As President Heads to Kenya and Ethiopia, Report Details Nexus of War and Grand Corruption
July 22, 2015 — In advance of President Obama’s historic trip tomorrow to Kenya and Ethiopia, a report published today by the Enough Project analyzes the president’s policy legacy in key conflict-affected areas in Africa.
The new report, “President Obama in Africa: Countering Violent Kleptocracies Is a Prerequisite for Peace,” details opportunities to address key issues relating to conflict, and the effectiveness of the Obama administration’s initiatives on peace and security, democratic governance, and economic growth in Africa.
The president’s visit will bring him into the heart of a region that has been, over the last two decades, the site of the world’s deadliest conflicts.
John Prendergast, Founding Director of the Enough Project, said: “For President Obama to ensure that his signature efforts have positive impact in regions of Africa that have been torn apart by deadly conflict, a dedicated focus for the last 18 months of his administration is required on the core source of instability and autocracy in these countries, the violent kleptocracies, or highly corrupt systems that are closely linked to conflict.”
Akshaya Kumar, Sudan and South Sudan Policy Analyst at the Enough Project, said: “When confronted with grotesque human rights abuses like the ones taking place in the context of Africa’s deadliest wars, we often speak of the international community’s moral obligation to help or a broad responsibility to protect those at risk. But, the cold hard truth is that there are people who profit from the war economies and the grand corruption that enables these wars to persist. Businessmen, banks, and consumers in countries like the United States, India and China bear another type of responsibility too: that of complicity.”
Sasha Lezhnev, Associate Director of Policy at the Enough Project, said: “President Obama has had some important successes in dealing with conflict in Africa, for example in helping dramatically reduce the killings of Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army. But there is still not enough focus on holding the financiers and perpetrators of mass atrocities accountable. The President should help the Treasury and Justice Departments devote more resources to African conflicts to investigate, sanction, and prosecute those most responsible for war crimes in Africa.”
The report highlights specific challenges and opportunities in South Sudan, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Central African Republic, and offers recommendations to address and help to dismantle the financing and profiteering in Africa’s deadliest conflicts:
- Targeted sanctions: The United States, the U.N. Security Council, the African Union, and the European Union should prioritize targeted sanctions against individuals, companies, and others that facilitate grand corruption, participate in illicit natural resource trade (including conflict gold), and commit atrocities in conflicts in Africa. Furthermore, the Secretary of the Treasury should direct more resources toward African sanctions enforcement investigations in the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).
- Prosecutions: The U.S. Office of Global Criminal Justice should encourage and support efforts to investigate and prosecute the war crime of pillage—theft in the time of war, including large-scale theft of natural resources and wildlife trafficking. The International Criminal Court (ICC), hybrid courts, and national prosecutors could more effectively pursue these pillage investigations and prosecutions with U.S. support.
- Asset recovery and return: The U.S. Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section (AFMLS), in leading the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, should investigate and locate the proceeds of grand corruption in conflict countries.
Today, the Enough Project also joined a diverse community of 19 advocacy, faith and human rights organizations issuing an open letter to President Obama. The letter urges the president, as he embarks on his trip to Kenya and Ethiopia, to press for a solution to the ongoing crisis in South Sudan. The letter stresses the need for greater regional cooperation to pressure the warring parties to make necessary concessions for a sustainable peace in South Sudan, including accountability for economic and atrocity crimes.
For more background, read the new op-ed by John Prendergast in TIME Magazine: “President Obama Must Help Tackle Africa’s Hijacked States.”
About THE ENOUGH PROJECT
The Enough Project 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 www.EnoughProject.org