Catholic Institute for International Relations

Scope and Content

Papers of the Catholic Institute for International Relations (CIIR), notably relating to South Africa, including papers relating to the African National Congress including minutes of meetings, papers on projects; press releases, correspondence and papers on the conference on South African debt rescheduling, Jul 1989. Papers relating to South Africa on topics including prisoners; Nelson Mandela; churches; violence; workers; children and repression; labour and trade unionism; unemployment and migration; women; international monitoring of elections; federalism; sanctions; debt and South Africa's relationship with the UK. Papers relating to other organisations working in South Africa including: Catholic International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity; South Africa Advisory Committee; South Africa Inter Agency Group; Southern Africa Catholic Bishops' Conference; South Africa Council of Churches; National Conference of Churches in South Africa; Johannesburg Democratic Action Committee; Five Freedoms Forum; Southern Africa Coalition; Anti-Apartheid Movement and Christian Concern for South Africa. Papers relating to Zimbabwe including photographs; papers on conferences; CIIR publications on Zimbabwe; papers relating to Zimbabwe Detainees Defence Committee including letters from Robert Mugabe and papers relating to the Zimbabwe Diaspora Development Chamber of Commerce. Papers on other countries and regions with which CIIR had involvement including Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Sri Lanka, Southern Africa, Tanzania and Zambia.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Sword of the Spirit was founded in 1940, in response to the rise of fascism. Although founded by lay Catholics and supported by Cardinal Hinsley the organisation was ecumenical from the start. Its focus was on a just social order. At that stage it looked primarily to Europe. In the 1950s, it widened its brief to inform people in church and society about the international agenda.

In 1965, The Sword of the Spirit was renamed the Catholic Institute for International Relations (CIIR) with an education section and an overseas volunteer programme. In 1966, the overseas volunteer programme became part of the UK government's British Volunteer Programme and was in the most part funded by the Government's Overseas Development Administration (ODA, later the Department for International Development, or DFID). At first, volunteer placements were linked to the church, but the overseas programme gradually took on more of a serious developmental perspective and was not limited to any particular religious affiliation. The programme worked closely with other sending agencies (through the British Volunteer Agencies Liaison Group).

Throughout its history, the organisation has sought to influence church and state, most notably to support liberation struggles, grassroots developments and to strengthen a moral voice against human rights abuses. In the 1970s, following the Second Vatican Council and the statement of the Catholic Church's commitment to the option for the poor, progressive elements in the Church came increasingly to support grassroots liberation movements. CIIR's then education department supported the progressive elements of the Church in various liberation and human rights struggles in Central America, southern Africa and Asia. CIIR published booklets on liberation theology and promoted progressive church speakers. The CIIR, in collaboration with others also undertook detailed policy analysis and innovative work on issues such as drugs, debt and trade.

Early in the 1990s, the overseas programme was renamed International Cooperation for Development (ICD). ICD continued to have ODA funding. Around this time ICD started having national staff in country offices - a vanguard move among development agencies, most of which were still run locally by expatriate staff. Throughout the 1990s, CIIR's education department (by this time renamed the international policy department) faced difficulties. Funding sources were drying up and there was a proliferation of agencies and academic institutions undertaking development policy work. The two approaches remained separate and distinct departments within CIIR until January 2000. After an internal process of reflection, CIIR brought the two departments together into one programme department, combining skill-share and advocacy. In 2006 CIIR changed its name to Progressio.


Original order

Access Information

Open although advance notice should be given. Some items are closed under the Data Protection Act. Enquiries about access should be made to the Library staff.

Acquisition Information

Received by the Institute, 2005.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogued to file level (see link to repository catalogue).

Archivist's Note

Entry compiled by Sarah Drewery.

Conditions Governing Use

A photocopying and digitisation service is available, at the discretion of the Library staff. Copies are supplied solely for research or private study. Requests to publish, or to quote from original material should be submitted to the Information Resources Manager.