The ITER core charge exchange recombination spectroscopy (core CXRS) diagnostic system is designed to provide experimental access to various measurement quantities in the ITER core plasma such as ion densities, temperatures and velocities. The implementation of the approved CXRS diagnostic principle on ITER faces significant challenges: First, a comparatively low CXRS signal intensity is expected, together with a high noise level due to bremsstrahlung, while the requested measurement accuracy and stability for the core CXRS system go far beyond the level commonly achieved in present-day fusion experiments. Second, the lifetime of the first mirror surface is limited due to either erosion by fast particle bombardment or deposition of impurities. Finally, the hostile technical environment on ITER imposes challenging boundary conditions for the diagnostic integration and operation, including high neutron loads, electro-magnetic loads, seismic events and a limited access for maintenance. A brief overview on the R&D and design activities for the core CXRS system is presented here, while the details are described in parallel papers.