Main focuses of the work
Foto Erzbischof Oscar Arnulfo Romero
Oscar Arnulfo Romero (1917-1980)

For justice and dignity

Solidarity with the people in the countries of the South shapes the work of the Christian Initiative Romero. The organisation is engaged to improve their lives.

Since 1981 the Christian Initiative Romero (CIR) stands up for Human and Labour Rights in the countries of Central America. The main focus is on the support of grassroots movements and organisations in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala as well as the campaign work and education in Germany. The objective is to build bridges between development countries and Germany through actions of solidarity. In terms of its patron, the Salvadorian archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero who was assassinated in 1980, the Christian Initiative Romero stands up against conditions of injustice and takes sides with the poor.

The beginnings: action out of solidarity

The Christian Initiative Romero emerged from the West-German solidarity movement for Central America at the beginning of the 1980s. During this decade media coverage on this region was mainly focused on civil wars and revolutions .  Today the countries of Central America mostly attract attention in terms of working conditions in factories (producing clothes, car components and computer parts), in mines or on flower and coffee plantations. Under the most indecent conditions these people produce in the countries of Central America for the global market.

The Christian Initiative Romero supports many partners and their projects which aim at improving certain living as well as working conditions. We have tight contacts to women’s, labour and human rights’ organisations in El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua. Hereby, we are able to defy the lies and excuses of big enterprises concerning indecent work conditions in their supply chains. Likewise, we are dedicated to the political and cultural emancipation of the indigenous population as well as the rights of children. A considerable part of our work is furthermore the support of Central American women’s organisations that engage against violence by men.

Campaigns for a decent life

Through campaign work, we want to give the victims of globalisation a voice – therefore, the CIR is a member of initiatives such as the international Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) and part of the CorA-Network for Corporate Accountability. As part of our work, we inform about the precarious work situations in the countries of the south and launch protest activities. But also the dialogue with enterprises is part of our campaign work. By raising awareness of the indecent working conditions in Central America, the enterprises are pressured to act as their publicly displayed positive image is threatened to be damaged by negative headlines.

Within the Clean Clothes Campaign, the CIR publicly confronted big brands like adidas, Puma and C&A with the conditions in the suppliers’ plants. Slowly, this work which was partly followd by a big media response is bearing fruits: Today, a good part of the German retail sales in textiles respects its responsibility. Well-sounding codes of conduct promise the compliance with basic labour rights. But for the most part, controls are deficient. An exception is the brand Hess Natur. A pilot project could be accomplished with the mail-order company that is selling natural textiles. The Christian Initiative Romero played a leading role in the negotiation process for this project.

Critical, constructive – and successful

The campaign work of the Christian Initiative Romero goes back over 25 years: Resulting from the coffee boycott in the 1980s – “Blood on the coffee” – with which we were demonstrating in front of Tchibo stores, we became cofounders of the Transfair label for fair coffee. Today, the CIR is one of the organisations which assist constructively-critically in the efforts to define a code of social and ecological minimum standards in the global coffee cultivation jointly with the cultivators, the traders and the roasting companies.

About 30 years after its foundation, the Christian Initiative Romero is a midsize non-governmental organisation with a donation capacity of about 500,000 Euro each year. The projects of the CIR are in parts financially supported by the European Union, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development as well as the World Day of Prayer.

© 2018 Christliche Initiative Romero e.V.