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Enough Project’s Prendergast: Violent Kleptocracies Threaten Africa’s Future

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Enough Project’s Prendergast: Violent Kleptocracies Threaten Africa’s Future

Posted by Enough Team on October 18, 2016


New policy brief by Enough Founding Director details how corrupt networks have hijacked states in East and Central Africa, and how the resulting kleptocratic systems can be dismantled

In a new policy brief published today, John Prendergast, Founding Director of the Enough Project, details the devastation caused by violent kleptocracies in some African states, and offers a set of innovative recommendations to dismantle those corrupt and violent systems. In the 4-page brief, “Violent Kleptocracies: How they’re destroying parts of Africa and how they can be dismantled,” Prendergast argues that existing approaches to stopping mass atrocities and ending war in Africa have not succeeded, and major new policy approaches are required.

The brief is the first in the Enough Project’s new report series “Violent Kleptocracy: Corruption and Conflict in East and Central Africa.”

The brief describes how elite networks have captured and maintained control of state institutions using extreme violence, and how those orchestrating the wars in East and Central Africa, along with their international collaborators, are vulnerable due to illicit money flows, corrupt dealings, money laundering, and fixed assets abroad. Anti-money laundering tools, asset recovery measures, and aggressive Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement have not yet been used in the service of peace and human rights in Africa, but, according to the brief, they could and should be.


  • The Problem – Mass Atrocities and Hijacked States:

“Millions of people have suffered and perished in the ongoing wars in East and Central Africa, including Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, and the Central African Republic. The big prize in these deadly conflicts is the control of a hijacked state and the natural resource wealth of the country. This enables mass looting of state resources and diverting state budgets into military and security spending to perpetrate wars and to maintain power by any means necessary.”

  • The Solution – A New Approach to Stopping Mass Atrocities:

Because existing approaches to stopping mass atrocities and ending war in Africa have not succeeded, a major change in policy is needed. The Enough Project’s recommendations are threefold, with a focus on dismantling the kleptocratic networks that have hijacked states in conflict, reforming incentive structures away from war and toward peace, and helping to build functional and transparent state institutions.”

“Key tools of financial pressure, most successful when applied together:

– Highly targeted and aggressively enforced sanctions aimed at leading government and private officials and entities, along with their corresponding networks, which can include family members complicit in hiding funds or in acting as shareholders in companies controlled by the officials. These sanctions would include both asset freezes and travel bans.

– Anti-money laundering tools that focus on supporting efforts by banks to freeze offenders out of the international financial system.

– Asset recovery mechanisms including civil actions and prosecutions that lead to the freezing, seizing, and returning of assets stolen by war leaders and their international collaborators.

– Aggressive Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement.”

  • The Endgame – A Functional State that Prioritizes Peace and Human Rights:

In the long term, peace and human rights in East and Central Africa—as anywhere—require transparent governance marked by effective checks and balances and concerted efforts at addressing root causes of conflict and corruption. Thus, good governance and anti-corruption tools are fundamental to enabling long-term peace and human security.”

“Longer-term tools and approaches:

– Peace processes that address systemic causes rather than just symptoms

– Greater support for civil society organizations working for peace, human rights, and good governance

– Real accountability measures for financial and human rights crimes

– Equitable management of natural resource wealth in the public interest

– Responsible management of public finances

– Governance reforms

– Budget and contracting transparency

– Security sector reform

– Effective demobilization and reintegration programs”

Click here to read the full policy brief: “Violent Kleptocracies: How they’re destroying parts of Africa and how they can be dismantled”

For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact:
Greg Hittelman, Director of Communications, +1 310 717 0606[email protected].

The Enough Project, an atrocity prevention policy group, seeks to build leverage for peace and justice in Africa by helping to create real consequences for the perpetrators and facilitators of genocide and other mass atrocities. Enough aims to counter rights-abusing armed groups and violent kleptocratic regimes that are fueled by grand corruption, transnational crime and terror, and the pillaging and trafficking of minerals, ivory, diamonds, and other natural resources. Enough conducts field research in conflict zones, develops and advocates for policy recommendations, supports social movements in affected countries, and mobilizes public campaigns. Learn more – and join us – at