The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives, highlighting the contribution of cooperatives to socio-economic development, in particular recognizing their impact on poverty reduction, employment generation and social integration.

Cooperatives in Social Development

UN Cooperatives in Social Development

The United Nations system values the important role of cooperatives in social and economic development. The World Summit for Social Development held in Copenhagen in 1995, and the General Assembly resolution 51/58 [E] [A] [C] [F] [R] [S] adopted in 1996, recognized the importance of cooperatives in the people-centred approach to development.

The Summit agreed to “utilize and develop fully the potential and contribution of cooperatives for the attainment of social development goals, in particular the eradication of poverty, the generation of full and productive employment, and the enhancement of social integration.”(Commitment 9h).

Towards this end, the United Nations Secretariat has designated the Division for Social Policy and Development of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs to monitor the promotion and development of cooperatives at the national and international levels.  The Division acts as focal point on cooperatives and works collaboratively with the Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives (COPAC) in organizing expert group meetings (EGMs) and special events to mark the International Day of Cooperatives.

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