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John Prendergast (activist)

John Prendergast (born March 21, 1963) 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] John also serves as Executive Director of Not On Our Watch,[8] founded by Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Brad Pitt, and George Clooney.

John Prendergast
Prendergast in DR Congo in 2010
Prendergast in DR Congo in 2010
Born (1963-03-21) March 21, 1963 (age 55)
Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.
OccupationAuthor, Human Rights Activist
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]



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,[9][10][11] focusing primarily on peace and human rights. At the end of 1996, he joined the National Security Council as Director for African Affairs[12] and thereafter served as a special adviser to Susan Rice at the United States Department of State.[13] As a special adviser, Prendergast was part of the facilitation team behind the successful two-and-a-half-year U.S. effort to broker an end to the Eritrean–Ethiopian War.[14] Prendergast left government in 2001 to become Special Adviser to the President of the International Crisis Group on Africa issues,[15] and in 2007, with Gayle Smith, he co-founded the Enough Project, housed at the Center for American Progress.

Under the Enough Project umbrella, Prendergast has helped create a number of initiatives and campaigns. With George Clooney, he helped launch the Satellite Sentinel Project, which aims to prevent conflict and human rights abuses through satellite imagery. With Tracy McGrady and other NBA players, Prendergast co-founded the Darfur Dream Team: Sister Schools Initiative to fund schools in Darfurian refugee camps and create partnerships with schools in the United States. He helped launch two campaigns under Enough: the Raise Hope for Congo Campaign, highlighting the issue of conflict minerals, and Sudan Now,[16] focused on bringing peace to that embattled country.

Prendergast has written extensively on Africa and is the author or co-author of ten books. His previous two books were co-authored with Don Cheadle: Not On Our Watch, a New York Times bestseller and NAACP non-fiction book of the year,[17] and The Enough Moment: Fighting to End Africa's Worst Human Rights Crimes. His most recent book, Unlikely Brothers,[18] is a dual memoir co-authored with his first little brother in the Big Brothers program. He is currently working on a project concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo with actor Ryan Gosling and New Yorker writer Kelefa Sanneh.[19]

Prendergast has appeared in four episodes of 60 Minutes,[20][21][22][23] and helped create African characters and stories for two episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, one focusing on the recruitment of child soldiers [24] and the other on rape as a war strategy.[25] He has also traveled to Africa with Dateline NBC,[26] ABC’s Nightline,[27] The PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer[28] and CNN’s Inside Africa.

Prendergast has appeared in several documentaries including: Sand and Sorrow, Darfur Now, 3 Points,[29] and War Child.[30] He co-produced Journey Into Sunset,[31] and is Executive Producer of Staging Hope: Acts of Peace in Northern Uganda,[32] both about Northern Uganda, and partnered with Downtown Records and Mercer Street Records to create the compilation album Raise Hope for Congo,[33] combating sexual violence against women and girls in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Jane Bussman was inspired by his work and meetings with him to write The Worst Date Ever,[34] 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 six honorary doctorates,[35] and serves as the Anne Evans Estabrook Human Rights Senior Fellow at Kean University.[36]


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.[37]


  • Unlikely Brothers by John Prendergast and Michael Mattocks, published by Random House, May 17, 2011 ISBN 978-0-307-46484-2
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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


  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. ^ "Not On Our Watch Project". March 17, 2011.
  9. ^ "USIP".
  10. ^ "UNICEF".
  11. ^ "Human Rights Watch".
  12. ^ "Official Delegation Accompanying the President to Africa" (Press release). March 20, 1998.
  13. ^ "Crisis in Darfur". Mother Jones. December 20, 2000.
  14. ^ "U.S. Leadership in Resolving African Conflict: The Case of Ethiopia-Eritrea". Not On Our Watch. September 2001.
  15. ^ "Sudan: Now or Never in Darfur". International Crisis Group. May 23, 2004.
  16. ^ "Sudan Now".
  17. ^ "39th NAACP Image Award Winners". NAACP. Archived from the original on February 12, 2009.
  18. ^ Hendrix, Steve (May 15, 2011). "Redemption through Brotherhood". Washington Post.
  19. ^ "John Prendergast".
  20. ^ "Witnessing Genocide in Sudan". CBS News. August 28, 2005.
  21. ^ "Searching for Jacob". CBS News. October 22, 2006.
  22. ^ "Searching for Jacob,". CBS News. July 16, 2008.
  23. ^ "Congo's Gold". CBS News. November 29, 2009.
  24. ^ "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, "Hell"". NBC. March 31, 2009.
  25. ^ "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, "Witness"". NBC. March 17, 2010.
  26. ^ "Dateline, Winds of War". NBC News. December 3, 2010.
  27. ^ "A View from the Ground on the Killing in Northeast Africa". February 9, 2005.
  28. ^ "Crisis in Sudan". The PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. October 20, 2004.
  29. ^ "3 Points".
  30. ^ "War Child".
  31. ^ "Journey Into Sunset".
  32. ^ "Staging Hope: Acts of Peace in Northern Uganda".
  33. ^ "Raise Hope for Congo".
  34. ^ Bussmann, Jane (2009). The Worst Date Ever. London: Panmacmillan. ISBN 978-0-330-45765-1.
  35. ^ Enough Project biography
  36. ^ "Kean". Kean University. March 2014.
  37. ^ "Prof. Mahmood Mamdani and John Prendergast, "The Darfur Debate"". April 14, 2009.

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