History of the Alliance

The Alliance was founded in London, England on 19 August 1895 during the 1st Alliance 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 the Alliance's aims to provide information, define and defend the Co-operative Principles and develop international trade. The Alliance 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 Alliance survived by staying committed to peace, democracy, and by remaining politically neutral.

Milestones in Alliance History

1895 - Established on 19 August 1895 in London, England.

1896 - The Alliance confirms its political neutrality.

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

1922 - The Alliance 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 Alliance sectoral organisation.

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

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

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

1947 - The International Organisation of Industrial and Service Co-operatives (CICOPA) is founded as an Alliance sectoral organisation.

1951 - The Alliance 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 Alliance.

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

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

1966 - The Alliance 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 - The Alliance 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 Alliance Congress in Paris (France). In June 1985 it became a sectoral organisation of the Alliance and today is known by its acronym TICA.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2009 - The Alliance 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 Alliance click to download the factsheet below.


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