Unlike other well-known human rights organizations, we work exclusively in Central America. Our deep knowledge and regional network give Cristosal a unique ability to detect broader patterns and bring together the expertise needed to make real progress on human rights issues.
We protect and defend human rights in Central America through a comprehensive strategy that includes:
- Direct programming with victims of human rights violations (legal services, social and emotional support, organizing, training, and community development)
- Educating and mobilizing the public to engage in civic action in favor of human rights
- Engaging with media to build public awareness about important issues and human impacts of human rights violations
- Working with governments at different levels to bring human rights focus to policy and service to the public.
Where We Work
Our Theory of Change
Cristosal’s theory of change begins with the idea that victims of human rights violations have rights which are established both in domestic law—primarily the constitutions—and international human rights frameworks and instruments. This is what we mean when we say they are “subjects of rights”. From there, we focus on the responsibilities of States towards all people as “duty bearers”. Governments have an obligation especially towards those who are in vulnerable conditions, such as victims of violence and violations of their fundamental rights.
We often begin by providing assistance and accompaniment to victims and the collectives to which they belong at the moment they require more support. Then we work towards building their capacities and knowledge, so they are in a better position to demand respect for their rights and to demand from the State and other actors the guarantee of rights for others like them. When victims and their groups make progress in the recognition of their rights, they organize and mobilize to demand that government actors at the local, national and regional levels recognize their responsibilities to respect and protect human rights through their actions, institutions, laws and policies.