International Affairs Expert
John Prendergast is a human rights activist and best-selling author who has worked for peace in Africa for 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. Read More >
John Prendergast on CNN
John Prendergast on Enough Project
How It Ends
2011 First Year Experience Annual Conference
Did you know your laptop is funding the war in the Congo, the deadliest global conflict since World War II? What we buy and how we buy has an impact even if we don't realize it, from the loss of human lives and wildlife to the eradication of cultures, forests and governance. In this presentation, John Prendergast uses everyday consumer items (car keys, diamond earrings, cell phones) to illustrate their connection to war and atrocity in Africa through supply chains where war is being funded. With state institutions hijacked by criminal networks and billions of dollars disappearing due to the corrupt partnership between African leaders and international enablers, including banks, electronic companies and foreign governments, a peaceful future requires transparency, accountability and consumer pressure on offending nations.
John has followed two paths towards making a difference: locally through being a mentor and "Big Brother" to kids whose fathers are absent, and globally through his work for human rights in Africa. A dynamic presenter, John talks about how he stumbled onto both of these paths in his early 20s, and then provides the "ten ingredients" he has used to make a difference throughout these last three decades. In this inspiring talk, John intersperses personal stories of Africa, celebrities and life in general to show how change can happen.
The standard image of Africa is a starving baby, a continent of helplessness and a population ensconced in victimhood. These impressions are reinforced by the media, especially big-budget motion pictures that portray Africans as helpless or inherently violent. However, the reality is far different. In this revelatory talk, John illustrates the differences between "Hollywood Africa" and the African continent as it truly exists today, peeling back the veil of mystery and showing a vibrant, growing society filled with culture and promise.
Genocide has evolved over time since the Holocaust. But the variables going into genocide have remained the same: targeting people on the basis of their identity. The biggest symbol of hope on the horizon regarding efforts to counter genocide is the growing people's movement to stop it from happening. In this motivating presentation, John talks about the power of social movements and how they have been used – and will continue to be used – as the major force in the prevention of genocide and other social atrocities.
"Thank you so much for everything you did to secure John for our event last night. He really was just a delight and his talk was extremely engaging. The feedback has been so great from what I am hearing and John was incredibly generous with his time after the event speaking with audience members. I can't thank you enough, as I really would not have known where to turn for a speaker. I hope that we can continue to work together on this event in the future."
"On behalf of the Manitoba Dental Foundation, the time you spent with us (students of the Global College and the attendees at the Dare to Smile Gala) was remarkably inspiring, meaningful and an important 'call to action' locally and globally. I sincerely hope our paths cross again soon and often. Moreover, we wish you continued success in your pursuit of peace and social justice!"
"Truly a great experience. John made a direct connection to students and wowed our sponsors. I stayed with him for over an hour after the evening event as he took time to meet with every student who approached. Personally, I found him a wonderful and engaging man."
"Addressing current issues in contemporary Africa, John Prendergast spoke to an audience of approximately 400 students, faculty, and lifelong learners at the University of Utah. His humanity and passionate intensity to make Africa a better place were immediately evident. His command over the audience was sure and listeners followed him closely. At the evening event for 250 campus and community members, John again shared his story, detailing his personal introduction to human rights activism, punctuated by humor and spirited anecdotes. He stayed an hour after the event to connect with every student who approached him. Few of our speakers have ever shown this kind of interest and courtesy. Several students remarked that his visit was a transformative event in their lives. It was truly a pleasure to host him."
"John was a huge hit! He is a very stylish and charming fellow with an excellent speaking style. His talk is full of content and passion for his topic. His Q&A was excellent. People had a lot of good questions. After the talk, and determining that he was single, two different people asked him to marry their 43 year old, beautiful, intelligent, single daughters. That's a first for me as program chair, but likely something he hears along the way. It was pretty funny. He took it in good humor. (One Dad was serious. His daughter does similar work in Israel and Palestine). Thank you for your help."