Service du droit pour le développement

Distant laws have on the ground impact


The United Nations General Assembly has recognized that “cooperatives, in their various forms, promote the fullest possible participation in the economic and social development of all people, including women, youth, older persons, persons with disabilities and indigenous peoples, [and] are becoming a major factor of economic and social development and contribute to the eradication of poverty” (United Nations, 2010)[1] Given their flexibility and adaptiveness, cooperatives have an enormous potential contribution to make to the attainment of global goals and societal objectives, such as the Sustainable Development Goals. Cooperatives can be  important for “job creation, mobilizing resources, generating investment and their contribution to the economy [while facilitating…] a more equitable distribution of the benefits of globalization”[2].

For cooperatives to work to their full potential, it is fundamental to have a sound legal basis to support them to form and grow. A legal framework will provide the required clarity and predictability, supporting the long-term success of policy efforts and offering a way to translate supranational commitments and guidance into national objectives and targets. The law not only supports their creation but runs across the entire life cycle of agricultural cooperatives.  

Over the years, LEGN has closely collaborated with colleagues in other FAO technical divisions and decentralized offices, and with external partners, to support legal work on agricultural cooperatives. Currently, collaborative work by LEGN on agricultural cooperatives spans across geographical regions and includes technical legal support at national, regional and global levels. Notable examples have been the support provided to the Parlatino regional process to develop a Model Law on Agrifood Cooperatives, the work with national stakeholders in Tajikistan in support of a legal revision process, and the work being done with UNIDROIT, FAO and IFAD to develop global guidance on different collaborative legal structures for agri-enterprises.

By strengthening the legal framework for agricultural cooperatives, they and their members have better possibilities to enhance their livelihoods and, in turn, further contribute to the economic and social development of their communities and their country. Among the many instances of technical legislative support provided by LEGN in recent years, the one provided in Türkiye under the helm of the broader project “OSRO/TUR/901/EC - Building Resilience of Syrians under Temporary Protection and Host Communities in Turkey through Supporting Socio-Economic Integration and Creating Livelihood Opportunities” has contributed to the formal establishment of HEPYERİ E-Commerce Digital Platform. This association of cooperatives has then led to concrete results in the daily life of many women and their communities, as aptly and interestingly described in FAO’s recent feature story “Women-led cooperatives foster resilience amidst adversity in Türkiye”.

While the technical legal support sometimes seems distant from “on-the-ground’ impact, it is important to remember its critical contribution to enabling such results, such as the case in Türkiye, which directly favors the fulfilment of the intrinsic nature of a cooperative – to meet members’ common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations[3].

[1] United Nations. 2010. Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 18 December 2009 [on the report of the Third Committee (A/64/432)]. 64/136. Cooperatives in social development. New York.

[2] ILO. 2002. Recommendation No. 193 - Promotion of Cooperatives. Geneva.

[3] ICA. 1995. Statement on Co-operative Identity. Manchester.