicheru, chair of ICA Africa committee on Gender and Research, as a member of the ICA Gender Equality Committee. The different activities implemented by the Global ICA-GEC and the regional committees were presented and the draft strategy of the ICA for the next decade discussed, among other topics.

In the afternoon, a seminar on ‘Cooperatives and feminism in the 21st century’ was organised by the ICA-GEC. “Feminism defends the principle of equal rights between women and men to achieve a society in which no one is left behind,” said Maria Eugenia Pérez Zea, Chair of the committee. She said cooperatives, as enterprises based on a set of values and principles, enable all voices to be heard, and argued that the feminist vision could inspire cooperatives to fully apply their values and principles. ICA President Ariel Guarco also took part in the seminar, adding that in a world that still presents great inequalities when it comes to the role of women in society, “it is fundamental that the cooperative movement generates strategies to facilitate and encourage their participation not only in cooperatives, but also within the public and political life.” More information here.

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Youth Network

The ICA Youth Network held an Assembly and Workshop in Kigali on 13 October 2019. The Youth Network held elections for the four members-at-large on the Executive Committee. For the first time, we have a full Executive Committee! Most importantly, the Youth Network presented a resolution to the ICA General Assembly on 17 October to strengthen the ICA Youth Network. The resolution was unanimously approved with a standing ovation. Click here to learn more from the Youth Network’s latest newsletter.

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