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John Prendergast (activist)

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]

John Prendergast
Prendergast in DR Congo in 2010
Prendergast in DR Congo in 2010
BornIndianapolis, 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,[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.

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.[15]

Prendergast has appeared in five episodes of 60 Minutes[16][17][18][19][20] and traveled to Africa with Dateline NBC,[21] ABC’s Nightline,[22] The PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer[23] and CNN’s Inside Africa.

Prendergast appeared the documentaries Sand and Sorrow, Darfur Now, 3 Points,[24] and War Child.[25] He co-produced Journey Into Sunset,[26] and is Executive Producer of Staging Hope: Acts of Peace in Northern Uganda,[27] 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,[28] 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,[29] and serves as the Anne Evans Estabrook Human Rights Senior Fellow at Kean University.[30]


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.[31]


  • 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. ^ "John Prendergast".
  16. ^ "Witnessing Genocide in Sudan". CBS News. August 28, 2005.
  17. ^ "Searching for Jacob". CBS News. October 22, 2006.
  18. ^ "Searching for Jacob,". CBS News. July 16, 2008.
  19. ^ "Congo's Gold". CBS News. November 29, 2009.
  20. ^ "Fighting Famine in War-Torn South Sudan" March 19, 2017
  21. ^ "Dateline, Winds of War". NBC News. December 3, 2010.
  22. ^ "A View from the Ground on the Killing in Northeast Africa". February 9, 2005.
  23. ^ "Crisis in Sudan". The PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. October 20, 2004.
  24. ^ "3 Points".
  25. ^ "War Child".
  26. ^ "Journey Into Sunset".
  27. ^ "Staging Hope: Acts of Peace in Northern Uganda".
  28. ^ Bussmann, Jane (2009). The Worst Date Ever. London: Panmacmillan. ISBN 978-0-330-45765-1.
  29. ^ Enough Project biography
  30. ^ "Kean". Kean University. March 2014.
  31. ^ "Prof. Mahmood Mamdani and John Prendergast, "The Darfur Debate"". April 14, 2009.

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