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Core Program Areas

Agriculture Education Emergencies Health HIV and AIDS Microfinance Peacebuilding Water and Sanitation

Cross-Cutting Areas

Capacity Strengthening Climate Change ICT4D IHD Monitoring and Evaluation Youth


Historically CRS has worked on many activities related to peace and justice, and in the 1990s the organization began to focus more explicitly on them. This grew in large part out of experiences in East Africa and the Balkans, with the Rwanda genocide being a strong catalyst.

Peacebuilding emerged as one of the organization’s top priorities following a yearlong consultation process that culminated in a World Summit in 2000. The visionary statement that emerged from the summit committed the agency to helping to “build a culture of peace throughout the world based on a foundation of justice and reconciliation.”

As part of a strategy review in 2006 a more detailed strategic framework was developed.  The overarching goal is that “Our one human family, in solidarity with its poor and vulnerable members outside the U.S., transforms conflict nonviolently and advances justice and reconciliation.”  CRS and its partners work toward their peacebuilding goals through three key objectives: improving social cohesion, promoting justice for poor and marginalized people, and increasing Church and inter-faith engagement and effectiveness in peacebuilding.

CRS’ ability to deliver quality results has made the organization a valued partner of local NGOs, faith-based groups and secular groups; and gained the respect of donors such as USAID, UNDP, EU, and AusAid.  In 2008, CRS supported peacebuilding work in 112 projects in 53 countries with an annual investment of $24 million. One project that illustrates well how CRS works to build peace is the agency’s work in Kenya. This video shows how CRS and its partners helped reconcile Kenyans following the violence in 2008 through peace meetings, counseling, community projects and more.

A multifaceted approach rooted in partnership

A focus on root causes. CRS pairs peacebuilding with justice to ensure that its activities address the root causes of conflicts and not just symptoms. Justice provides the vision and standards for peace while peacebuilding focuses on the process of how to get there.

Working extensively with local implementing partners. CRS has a vast network of local partners, including faith-based, secular, governmental, and civil society. CRS partners with local Catholic Church organizations in roughly half of its peacebuilding initiatives.  This provides an ongoing and extensive presence, trust, and synergy between service and advocacy. CRS Church partners are particularly effective in mobilizing large constituencies for peace and seen as credible advocates able to reach remote communities and the highest levels of government.   

Strengthening capacity of participants, partners and staff. CRS has an integrated capacity-strengthening approach to peacebuilding, including training, the development of curricula and training manuals, and the development of situation assessment, program design and implementation tools. CRS regularly engages in inquiry to learn from past errors and successes.  The CRS approach to learning involves learning alliances with universities, case study documentation and analysis, and project and program evaluation.  

Holistic programming. Integrating relief, development and peacebuilding:  Events in the mid 1990s led CRS to develop and apply a social analysis tool, the Integral Human Development (IHD) framework to every activity of CRS. The IHD framework helps relief and development professionals analyze needs in a holistic manner and design comprehensive programs that connect short-term responses to longer-term development, laying the seeds for long-term peace even during an emergency.