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International Co-operative Alliance Organization

Last modified: 2023-06-03 by zachary harden
Keywords: international co-operative alliance | canadian co-operative | rainbow flag | international organization |
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[Flag of International Co-operative Alliance]
image by Zachary Harden, 11 March 2022

See also:

International Cooperative Organization

The ICA is based in Geneva ( The apex body of the movement is the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) established in 1895. The ICA is an independent non-governmental association which unites, represents and serves co-operatives world wide. Its members are national and international co-operative organisations in all sectors of activity including agriculture, banking, credit and saving, industry, insurances, fisheries, housing, tourism and consumer co-operatives. ICA has more than 200 member organisations from over 100 countries, representing more than 700 million individuals world-wide. In 1946 it was one of the first non-government organisations to be accorded United Nations Consultative Status. Today it is one of the 41 organisations holding Category 1 Consultative Status with UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
Jorge Candeias, 9 January 1999

The present flag is white with the ICA's logo, replacing the rainbow flag which was adopted in 1925. The present flag/logo depicts a quarter of a rainbow, from which emerge some doves. This design represents the same as the former rainbow flag: the ideals of universal peace, social justice, solidarity and the ICA's worldwide, diverse membership. The new ICA flag was adopted in the last world congress in Seoul, Korea. The ICA changed the flag to clearly promote the co-operative image, because the former rainbow flag became over the years a gay pride symbol. Incidentally, the rainbow flag is nowadays recognized as a peace flag (also). The logo is seen on several sites, but an image of the new flag, in its Romance languages version (ACI), is at
Francisco Santos, 2 April 2003

In 2001 the ICA (International Co-operative Alliance) decided to change its flag. The classic 7-stripes Co-operative rainbow flag had been adopted in 1925, but during the 1980s & 1990s a lot of "rainbow flags" became popular around the world. For example the 6-stripes "Gay flag", or the "Inca flags" used in South America. Present day we can mention the Italian Pacifist Flags also. The ICA decided to change its flag in order to avoid confusions between the Co-operative Flag and the other "Rainbow flags". The new flag is white with an ICA logo inside it. The rainbow in this new International Co-operative Flag has 6 colors. The seventh color appears in the text below the rainbow.

Here in Argentina the Co-operative Flag "says" ACI that means Alianza Cooperativa Internacional (International Co-operative Alliance). In the homepage of the ICA ( appears the logo of the flag with the text "ICA". So I think in English speaking countries the flag should say "ICA". In Argentina, the Co-operative banks and companies show the new Co-operative Flag along with the Argentine National Flag.
Francisco Gregoric, 25 November 2003

I am writing on behalf of the International Co-operative Alliance. Would it be possible to update our flag to the one attached?
Emma Nolan
, Communications Officer, International Co-operative Alliance, 11 March 2014

Variant of the flag

[Flag of International Co-operative Alliance]
image by Zachary Harden, 11 March 2022

Here is a green background variant used in Bogota, Colombia.
Esteban Rivera, 4 February 2022

[Flag of International Co-operative Alliance]
blue background; image by Zachary Harden, 11 March 2022

[Flag of International Co-operative Alliance]
white with full logo; image by Zachary Harden, 11 March 2022

There are apparently at least 12 official variants of this flag, which was adopted in 2013 according to their identity manual. There are six colors that can be used as the background, with each of those backgrounds using a logo in white. Conversely, those six colors can be used on a logo that is placed on a white background. The international organization can only use the plum color flag with each nation can pick one of the 12 variants on the bottom of the above-linked page. Colombia selected a white flag with blue lettering, Costa Rica chose a blue flag with a white logo. Argentina, on the other hand, uses the international flag and has the cravatte that is plum with a thin white strip down the middle of it. What I do not know for sure is if the logo should be placed center or have it where the tail end of the P is further down the flag.
Zachary Harden, 11 March 2022

Previous Flags

English-language Flag

[Flag of International Co-operative Alliance]
by Francisco Gregoric

I have some news about Co-operativism's new flag. I received a very kind e-mail from Ms. Maria Elena Chavez Hertig, Deputy Director-General of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA). She told me that there are four variants of the New International Co-operative Flag. The difference appears in the ICA
ICA (for English)
ACI (for Spanish and French)
IGB (for German)
MKA (for Russian)
These languages are the five official languages of the ICA.
Francisco Gregoric, 26 November 2003

Spanish and French-language Flag

[Flag of International Co-operative Alliance]
image by Francisco Gregoric

Variant of the flag

[Flag of International Co-operative Alliance]
by Jorge Candeias

The image at the top of this page include the present logo (or maybe not - at the logo is more complex) made by Francisco Gregoric and show semi-arcs in red, orange, yellow, green, light blue and dark blue. However, I have had for a long time in my files a version of this logo with the two last stripes replaced by blue (dark) and purple. What's right?

The site does not solve the problem. True, the image at the top of the opening page show the arrangement as in Francisco's images. However, if you go to the bottom of the same page, you'll find a logo showing the arrangement as in my image.
Jorge Candeias, 5 December 2004

According to the information provided by the authorities of the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) the purple (or violet) color should appear in the "text" below. So the "rainbow that morphs into doves" has six colors (red, yellow, orange, green, light blue, dark blue) and the seventh cooperative color (the purple or violet) appear in the text ("ICA" for English,.. "ACI" for Spanish and French)...

Apparently the colors of this flag are not "Pantone-defined" and sometimes there are little variants of shades from one flag to another. I have seen that in different ICA flags used here in Argentina. The "violet" could be "purple"... The same goes to the "light blue" or "sky blue"... In some flags it is truly the "color of the sky", but other flags do have a darker shade of blue. However the last two colors are two different shades of "blue"... The "purple" (or "violet"!) should be the color of the text. According to the ICA official information .
Francisco Gregoric, 5 December 2004

1925 Flag

[Flag of International Co-operative Alliance]
by Jorge Candeias

The ICA Co-op leaders designed an international co-op symbol and a flag for the first "Co-operators' Day." After some experiments with different designs, the first rainbow flag was completed in 1924 and was adopted as an official symbol of the international co-operative movement in 1925.
Jorge Candeias, 9 January 1999

Canadian Co-operative Association

The Canadian Co-operative Association gives a good idea of what co-operative principles look like in other areas beside housing. It focuses on co-operative businesses in agriculture, finance, insurance, consumer and supply and service sectors. While it has a different focus, its guiding philosophy is the same, "that people, no matter what economic class or education level, know what's best for them and can work together to meet their own needs."
Meaning of the flag:
The rainbow flag has been the co-operative emblem since 1921. Like the rainbow, this flag is a symbol of hope and peace. The seven colors from flags around the world fly in harmony. Each of the seven colors in the flag has a special meaning.
RED stands for courage
ORANGE offers the vision of possibilities
YELLOW represents the challenge that green has kindled
GREEN indicates a challenge to strive for membership growth
SKY BLUE suggests far horizons, the need to provide education and help the less fortunate and unity with all peoples of the world
DARK BLUE represents the less fortunate who can learn to help themselves through co-operation
VIOLET represents warmth, beauty, and friendship
Phil Nelson, 12 August 1999