The International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) is the global steward of the Statement on the Cooperative Identity – the Values and Principles of the cooperative movement.

In 1995, the ICA adopted the revised Statement on the Cooperative Identity which contains the definition of a cooperative, the values of cooperatives, and the seven cooperative principles as described below. You can also consult the Guidance Notes on the Cooperative Principles and Values which give detailed guidance and advice on the practical application of the Principles to the cooperative enterprises.

The Cooperative Identity

The Statement on the Cooperative Identity states that 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.”

Cooperative Values

Cooperatives are based on the values of Self-helpSelf-responsibilityDemocracyEqualityEquity, and Solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, cooperative members believe in the ethical values of Honesty, Openness, Social Responsibility and Caring for others

7 Cooperative Principles

  • 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. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary cooperatives members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and cooperatives at other levels are organized in a democratic manner.

  • Member Economic Participation

Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the cooperative. They usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing the cooperative, 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.

  • Autonomy and Independence

Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their cooperative autonomy.

  • Education, Training and Information

Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives. They inform the general public—particularly young people and opinion leaders—about the nature and benefits of cooperation.

  • Cooperation Among Cooperatives

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 member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies accepted by their members.

– Adopted in Manchester (UK) 23 September 1995 


MONDRAGON’s Principles | Source: Mondragon Corporation

1. Open Membership
MONDRAGON is open to anyone who accepts our Principles.

2. Democratic Organisation
A one person, one vote system for election of the cooperative’s governing bodies and for deciding on the most important issues.

3. Sovereignty of Labour
Profit is allocated on the basis of the work contributed by each member in order to achieve this profit.

4. Instrumental and Subordinated Nature of Capital
The capital factor is a necessary resource, but it does not confer the right to vote and its stake in the profit is limited and subordinated to labour.

5. Participation in the Management
People’s responsible involvement in managing the business.

6. Wage Solidarity
In accordance with the cooperative’s real possibilities, and equitable at an internal and external level and for MONDRAGON.

7. Inter-cooperation
As a mechanism for solidarity between cooperatives and business efficiency.

8. Social Transformation
Commitment to the supportive, sustainable development of our local area.

9. Universality
In solidarity with the promoters of economic democracy within the context of the Social (& Solidarity) Economy, fully embracing the goals of the international cooperative movement.

10. Education
Promoting people and the cooperative culture, allocating human and financial resources to the cooperative and professional Education of the members and of young people in general.