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The Statement on the Co-operative Identity, promulgated by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA), defines and guides co-operatives worldwide. It contains the definition of a co-operative as a special form of organization, the values of co-operatives, and the currently accepted cooperative principles that direct their behavior and operation. The Statement with the latest revision of the cooperative principles was adopted by ICA in 1995.

According to the Statement, a co-operative is defined as "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." Co-operatives "are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. In the tradition of co-operative founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others."

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