WASHINGTON – Celebrities are becoming a significant contributing factor to human rights advocacy in Africa.
"Celebrities who use their fame to highlight the plight of some of the world's most vulnerable people are making a real difference. They have educated countless people and shined a light on issues that would otherwise remain shrouded in darkness. By recruiting thousands of people to relatively unknown causes, they help create a real pressure for change,” said Co-founder of the Enough Project John Prendergast, who works closely with many of the organization’s celebrity partners.
The Enough Project, which works to end genocide and crimes against humanity, has partnered with many celebrities to raise awareness about African human rights campaigns that include ending genocide in Sudan, and stopping the deadly conflict mineral trade in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Celebrity partners have advocated for these issues through participating in videos and interviews, traveling with the Enough Project to Africa, writing opinion-editorial pieces, and initiating further efforts to support these growing human rights concerns. For example:
George Clooney traveled to Sudan in October 2010 with John Prendergast, and initiated the Satellite Sentinel Project, which uses cutting edge technology to visually document human rights abuses in Sudan;
In May 2011, actor Javier Bardem participated in a Mother’s Day video with John Prendergast, to educate the public about the conflict minerals trade in the Congo, which was also translated into Spanish;
More recently, Chicago Bulls star and South Sudan native Luol Deng traveled with the Enough Project to South Sudan for the country’s independence. While there he hosted a youth basketball clinic and shot a video about South Sudan featured on the front page of Yahoo!;
And in August 2010, Ashley Judd traveled with the Enough Project to the DR Congo to learn more about the connection between the conflict minerals trade and violence in the region. Upon return, she appeared in two powerful CNN pieces that covered these topics, and raised awareness about the Congo’s deadly mineral trade.
To highlight these and other celebrities who have partnered to date with the Enough Project on various campaigns and initiatives, the Enough Project has launched an online Celebrity Upstanders database. This new web resource includes 44 celebrity profiles that feature video clips, press interviews, and opinion pieces, highlighting each individual celebrity’s involvement with the Enough Project, and its conflict areas in the Sudan, DR Congo, and LRA-affected communities.
The term “Upstander” originated from Samantha Power's book A Problem from Hell. It was also referred to in the book The Enough Moment: Fighting to End Africa's Worst Human Rights Crimes, written by actor/activist Don Cheadle and John Prendergast: "Throughout our lives, we will constantly have choices and opportunities to either become Upstanders or bystanders. If ENOUGH of us choose to be Upstanders, we can help change the course of history.”
Therefore, the many celebrities who have partnered with the Enough Project have become Celebrity Upstanders by raising awareness and making a difference on some of the most difficult human rights issues in the world today.
Enough is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, the Enough Project focuses on crises in Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas of Africa affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough’s strategy papers and briefings provide sharp field analysis and targeted policy recommendations based on a “3P” crisis response strategy: promoting durable peace, providing civilian protection, and punishing perpetrators of atrocities. Enough works with concerned citizens, advocates, and policy makers to prevent, mitigate, and resolve these crises. For more information, please visit www.enoughproject.org.
CNN.com: Ashley Judd confronts Africa's deadly mineral issue
Editor's note: Ashley Judd traveled to eastern Congo, her second time to the region, with John Prendergast of the Enough Project at the Center for American Progress (http://www.enoughproject.org/). Since 2003, Ashley has traveled the world visiting vulnerable populations, especially girls and women, focusing on grassroots solutions that transform and save lives. Amongst other affiliations, she serves on the board of Population Services International. For more information on the campaign against conflict minerals visit raisehopeforcongo.org.
With a dozen humanitarian missions behind her, Ashley Judd has ventured to Africa to challenge the relationship between valuable minerals and unspeakable violence.
She's meeting this week with local businessmen, officials and victims of rape and other atrocities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to raise awareness about the issue of conflict minerals.
Natural resources such as tin, tantalum and tungsten -- which are used to make the world's cell phones, computers and other electronics -- fuel continued violence in Congo, especially mass rapes.