WASHINGTON (7/25/11)--The U.S. Senate on Friday officially joined the United Nations in observing 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives (IYC) by passing a resolution. The resolution was introduced earlier this year by Sens. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and Thad Cochran (R-Miss). The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) earlier this year wrote senators seeking their support for the resolution, which promotes the establishment of a 2012 International Year of Cooperatives committee and generally highlights the benefits that cooperative businesses provide to the nation. The IYC will officially begin on Oct. 31, 2011 when the U.N. Secretary General gives a speech before the United Nations General Assembly. Recognition events will then extend throughout the remainder of 2011 and into 2012. The theme for the international year is "Cooperative Enterprises Build a Better World." CUNA and the World Council of Credit Unions have already dovetailed that theme with this year's International Credit Union Day on Oct. 18, whose theme is "Credit Unions Build a Better World." CUNA last month approved its own recognition resolution, pledging to "lead efforts to engage the credit union community in the promotion of International Year of Cooperative Activities." CUNA is also taking part in a National Cooperative Business Association-led steering committee that will work to raise the profile of cooperatives, improve access to cooperative business, and reach out to government officials and the youth of the world to educate them on cooperative business. The 7,400 U.S.-based credit unions represent the largest segment of the more than 29,000 American cooperative businesses, holding nearly $1 trillion in assets and serving more than 92 million consumers.