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John Prendergast, “How the World’s Newest Country Went Awry: Oil, Corruption, and South Sudan’s Senseless War”

War has been hell for South Sudan’s people, but it has been very lucrative for the country’s leaders and commercial collaborators, South Sudan’s war profiteers.  Perhaps two and a half to three million people have perished as a result of three wars in last 60 years.  South Sudan’s history of conflict and mass atrocities driven by unchecked greed.  Ethnicity has been used as the main mobilizer for organized violence.  The ultimate prize is control of a kleptocratic, winner-take-all state whose institutions have been hijacked by officials and their commercial collaborators for the purposes of self-enrichment and brutal repression of dissent.  Corruption isn’t an anomaly within the system; it becomes the system itself, the very purpose of the state.


John Prendergast is a human rights activist and best-selling author who has focused on peace in Africa for over thirty years. He is the Founding Director of the Enough Project, an initiative to end genocide and crimes against humanity. He is also the Co-Founder of The Sentry, a new investigative initiative focused on dismantling the networks financing conflict and atrocities. John has worked for the Clinton White House, the State Department, two members of Congress, the National Intelligence Council, UNICEF, Human Rights Watch, the International Crisis Group, and the U.S. Institute of Peace.  He has been a Big Brother for over 25 years, as well as a youth counselor and a basketball coach.

During his time in government, John was part of the facilitation team behind the successful two-year mediation led by Anthony Lake which ended the 1998-2000 war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, the deadliest war in the world at the time.  He was also part of peace processes for Burundi (led by President Nelson Mandela), Sudan (led by Lazaro Sumbeiywo) and Congo.

Under the Enough Project umbrella, John has helped create a number of initiatives and campaigns.  With George Clooney, he co-founded the Satellite Sentinel Project, which aims to prevent conflict and human rights abuses through satellite imagery. With Tracy McGrady and other NBA stars, John launched the Darfur Dream Team Sister Schools Program to fund schools in Darfurian refugee camps and create partnerships with schools in the United States. Through the Enough Project, he conceived the Raise Hope for Congo Campaign, highlighting the issue of conflict minerals that fuel the war there and supporting a more comprehensive peace process, and its companion Conflict-Free Campus Initiative. He also helped direct the Sudan Now campaign, which supported the holding of a peaceful referendum for South Sudan. 

Sponsored by the Duke University Center for International and Global Studies, the Duke Africa Initiative, the Nicholas School of the Environment, and the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute.



February 2, 2017
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm


Rubenstein 153 (Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room)
Campus Dr.
Durham, NC 27708 United States
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