John Prendergast (activist)

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John Prendergast
Prendergast in DR Congo in 2010
Prendergast in DR Congo in 2010
BornIndianapolis, Indiana, U.S.
OccupationAuthor, Human Rights Activist
Alma materTemple University, American University
Notable awardsHuffington Post 2011 Game Changer Award[1]

United Nations Correspondents Association Citizen of the World Award[2] Lyndon Baines Johnson Moral Courage Award[3] Princeton University Crystal Tiger Award[4] U.S. State Department Distinguished Service Award

The Center for African Peace and Conflict Resolution Peace Award[5]

John Prendergast is an American human rights and anti-corruption activist, author, and former Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council. He is the Founding Director of the Enough Project,[6] a nonprofit human rights organization, and co-founder with George Clooney of The Sentry.[7]


In the latter half of the 1980s and the first half of the 1990s, Prendergast worked for a variety of organizations in the U.S. and Africa,[8][9][10] focusing primarily on peace and human rights. At the end of 1996, he joined the National Security Council as Director for African Affairs[11] and thereafter served as a special adviser to Susan Rice at the United States Department of State.[12] As a special adviser, Prendergast was a member of the team behind the successful two-and-a-half-year U.S. effort to broker an end to the Eritrean–Ethiopian War.[13] Prendergast left government in 2001 to become Special Adviser to the President of the International Crisis Group on Africa issues,[14] and in 2007, with Gayle Smith, he co-founded the Enough Project, housed at the Center for American Progress. He is also co-founder with George Clooney of The Sentry, an investigative initiative created to uncover the financial networks behind conflicts in Africa. Together they also co-founded the Satellite Sentinel Project[15], which aimed to prevent conflict and human rights abuses through satellite imagery.[16]

Prendergast has written extensively on Africa and is the author or co-author of eleven books. His latest book is Congo Stories: Battling Five Centuries of Exploitation and Greed (2018), co-authored with Congolese activist Fidel Bafilemba and featuring photographs by Ryan Gosling He is currently working on a project concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo with Gosling and New Yorker writer Kelefa Sanneh.[17]

Prendergast has appeared in five episodes of 60 Minutes[18][19][20][21][22] and traveled to Africa with Dateline NBC,[23] ABC’s Nightline,[24] The PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer[25] and CNN’s Inside Africa, Newsweek/The Daily Beast, and The New York Times Magazine.[26]

Prendergast appeared the documentaries Sand and Sorrow, Darfur Now, 3 Points,[27] and War Child.[28] He co-produced Journey Into Sunset,[29] and is Executive Producer of Staging Hope: Acts of Peace in Northern Uganda,[30] both about Northern Uganda.

Jane Bussmann was inspired by his work and meetings with him to write her 2012 book The Worst Date Ever: or How it Took a Comedy Writer to Expose Joseph Kony and Africa's Secret War,[31] a comic/tragic story of her attempt as a novice foreign correspondent to expose the truth about the war in Uganda.

Prendergast has been a visiting professor at many universities and colleges, including Yale Law School, Stanford University, and Columbia University. He has been awarded seven honorary doctorates,[32] and serves as the Anne Evans Estabrook Human Rights Senior Fellow at Kean University.[33]


Prendergast's activism has been criticized by Mahmood Mamdani as simplistic, counter-productive, and detrimental to the reality on the ground, especially regarding Darfur and Northern Uganda.[34]


