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On 24th May 2021, the Global Cooperative Law Committee (CLC) of the ICA collaborated with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) in a consultation on cooperative law to provide expert input to the Report of the UN Secretary-General (UNSG) on Cooperatives in Social Development, which is released biennially.

 

The report comprises two parts - the overarching topic #BuildBetterTogether that echoes the theme of the 99th ICA CoopsDay: ‘Cooperatives for people-centered and environmentally just recovery’, and the specific thematic focus on cooperative legislation.  

 

The ICA-CLC invited legal experts and cooperative leaders from the ICA system and members of the growing cooperative-law fraternity, to discuss and exchange ideas on the theme: Theoretical importance of legislation and the challenges and opportunities in implementing cooperative laws. The points of convergence and ideas emerging from the discussions will feed into the official contribution of the ICA to the UNSG Report. The consultation was chaired by Prof. Hagen Henrÿ, Chair, CLC and led by Mr. Andrew Allimadi, UNDESA, New York.

 

Mr. Balasubramanian Iyer, ICA-AP Regional Director,  Prof. Akira Kurimoto, Prof. Ann Apps, Mr. Robby Tulus and Mr. Morshed Mannan spoke about existing legislation in the region, best practice cases, and possible revisions.

 

Faisal Khan, Director & Registrar of Cooperatives, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Government of Fiji spoke about the ongoing engagement with the CLC and the ICA-AP  to revise their existing cooperative law. Terming it as forward-looking legislation, he outlined the plans laid out for  the cooperative law in Fiji to be more inclusive with specific focus on youth and women.

 

 Ms. Altantuya Tseden-Ish, Vice-President, National Association of Mongolian Agricultural Cooperatives (NAMAC); Mr. Bhima Subrahmanyam, Chairman, International Cooperative Banking Association (ICBA) & Managing Director, National Federation of State Co-operative Banks Ltd. (NAFSCOB), India; Mr. Osamu Nakano, Director of International Relations at Japan Workers' Co-operative Union (JWCU) and Mr. Babul Khanal, National Cooperative Federation of Nepal (NCFN) expressed their views on existing legal frameworks in their respective countries and how specific reforms can catalyse the growth of cooperatives.

 

Mr. Iyer pointed out inhibiting factors such as limited understanding of cooperatives as business enterprises leading to increased regulation, lack of active promotion of cooperatives by regulators, and the need to recognise and position cooperatives as key players within the newer emerging ecosystem of Social and Solidarity Economy. He said that cooperative law as a domain is limited to legal experts and lawyers and highlighted the need for cooperative apexes and federations to play a bigger role here. He noted that many countries in the region had well-drafted laws on paper, but, their implementation was an issue. He encouraged the creation of a network of Parliamentarians to support the cooperative movement.

 

ICA-AP staff including Mr. Mohit Dave, Programme Manager along with Programme Officers Mr. Ganesh Gopal and Ms. Simren Singh also participated in the consultation. This closed room session will be followed by another round of consultation organised by the UNDESA  on 4th June 2021, to finalise inputs for the report.