History of the ICA

The ICA was founded in London, England on 19 August 1895 during the 1st ICA Co-operative Congress. In attendance were delegates from co-operatives from Argentina, Australia, Belgium, England, Denmark, France, Germany, Holland, India, Italy, Switzerland, Serbia, and the USA. Representatives established ICA's aims to provide information, define and defend the Co-operative Principles and develop international trade. The ICA was one of the only international organisations to survive both World War I and World War II. Overcoming all the political differences between its members was extremely difficult, but the ICA survived by staying committed to peace, democracy, and by remaining politically neutral.

Milestones in ICA History

1895 - Established on 9 August 1895 in London, England.

1896 - ICA confirms its political neutrality.

1922 - ICA establishes a committee "International Co-operative Banking". Today it is known as the International Co-operative Banking Association (ICBA), a sectoral organisation of the ICA regrouping co-operative banks and other financial institutions.

1922 - ICA establishes its International Insurance Committee. Renamed in 1971 as the International Co-operative Insurance Federation, today it is known as the International Co-operative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF), an ICA sectoral organisation.

1923 - The first ICA Co-operative Day is celebrated.

1937 - ICA undertakes its first review of the Co-operative Principles.

1946 - ICA is one of the first three non-governmental organisations to be accorded "consultative status" with the United Nations.

1951 - ICA establishes an Agricultural Committee regrouping agricultural co-operatives in ICA membership. Today it is known as the International Co-operative Agricultural Organisation (ICAO), a sectoral organisation of the ICA.

1952 - ICA sets up a committee for housing co-operatives. Today it is known as ICA Housing, a sectoral organisation regrouping housing co-operatives within ICA's membership.

1966 - ICA undertakes its second review of the Co-operative Principles.

1966 - ICA sets up a sub-committee of the ICA's Agricultural Committee to focus on fisheries co-operatives. The Fisheries committee becomes an independent body in 1976 and is now known as the International Co-operative Fisheries Organisations (ICFO).

1968 - ICA establishes a Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific established in New Delhi (India).

1976 - The International Association of Tourism Co-operative (TICA) was founded as a Working Party in Copenhagen by a Resolution of the 26th ICA Congress in Paris (France). In June 1985 it became a sectoral organisation of the ICA and today is known by its acronym TICA.

1982 - ICA moves its headquarters from London,UK to Geneva, Switzerland.

1990 - ICA establishes its Regional Office for the Americas in San José, Costa Rica.

1992 - ICA begins a decentralisation process and establishes four regions: Africa, Americas, Asia and the Pacific, and Europe.

1995 - ICA adopts revised Co-operative Principles and Values and adds a seventh principle, "Concern for Community".

1996 - ICA set up the International Health Co-operative Organisation (IHCO), a sectoral organisation of the ICA regrouping health co-operatives.

2001 - The United Nations adopts Guidelines aimed at creating a supportive environment for the development of co-operatives.

2002 - The ICA adopts ILO Recommendation on the Promotion of Cooperatives, 2002 (R.193).  Further information available here

2003 - ICA adopts new ICA Rules and Standing Orders at its General Assembly in Oslo (Norway).

2009 - ICA elects its first woman President, Dame Pauline Green.

2012 - United Nations International Year of Co-operatives


For a more detailed list of important dates in the history of the ICA click to download the factsheet below.

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