  • Peace, Development, and People of the Horn of Africa, by John Prendergast, Bread for the World (Organization). Institute on Hunger & Development, Center of Concern (Washington, D.C.), published by Center of Concern, 1992 ISBN 978-0-9628058-2-0
  • Civilian Devastation: Abuses by All Parties in the War in Southern Sudan, by Jemera Rone, John Prendergast, Karen Sorensen, Human Rights Watch/Africa, Human Rights Watch (Organization), published by Human Rights Watch, 1994 ISBN 978-1-56432-129-9
  • Without Troops & Tanks: The Emergency Relief Desk and the Cross Border Operation into Eritrea and Tigray, by Mark R. Duffield, John Prendergast, published by The Red Sea Press, 1994 ISBN 978-1-56902-003-6
  • Crisis Response: Humanitarian Band-aids in Sudan and Somalia, principal author, John Prendergast, Inc NetLibrary, NetLibrary, Inc., published by Center of Concern, 1997 ISBN 978-0-585-38030-8
  • Frontline Diplomacy: Humanitarian Aid and Conflict in Africa, by John Prendergast, Center of Concern (Washington, D.C.), published by L. Rienner, 1996 ISBN 978-1-55587-696-8
  • God, Oil & Country: Changing the Logic of War in Sudan, principal author, John Prendergast, published by International Crisis Group, (Africa Report, 39), January 28, 2002 ASIN: B000FPCBP
  • Blood and Soil: Land, Politics and Conflict Prevention in Zimbabwe and South Africa, by John Prendergast, published by International Crisis Group, 2004 ISBN 978-0-9760853-0-0
  • Crafting Peace: Strategies to Deal with Warlords in Collapsing States, by Sasha Lezhnev, John Prendergast, published by Lexington Books, 2006 ISBN 978-0-7391-1765-1
  • Not On Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond, by Don Cheadle, John Prendergast, published by Hyperion, 2007 ISBN 978-1-4013-0335-8
  • The Enough Moment: Fighting to End Africa's Worst Human Rights Crimes by John Prendergast with Don Cheadle, published by Random House, 2010 ISBN 978-0-307-46482-8
  • Unlikely Brothers by John Prendergast and Michael Mattocks, published by Random House, May 17, 2011 ISBN 978-0-307-46484-2
  • Congo Stories: Battling Five Centuries of Exploitation and Greed by John Prendergast and Fidel Bafilemba, published by Grand Central Publishing, December 4, 2018 ISBN 978-1-4555-8464-2


  1. ^ Hoffer, Steven (October 19, 2011). "Huffington Post 2011 Game Changers".
  2. ^ "United Nations Correspondents Association Citizen of the World Award".
  3. ^ "Lyndon Baines Johnson Moral Courage Award".
  4. ^ "Princeton University Crystal Tiger Award".
  5. ^ "The Center for African Peace and Conflict Resolution Peace Award".
  6. ^ "Enough Project". September 11, 2014.
  7. ^ "The Sentry".
  8. ^ "USIP".
  9. ^ "UNICEF".
  10. ^ "Human Rights Watch".
  11. ^ "Official Delegation Accompanying the President to Africa" (Press release). March 20, 1998.
  12. ^ "Crisis in Darfur". Mother Jones. December 20, 2000.
  13. ^ "U.S. Leadership in Resolving African Conflict: The Case of Ethiopia-Eritrea". Not On Our Watch. September 2001.
  14. ^ "Sudan: Now or Never in Darfur". International Crisis Group. May 23, 2004.
  15. ^ "Satellite Sentinel Project".
  16. ^ "George Clooney, MTV team up on Sudan Satellite Sentinel Project". Film Industry Network. January 8, 2011.
  17. ^ "John Prendergast".
  18. ^ "Witnessing Genocide in Sudan". CBS News. August 28, 2005.
  19. ^ "Searching for Jacob". CBS News. October 22, 2006.
  20. ^ "Searching for Jacob,". CBS News. July 16, 2008.
  21. ^ "Congo's Gold". CBS News. November 29, 2009.
  22. ^ "Fighting Famine in War-Torn South Sudan" March 19, 2017
  23. ^ "Dateline, Winds of War". NBC News. December 3, 2010.
  24. ^ "A View from the Ground on the Killing in Northeast Africa". February 9, 2005.
  25. ^ "Crisis in Sudan". The PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. October 20, 2004.
  26. ^ "An American Puts Sudan's Cause in the Spotlight". New York Times Magazine. December 2, 2010.
  27. ^ "3 Points".
  28. ^ "War Child".
  29. ^ "Journey Into Sunset".
  30. ^ "Staging Hope: Acts of Peace in Northern Uganda".
  31. ^ Bussmann, Jane (2009). The Worst Date Ever. London: Panmacmillan. ISBN 978-0-330-45765-1.
  32. ^ Enough Project biography
  33. ^ "Kean". Kean University. March 2014.
  34. ^ "Prof. Mahmood Mamdani and John Prendergast, "The Darfur Debate"". April 14, 2009.

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