Co-operative Principles                                             co-op history
September 1995
Co-operative Principles were defined by a  
resolution of the Centennial Congress of  
the International Co-operative Alliance on  
23 September 1995
A co-operative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural
needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically controlled  enterprise.
Co-operatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity.  In the tradition 
of their founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for 
The co-operative principles are guidelines by which co-operatives put their values into practice.  
[1]  Voluntary and Open Membership:  
      Co-operatives are voluntary organisations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to 
      accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political, or religious  
[2]  Democratic Member Control:  
       Co-operatives are democratic organisations controlled by their members, who actively participate in   
      setting their policies and making decisions.  Women and men serving as elected representatives are 
      accountable to the membership.  In primary co-operatives members have equal voting rights [one 
      member, one vote] and co-operatives at other levels are also organised in a democratic manner.      
[3]  Member Economic Participation:  
      Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their co-operative.  At least 
      part of that capital is usually the common property of the co-operative.  Members usually receive 
      limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership.  Members allocate 
      surpluses for any of the following purposes:  developing their co-operative, possibly by setting up 
      reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible;  benefiting members in proportion to their 
      transactions with the co-operative;  and supporting other activities approved by the membership.  
[4]  Autonomy and Independence :  
      Co-operatives are autonomous, self-help organisations controlled by their members.  If they enter into 
      agreements with other organisations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, 
      they do so on terms that ensures democratic control by their members and maintain their co-operative 
[5]  Education, Training and Information:  
      Co-operatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, 
      and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives.  They 
      inform the general public - particularly young people and opinion leaders - about the nature and 
      benefits of co-operation.  
[6]  Co-operation among Co-operatives:  
      Co-operatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by 
      working together through local, national, regional, and international structures.  
[7]  Concern for Community:  Co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities 
      through policies approved by their members.