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“As it stands now, war crimes pay”
John Prendergast Briefs Security Council in First-Ever Session on Corruption and Conflict, Calls for New and Robust Financial Actions to Support Peace

September 10, 2018 (United Nations Headquarters, New York) – Today, the U.N. Security Council held its first-ever session on the critical connection between corruption and conflict. John Prendergast, Founding Director at the Enough Project and Co-Founder of The Sentry, and U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres were the two featured speakers at the historic briefing.

Click here for full remarks by John Prendergast at the UN Security Council briefing.

Selected excerpts from Prendergast’s remarks:

  • “Throughout history, war may have been hell, but for small groups of conflict profiteers it has also been very lucrative. Today’s deadliest conflicts in Africa — such as those in South Sudan, Somalia, northern Nigeria, Sudan, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo — are sustained by extraordinary opportunities for illicit self-enrichment that emerge in war economies, where there is a visible nexus between grand corruption and mass atrocities.”
  • “As it stands now, war crimes pay. In order for peace to have any chance, those benefiting from the human misery wrought by conflicts around the world need to pay a price, whether financial, legal, or political, and the corrupt systems that underlie them need to be ended.”
  • “Until the Security Council and other interested parties with potential influence can create leverage to change these dynamics, the bottom line is that war is more beneficial than peace for those at the center of conflict and corruption.” 
  • "Remarkably, and regrettably, there is currently no coordinated strategy to gain this necessary leverage to disrupt the illicit siphoning of money by leaders and their foreign business partners, to break the link between corruption and conflict. Every year, billions of aid dollars pour into Africa. UN agencies, taxpayers, and donors around the world fund peacekeeping forces, state-building programs, humanitarian assistance, elections, and peace processes. But none of this support has been able to keep corrupt leaders and their network of beneficiaries from stealing billions of dollars because the diplomats leading these efforts have no leverage to change the systems that perpetuate conflict… This is not about regime change. It is about system change."
  • “The policy tools that can provide the UN Security Council and other interested parties with maximal leverage are three-fold: a network-focused approach to sanctions that focus on grand corruption; anti-money laundering measures that focus on illicit movement of money through the international financial system; and prosecutions that focus on financial crimes associated with atrocities.”
  • “Ultimately, these tools of financial pressure are not an end in themselves, but should be deployed in the context of a comprehensive strategy that intensifies diplomacy and supports institutions of accountability and transparency.”
  • “In order for peace to have any chance, those benefiting from the human misery wrought by conflicts around the world need to pay a price, whether financial, legal, or political, and the corrupt systems that underlie them need to be ended.”

Initiated by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley as the United States takes up the rotating U.N. Security Council Presidency, the session highlighted the major role that corruption plays in fueling and extending conflict and instability, and undermining peace processes. 

Click here for full remarks by John Prendergast at the UN Security Council briefing.

Click here for a short Explainer on Multilateral Tools to Counter Corruption Linked to Conflict.

Click here for the UN Security Council session video and details (available shortly.)

Click here for remarks by Ambassador Haley at the UN Security Council briefing.

For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact: Greg Hittelman, Director of Communications, +1 310 717 0606, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


The Sentry is composed of financial forensic investigators, policy analysts, and regional experts who follow the dirty money and build investigative cases focusing on the corrupt transnational networks most responsible for Africa’s deadliest conflicts. By creating a significant financial cost to these kleptocrats through network sanctions, anti-money laundering measures, prosecutions, and other tools, The Sentry aims to disrupt the profit incentives for mass atrocities and oppression, and creates new leverage in support of peace efforts and African frontline human rights defenders. The Sentry’s partner, the Enough Project, undertakes high-level advocacy with policy-makers around the world as well as wide-reaching education campaigns by mobilizing students, faith-based groups, celebrities, and others. Co-founded by George Clooney and John Prendergast, The Sentry is an initiative of Not On Our Watch (NOOW) and the Enough Project. The Sentry currently focuses its work in South Sudan, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, and the Central African Republic.

In less than two years, The Sentry has created hard-hitting reports and converted extensive research into a large volume of dossiers on individuals and entities connected to grand corruption, violence, or serious human rights abuses. The investigative team has turned those dossiers over to government regulatory and law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and around the world, as well as to compliance officers at the world’s largest banks.

Learn more at www.TheSentry.org.


The Enough Project supports peace and an end to mass atrocities in Africa’s deadliest conflict zones. Together with its investigative initiative The Sentry, Enough counters armed groups, violent kleptocratic regimes, and their commercial partners that are sustained and enriched by corruption, criminal activity, and the trafficking of natural resources. By helping to create consequences for the major perpetrators and facilitators of atrocities and corruption, Enough seeks to build leverage in support of peace and good governance. Enough conducts research in conflict zones, engages governments and the private sector on potential policy solutions, and mobilizes public campaigns focused on peace, human rights, and breaking the links between war and illicit profit. Learn more – and join us – at www.EnoughProject.org.

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