The International Co-operative Alliance accepted new co-operative principles on September 23, 1995.

Open membership

Co-op membership is open to everyone who needs the services of the co-op and who accepts the responsibilities of membership. The board of directors must not discriminate against anyone and must respect human rights.

Democratic control

Members control their co-op. Together they set by-laws and policies, make decisions and elect leaders who report to them. Each member of a co-op has one vote. All members have an equal say in managing their co-op.

Economic participation

All members contribute fairly to the co-op which they own in common. Co-ops pay a limited return (if any) on money that people paid to become members. The co-op holds any surplus for the future or uses it to improve the co-op’s services.


All agreements that co-ops sign with outside organizations or governments should leave the members in control of their co-op.

Co-operative education

Every co-op is responsible for offering training to its members, directors and staff. Co-ops should also tell the public what they are and what they do.

Co-operation among co-operatives

Co-ops work together to serve their members through local, national and international structures.


Co-ops meet members’ needs in ways that build lasting communities inside and outside each co-op.