Researchers uncover the role of co-ops in peace-building and conflict resolution

The research was produced under the framework of the ICA-EU Partnership

Co-operatives can play a key role in promoting peace, argues a report released today by Cooperatives Europe.

The study was co-written by the Co-operative College, Kooperationen and Coopermondo, with input from members of the Cooperatives Europe Development Platform (CEDP).

The research was produced in the framework of the ICA-EU Partnership (#coops4dev). It features 20 case studies from 14 different countries, covering various types and stages of conflicts.

Using practical examples, the report shows how co-operatives are contributing to prevention, mitigation and post conflict reconstruction. It shows how the sector empowers minority groups affected by conflict, provides decent work and sustainable development in fragile contexts, and supports mitigation of conflict through partnerships with other actors and the provision of humanitarian support.

According to the study, co-operatives also help by building self-sufficient and resilient communities, and encouraging dialogue and democratic participation, which can bridge the gap between conflict resolution and long-term development strategies.

In addition to showcasing examples of co-operatives contributing to peace-building, the report provides recommendations for policymakers, co-operative leaders, and external partners.

The research adds to previous work by Prof Yehudah Paz and Ian MacPherson, who died in 2013. They authored two volumes on co-operatives and the pursuit of peace. In 2009 the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) also passed a resolution that reasserted its commitment to promoting peace.

The research touches on the peace dimension of the European Union project, enshrined in the Treaty of Lisbon. Peace is also a key pillar of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG 16, which aims provide access to justice and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at every level of governance. The report stresses that co-operative values can help to implement SDG16.

MEP Stelios Kouloglou, the vice-chair of the Committee on Development (DEVE) in the European Parliament, highlighted the value of partnering with co-operatives for peace-building, adding: “The role of these partnerships will be of particular relevance for decision-makers, who can look to international co-operative development as an additional strategy for peace-building.”

Sarah Alldred, international programmes manager at the Co-operative College, said: “The College is delighted to have played a key role, alongside the CEDP partners, in the creation of this report illustrating, through a series of case studies, the implicit role co-operative enterprise can play in building peace from the grassroots up.

“As we celebrate our centenary year, our international co-operative development work continues to illustrate our commitment to the notion that through our values and principles, co-operatives can contribute significantly to building a fairer, more stable world.”

Agnes Mathis, director of Cooperatives Europe, added: “This report demonstrates the role of co-operative enterprises with regard to peace. This potential, hardly known, deserves to be promoted and supported as a key prerequisite for development.”