The main goal of the Cooperative Law and Regulation Initiative — CLARITY — is to help national cooperative movements in developing countries create a legal and regulatory environment that enables cooperative businesses to flourish.
This site provides the background, training and tools that cooperatives, cooperative development and non- governmental organizations, legal groups and other aid organizations need to address reform.
The Cooperative Law and Regulation Initiative, CLARITY, was created by the members of the U.S. Overseas Cooperative Development Council, with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development.
CLARITY grew from the shared experiences and
convictions of OCDC’s members that outmoded legal systems were barriers to cooperative development in many parts of the world.
The goal of CLARITY is to support cooperative movements as they analyze and change legal and regulatory environments. The result? To create an environment that enables cooperative businesses to flourish.
Barriers to Cooperative
In the past, governments in many countries adopted
cooperative laws that permitted them to dominate co-op enterprises: appointing leaders, directing business decisions, signing contracts.
Over the past half century, decolonization and the fall of the Soviet Union undermined support for state-run businesses. But the laws regulating cooperatives have been slow to change. Groups that could benefit from cooperatives have found it difficult to start them, and existing co-ops have found their growth and opportunities stunted.
Building on established principles for cooperative development, CLARITY promotes cooperatives as independent entities governed by their members. It strives to help those working to change restrictive cooperative laws and regulations, especially in developing countries.
Focus on developing a cooperative-led process for cooperative legal reform, including:
Initiatives: Reports & More
Since its beginnings the CLARITY Initiative
has published four groundbreaking reports:
- Enabling Cooperative Development: Principles for Legal Reform
- Creating CLARITY
- Applying CLARITY Principles to the Nicaraguan Cooperative Law
- Cooperative Advocacy: A Practical Guide to Cooperative Legal and Regulatory Reform.
This section focuses on these reports, which provide the foundation for a cooperative-led process to reform laws and regulations affecting cooperative development worldwide.
The reports are supported by workshops, lectures and additional tools and materials for cooperative movements as they work toward legal reform.
The CLARITY Principles address
the need for laws that:
Protect and promote democratic, member control of cooperatives; Foster equitable relations between cooperatives and investor- owned businesses in the economy; and Promote effective institutional structures and efficient operation of the regulatory framework. Two rubrics for analyzing laws and regulations
The CLARITY Initiative has collected and reviewed a large number of cooperative laws and conducted research on cooperative regulatory practices in developing countries. From this research, CLARITY created two rubrics: Rubric #1: focuses on common elements of cooperative-specific laws and practices;
Rubric #2: focuses on common provisions in sector-specific regulations that impact cooperative participation.
The rubrics are not model laws with sample language and provisions that can be adopted in any country. Instead, they are designed to show how the CLARITY Principles can be used to analyze specific regulatory environments and debate needed regulatory changes.
A Short History of Legal Reform
In Europe and North America, cooperatives generally have been grassroots organizations started by the people who use them. In most developing countries, cooperative development has been promoted and dominated by government agencies.
In A Short History of Cooperative Law and Regulation Reform in Developing Countries, the author charts this course from India’s Credit Societies Act in 1904 to present-day changes in international cooperative identity.
Defining Principles for Legal Reform
Enabling Cooperative Development: Principles for Legal Reform, the first report of the CLARITY Initiative was published. Its set of nine core principles provides cooperative movements around the world with a valuable tool to evaluate and reform cooperative laws and regulations.
During its first year, the CLARITY Initiative held workshops, conducted research and consulted with the field staff of cooperative development organizations and outside consultants on cooperative law reform in various countries. From that wealth ofinformation, the participants crafted the core CLARITY Principles presented in this report. It also features analytical “rubrics” for evaluating legal environments and profiles
reflecting legal reform efforts around the world.
Guidelines for cooperative laws
Since the 1800s, cooperative movements have developed and refined principles for guiding cooperative enterprise. Although rooted in this heritage, the CLARITY Principles are unique because they’re specifically designed for analyzing legal and regulatory environments.
The CLARITY Principles address the need for laws that:
Protect and promote democratic, member control of cooperatives;
Foster equitable relations between cooperatives and investor-owned businesses in the economy; and Promote effective institutional structures and efficient operation of the regulatory framework. Two rubrics for analyzing laws and regulations
Assessment, Analysis & Outreach
Following the publication of the first CLARITY report, which focused on the principles of legal reform, the next step was to provide cooperative movements with tools for enacting legal reform.
Creating CLARITY: Assessment, Analysis and Outreach for Cooperative Legal Reform provides those tools.
Creating CLARITY explains how the CLARITY Principles and rubrics can be used for enacting legal reform. It features three key tools — the Rapid Assessment survey, and the CLARITY Scorecard and Scorecard Analysis — for assessing laws and the legal environment, along with
profiles of reform projects in four countries.
You can download this report and view it using Acrobat Reader or other pdf viewing software
Applying CLARITY Principles: Understanding and evaluating cooperative law
Two prominent Nicaraguan cooperative organizations participated in a workshop hosted by members of the CLARITY Initiative. The goal of the workshop was to provide Nicaragua’s cooperative movement with a set of tools to analyze their country’s cooperative law and regulations and to start the process of identifying recommendations and necessary changes in current cooperative legislation.
Participants used the CLARITY Scorecard introduced in Creating Clarity. It’s a tool for examining the degree to which a country’s cooperative law adheres to the CLARITY Principles in order to determine if the law enables or hinders cooperative development.
The lessons and tools presented in this report demonstrate the utility of the CLARITY approach and how other national groups of cooperatives can use it to better understand and analyze the existing situation to help create an enabling legal environment for cooperative development.
Applying the CLARITY Principles to Nicaraguan Cooperative Law
Two prominent Nicaraguan cooperative organizations participated in a workshop hosted by members of the CLARITY Initiative.
OCDC’s Cooperative Law and Regulation Initiative (CLARITY) has released the fourth report in its series for cooperative leaders interested in reforming their country’s laws and regulations governing cooperatives.
You can download this report
and view it using Acrobat
Reader or other pdf viewing
In recognition and honor of the CLARITY 2.0 Global Working Group members for their dedication and generous contributions of time and talent, the CLARITY International Fellowship was created as an honorary fellowship of cooperative law and regulation experts. In recognition of their ongoing work for cooperative legal and regulatory reform, this badge of honor is a testimonial to their thought leadership in cooperative law and an expression of appreciation for their expertise. The CLARITY 2.0 Research would not have been possible without the dedication and hard work of the talented individuals.
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