In September 2000 NISPED established a new division, the International Center for Cooperative Studies (ICeCoS). The center will conduct education and training programs focussing on the promotion and development of cooperatives, of people-centered enterprises and of similar endeavors. It will also initiate and develop projects and will offer consultancy services in these areas.

Cooperatives – An Overview
Cooperatives are a central element in civil society. Membership in the roof organization of the world’s cooperatives, the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), totals more than 750,000,000. The secretary-general of the United Nations has noted that cooperators and their families make up over one-third of the world’s population. Cooperatives exist in almost every nation in the world. They are a significant element in the economic and social structures of industrialized, developing, newly industrialized and post-centralized-economy countries. Cooperatives exist and function over a wide range of economic, social and cultural endeavors. Among these are agriculture, industry and crafts, banking and insurance, consumer goods provision, housing, transport, tourism, education, health, care of the aged, leisure and recreation, music and the arts, newspapers and publication, information technology, research and development and more. Cooperatives are also one of the oldest of civil society groupings. The year 2000 marked the 105th anniversary of the foundation of the ICA.

Cooperatives and Social Transformation
The significance of cooperatives within civil society, their geographic and socio-economic scope, their size and number all serve to emphasize their importance in social transformations. Such transformations include those from conflict to conflict resolution, from dictatorship and centralized economy to democracy and the free market, from poverty and dependence to sustainable human development. Because of their people-centered nature and their major social and economic role, they are directly relevant to the people-to-people peace process and to the involvement of civil society in development.

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Cooperatives and NISPED
All of these characteristics emphasize the relevance of cooperatives to NISPED and to its framework of activities. NISPED is also fortunate in having a number of recognized experts on cooperatives (some of whom are cooperators themselves) among its executive and teaching staff. Israel is an appropriate venue for cooperative studies as cooperatives have been of major importance for its genesis and development.

For all of these reasons NISPED decided to launch this new division ICeCos, which will initiate its activities early in the year 2001. It hopes to develop varied programs in the areas of training and human resource development (HRD) for cooperative leaders, trainers and managers. It will also be concerned with project initiation and consultancy. ICeCoS believes that these will be relevant to the needs and aspirations of today’s cooperatives and will further their contribution to peace and to sustainable human development. ICeCoS will have a dual geographical focus: on the middle-east region and on the international scene.

ICeCoS will seek to cooperate with institutions in Israel and elsewhere which share its interests and approach. Foremost among these are the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) and its global and regional human resource development committees; the cooperative branch of the ILO – International Labor Organization and the various sectors of the Israeli cooperative movement.

ICeCoS is recognized as a cooperative training center by the Global HRD Committee of ICA, by COPAC (the committee for the promotion of cooperatives whose members include the ILO, the ICA and the FAO – the international food and agricultural organization) and by MASHAV, the Center for International Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel.

Details of IceCoS programs will be posted on this site in the near future.