During its 20 years, the Centre has created programs, advocated for systemic reform and helped expand knowlege about restorative justice.

Innovative Programs


The Centre designed the Sycamore Tree Project in 1996. It brings victims into prisons to meet with unrelated groups of offenders for an eight-week discussion of crime and its consequences. The program is used regularly in 34 countries with over 3,500 victims and prisoners participating annually.


Communities of Restoration are based on an innovative methodology (called the “APAC Methodology”) developed 40 years ago by Prison Fellowship Brazil. The Centre conducted a multi-year research project in the late 1990s to determine how the methodology could be replicated in other countries and cultures. There are currently 45 APAC prisons in Brazil and an additional 10 Prison Fellowship affiliates outside of Brazil are running APAC-based Communities of Restoration.

Significant Reforms


From 1995-2002, the Centre worked with members of the UN NGO Alliance on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice to bring restorative justice to the attention of the United Nations. As part of that effort, the Centre led a working group that drafted and advocated for the UN Declaration of Basic Principles on the Use of Restorative Justice Programmes in Criminal Matters. The Economic and Social Council adopted the Declaration of Basic Principles in 2002.


From 2001-03, the Centre worked with Prison Fellowship Rwanda to prepare prisoners accused of genocide to meet their victims, survivors, and community members during that country’s Gacaca hearings. Together we developed the Umuvumu Tree Project, trained local facilitators and implemented the project in Rwanda's genocide prisons and communities. Nine months later, the number of prisoners willing to confess and participate in Gacaca had increased from 5,000 to 40,000. Today, PF Rwanda manages seven “reconciliation villages” in which perpetrators, survivors, and returned exiles live together in peace.


The Centre and Prison Fellowship Colombia conducted the first national symposium on restorative justice for justice system officials in 2003. This led to further interventions: Centre staff testified before Parliamentary committees, addressed the Colombian Senate, and provided training to prosecutors and judges on UN guidelines for using restorative justice. Prison Fellowship Colombia has pioneered use of the Sycamore Tree Project® in cases of homicide and adapted it further to facilitate implementation of peace agreements with paramilitary and guerrilla groups.

Expanded Knowledge 


We launched restorativejustice.org in 1996 and it now receives 450,000 visitors a year. It is updated on an ongoing basis, and features a blog with news of developments around the world, as well as reviews of books and other resources. The site has a substantial introductory section for those who are new to restorative justice, and features the world’s largest annotated bibliography of over 12,000 articles, abstracts, videos and books on restorative justice in a searchable database. Sixty percent of its users are under age 35.


In 2003, 2007 and 2011, the Centre collaborated with Queen’s University in Canada to offer the International Diploma in Restorative Justice. This six-day intensive course explored restorative justice theory and principles, processes and programs, and concluded with students presenting a research paper. A total of 162 students from 51 countries have taken the course.


From 2002-05, the Centre led a research and design project called RJ City to explore how a city of 1 million residents might respond as restoratively as possible to all crimes, all victims and all offenders. The Centre assembled an international advisory panel to help develop the model and presented it to over 200 individuals in a series of interactive workshops in four countries.