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Take Action for South Sudan and Congo

On September 10th, the United Nations Security Council held a historic session on the role that corruption plays in fueling violent conflict and atrocities around the world.

John Prendergast, Enough’s Founding Director and co-Founder of The Sentry, briefed Security Council members on the urgent need for the international community to take action to address this crisis. In his remarks Prendergast stated, “throughout history, war may have been hell, but for small groups of conflict profiteers it has also been very lucrative.”

In countries like South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo), it is imperative that the Security Council lead the international community’s efforts to move beyond mere recognition of this problem and toward meaningful action and impact to promote peace an incentive structure that is more centralized and focused in the form of powerful tools of financial leverage such as network sanctions, anti-money laundering measures, and strengthened prosecutions by the ICC and other courts can change the incentive structure for the violent kleptocrats that cling to power while exploiting their countries’ natural resources and financial assets for self-enrichment.

In South Sudan, the political and military leaders who are accountable for violence have profited from the war economy while diplomatic initiatives lack the necessary leverage to ensure implementation of any peace agreement. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, President Kabila and his cohorts have relied heavily on violence to impede the country’s need for development and peace, by repressing and dividing the opposition and civil society by exacerbating local conflicts.

In order to sustainably change the calculations of leaders in South Sudan and Congo, implementation of network sanctions backed by strong enforcement is necessary. It would create important pressure in an area of vulnerability and have a dramatic effect in South Sudan and Congo where kleptocractic networks involving political and military officials and their international financial facilitators profit from conflict and stymie the efforts of the United Nations and the international community.

The policy tools that could provide the UN Security Council to maximize leverage:

  • A network-focused approach to sanctions that focus on grand corruption
  • Anti-money laundering measure that focus on illicit movement of money through the international financial system
  • Prosecutions that focus on financial crimes associated with atrocities

In essence, the Security Council has the potential to influence and create consequences for the violent kleptocrats, war criminals, and those profiting from violence and suffering. Using the tools of financial pressure in support of peace, human rights and good government where there are conflicts and to finally dismantle the system that incentivizes those in power for personal enrichment.

As Prendergast stated “this is not about regime change. It is about system change.” And in order for peace to stand a chance those benefiting from the plight of human suffering there must be dire consequences imposed.

In his closing remarks, Mr. Prendergast summarized what is needed from the Security Council members: “As it stands now, war crimes pay. Dictatorship and conflict facilitate the looting. Unless we target that equation, the mass suffering will continue.”

Send a message

Send a message to the Security Council Members to help ensure war crimes don’t pay, and help lead the charge in fighting the nexus between conflict and corruption.