Madeleine Albright calls on world leaders to back co-ops

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Former United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called on world leaders to connect with the co-operative model.

Ms Albright, who held the position from 1997-2001, made an impassioned plea on behalf of the movement at the International Summit of Cooperatives in Quebec City.

In talking about a multitude of global issues from differing cultures to world hunger, Ms Albright said the co-operative model can solve many problems.

She said: "The challenge for our leaders is not to eliminate the diversity of these perspectives, because that's not possible. The challenge is not to define them by their differences.

"This requires uniting people around principles, in which we can have confidence no matter where we live or what our backgrounds might be.

"That seems to be a very tall order, but in its own arena isn't it precisely what the international co-operative movement has accomplished. Your alliance was constructed around seven principles, these include voluntary and non-discriminatory membership, democratic organisation, a commitment to life-long learning and support for the sustainable development of the larger community.

"These principles have attracted 800 million members in more than one hundred countries and have been translated into good jobs, higher standards of living and a profound sense of what people working together can achieve.

"To world leaders who are looking for a model, I say either come to Quebec City this week or establish a connection with co-operatives back home. Either way you will learn a great deal that you need to know and it would be too much to say that the co-operative example is the solution to all ails, but in a world of six billion people and growing, in an era of high anxiety it seems to me like a pretty good place to start."

Ms Albright continued in her praise for co-operatives, especially from her personal experience of witnessing women being marginalised throughout the world and co-operatives providing a business model they can engage in.

She said: "The co-operative model definitely contributes to social progress. Obviously, there are many advantages to be able to count on a network and I strongly believe in common sense. This model shows what people can accomplish when they work together."

She added: "Women are particularly effective when they work together, which is what makes their strength."

In responding to the global economic crisis, Ms Albright believes co-operatives have the advantage over shareholder companies. Co-operatives have "ethics" and "principles that guide" the movement. She commented: "When one system works and another screws up, my view would be to look closely to the one that works."

Ms Albright said the unavoidable explanation for the financial collapse was "greed" and that with co-operatives being local and not global they have much better oversight from stakeholders in the business.

In closing, the former Secretary of State, praised co-operators around the world: "For all of you that have contributed to the co-operative movement in the past I salute you; and for what you are doing now and what you will do in the future I applaud you." 

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