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The Second International Forum on Co-operative Law was organized at Athens by Ius Cooperativum, with the support of the  ICA and two local co-organizers: the Hellenic Open University (Athens) and the Peoples’ University on Social and Solidarity Economy (Thessaloniki). The First Forum was organized in 2016 at Montevideo, Uruguay. The theme of the Forum was, “Co-operative Law and Co-operative Principles”, to point to the relevance of the internationally recognized co-operative principles for co-operative law. The focus was on the place of the co-operative principles in co-operative law, research and education in the field of co-operative law, and on an exchange of views on co-operatives by lawyers and economists. The detailed program of the forum is available on the  website of IUS Cooperativum. 




Video message from Ms. Simel Esim (Co-operatives Unit, International Labour Organization) in the Opening Ceremony



The opening session was chaired by Dr. Kassavetis Demosthenis from the forum organizing committee who acknowledged the support and assistance provided by all the co-organisers and welcomed the national and international participants. Prof. Kardasis Vasilis, Dean of the Hellenic Open University talked about the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) in Greece acting as a viable economic alternative and as a means to support vulnerable social groups, hit by the recession. Mr. Bruno Roelants, Director General, ICA elaborated on how all types of co-operatives around the world have been guided by a set of identity-shaping principles ever since the foundation of the ICA in 1895, laid out in the 1995 Alliance Statement on the Co-operative Identity. The fact that such a set of principles exists sets co-operatives apart from other types of enterprises. He briefly discussed why and how legislators are bound by these principles, and for which legal and political reasons legislators ought to translate these principles into law. Prof. Hagen Henrÿ of University of Helsinki noted that it would be important for co-operative lawyers, researchers and practitioners to reflect on 2002 ILO Recommendation No. 193 concerning the promotion of co-operatives (ILO R. 193). Ms. Simel Esim from the Co-operatives Unit, ILO shared some observations based on recent research and practice from the ILO on laws, policies and programmes around co-operatives and other social and solidarity economy entities with regard to state capacities, policy coherence, participation and sustainability.



Roundtable between economists and lawyers on: “What can we/what must we learn from each other”?


The event was attended by around 55 participants from more than 10 countries. Over the duration of 3 days in the forum, the attendees discussed various issues relating to the legal relevance of the co-operative principles for co-operative law, legal framework of the social economy, legal requirements for specific types of co-operatives by sector and governance structure, the harmonization and unification of co-operative law at national, regional and international level, co-operative law and human rights, educational programs and tools for the research and study of co-operative law.



Ms. Arielle Romeanteau from Co-operatives Europe presenting on Legal Framework Analyses and the ICA-EU Partnership


The ICA Asia and Pacific office was represented by its Research Officer, Mr. Mohit Dave for the discussion on tools for the research and study of co-operative law. He contributed to the paper on Legal Framework Analyses and the ICA-EU Partnership: Acknowledging the specificity of the co-operative model and ensuring a level playing field for people-centered businesses. This paper presents the research currently being conducted to examine and analyze the legal frameworks that impact co-operatives in different countries across all ICA regions and falls within the scope of the knowledge-building activities undertaken within the partnership for international development signed in 2016 between the European Commission and the ICA. The paper outlined the contextual background and knowledge gaps, key objectives and methodological features of this ongoing research, which aims to provide harmonized data on co-operative law and its provisions, including a critical analysis of existing provisions that impede or promote co-operatives. The presentation can be accessed here



Mr. Mohit Dave from ICA Asia and Pacific presenting the regional perspectives on legal frameworks study


The forum helped underscore the relevance of co-operative law to the legal framework of the social economy, policies on research and education in the field of co-operative law and the need for unification of co-operative law at various levels. The governments in the region need to take co-operatives into account by carrying out consultations with the sector when developing economic policies and regulations, creating legal frameworks and undertaking administrative practices on social and economic issues. In terms of next steps, ICA Asia and Pacific office will work closely with the ICA members, forum participants and stakeholders in the region for the proposed pilot study on legal framework analyses in October 2018, before the full-scale implementation scheduled until August 2020. Presentations and photos from the forum will be made available by the organizers in the coming weeks.