Since Catholic Relief Services began in 1943, our programs have blossomed in many directions. However, much of our work still occurs in places that are recovering from or are on the edge of violence and war. Over time we learned that the way we do our emergency and development programming helps prevent or transform conflicts. If we ignore conflicts and their underlying causes then our work prolongs the conflict by providing new resources to the warring parties (like food and supplies), or our programs are destroyed in the chaos and violence. If we help our partners address the injustices in their society that cause conflict and facilitate respectful relationships between conflicting parties then our work together builds sustainable peace.
Before engaging in peacebuilding, we analyze the conflict context with our partners and the community to decide how best to focus our activities. In some areas, we proactively prevent conflict through human rights education, advocacy or support for microfinance activities. These programs help address social injustices before people see violence as their only option for change.
In places where violent conflicts are ongoing, we try to ensure our emergency relief programming does not exacerbate the conflict, but rather utilizes resources for peaceful change. For example, in some countries CRS works on providing peace education for children in refugee camps or improving relations between refugees and local inhabitants.
In areas recovering from violence, we may help people rebuild their homes, reestablish a viable economy that values all members of society, or help create the social space for the long process of recovering from trauma and reconciling relationships.
Areas of Focus
CRS does peacebuilding work through the following 16 categories of activities:
- Education, Training and Workshops
- Prevention and Early Warning
- Institutions/Peace and Justice Commissions
- Women and Peacebuilding
- Security and Peacebuilding
- Inter-Religious Dialogue
- Business and Micro-Enterprise Development
- Media and Communications
- Development and Reconstruction
- Advocacy and Citizen Diplomacy
- Higher Level Diplomacy
- Intervention Roles
- Trauma Healing and Psychosocial Work
- Emergency Response and Post-Conflict Reconstruction