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International Co-operative Alliance Organization

Last modified: 2000-06-17 by rob raeside
Keywords: international co-operative alliance | canadian co-operative | rainbow flag | international organization |
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[Flag of International Co-operative Alliance] by Jorge Candeias, 9 January 1999

The ICA is based in Geneva ( The apex body of the movement is the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) established in 1895. The ICA is an independent non-governmental association which unites, represents and serves co-operatives world wide. Its members are national and international co-operative organisations in all sectors of activity including agriculture, banking, credit and saving, industry, insurances, fisheries, housing, tourism and consumer co-operatives. ICA has more than 200 member organisations from over 100 countries, representing more than 700 million individuals world-wide. In 1946 it was one of the first non-government organisations to be accorded United Nations Consultative Status. Today it is one of the 41 organisations holding Category 1 Consultative Status with UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

The ICA Co-op leaders designed an international co-op symbol and a flag for the first "Co-operators' Day." After some experiments with different designs, the first rainbow flag was completed in 1924 and was adopted as an official symbol of the international co-operative movement in 1925.

See also:

Canadian Co-operative Association

The Canadian Co-operative Association gives a good idea of what co-operative principles look like in other areas beside housing. It focuses on co-operative businesses in agriculture, finance, insurance, consumer and supply and service sectors. While it has a different focus, its guiding philosophy is the same, "that people, no matter what economic class or education level, know what's best for them and can work together to meet their own needs."

Meaning of the flag:

The rainbow flag has been the co-operative emblem since 1921. Like the rainbow, this flag is a symbol of hope and peace. The seven colors from flags around the world fly in harmony. Each of the seven colors in the flag has a special meaning.

RED stands for courage
ORANGE offers the vision of possibilities
YELLOW represents the challenge that green has kindled
GREEN indicates a challenge to strive for membership growth
SKY BLUE suggests far horizons, the need to provide education and help the less fortunate and unity with all peoples of the world
DARK BLUE represents the less fortunate who can learn to help themselves through co-operation
VIOLET represents warmth, beauty, and friendship

Phil Nelson, 12 August 1999

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