Who is profiting from African conflicts? George Clooney wants to find out
George Clooney is out to catch the bad guys again. But this time, he’s not doing it on the big screen.
Collaborating with human rights activist John Prendergast, the ‘Tomorrowland’ star just launched an investigative project called The Sentry.
Created under the umbrella of The Enough Project, another brainchild of Mr. Prendergast, The Sentry plans to track down the funders and beneficiaries of Africa’s deadliest conflicts. It will rely on open source data collection, field research, and network analysis technology to analyze how key players finance, sustain, and monetize conflict.
“Real leverage for peace and human rights will come when the people who benefit from war will pay a price for the damage they cause,” Mr. Clooney said in astatement.
The Sentry’s analysts will collaborate with local and international civil society organizations, journalists, and governments. The project will also depend on anonymous tips, leaks, and information submitted through its website’s secure portal.
For those who aren’t familiar with Africa’s conflicts and the key figures involved, The Sentry published summaries tracing the web of corruption, violence, and kleptocracy in four African countries.
“Countries such as Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo are often referred to as failed states, but in reality, they should be considered hijacked states,” the site reads.
“In these states, high-level corruption linked to violence is not anomalous; it constitutes the actual system of governance.”
This isn’t the first time Clooney’s delved into activism. In 2010, he and Prendergast, former Africa director for the National Security Council, launched the Satellite Sentinel Project.
Aimed at mapping human rights violations in northern and southern Sudan, the project uses satellite imagery and analysis to monitor and document threats to civilians in both countries.
“We want to let potential perpetrators of genocide and other war crimes know that we’re watching,” said Clooney in a 2010 statement. “It’s a lot harder to commit mass atrocities in the glare of the media spotlight.”
While it’s too early to tell whether The Sentry’s tracking will influence the perpetrators in Africa’s conflicts, Clooney and Prendergast claim their alternative methods provide more enhanced paths towards the truth and more accountability than traditional efforts.
“Conventional tools of diplomacy usually have not helped end conflicts because they don’t alter the calculations of those fueling war and committing atrocities,” Prendergast said in a statement.
“Given the current profitability of conflict, new efforts must center on how to make war more costly than peace. The objective of The Sentry is to follow the money and deny those war profiteers the proceeds from their crimes.”