The International Cooperative Alliance, representing cooperatives around the world, approved the following statement in 1996:
The Statement on the Cooperative Identity
A cooperative 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.
Cooperatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, cooperative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others.
The cooperative principles are guidelines by which cooperatives put their values into practice.
- Voluntary and Open Membership - Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political, or religious discrimination.
- Democratic Member Control - Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions.
- Member Economic Participation - Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative.
- Autonomy and Independence - Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members.
- Education, Training and Information - Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees, and they inform the general public about the nature and benefits of cooperation.
- Cooperation among Co-operatives - Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional, and international structures.
- Concern for Community - While focusing on members’ needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies accepted by their members