photo by jon nicholson

feature story - CNN’s Fareed Zakaria Talks with Board Member George Clooney about Satellite Sentinel Project

january 11th, 2011

On Sunday, as Sudanese voters participated in the first day of a week-long referendum on self-determination, CNN’s "Fareed Zakaria GPS" aired an interview with board members George Clooney and John Prendergast.

The pair of human rights activists told CNN (and as many as 280 million CNN-I viewers around the world) about the use of satellite imagery to detect and deter human rights crimes in Darfur and southern Sudan by denying deniability and promoting greater accountability.

Clooney talked about his work on the Satellite Sentinel Project: “Well, the idea is to try to prevent humanrights abuses before they occur by shining a spotlight on places.”

The project aims to deter full-scale war from resuming between northern and southern Sudan. It uses satellite imagery and Google Map Maker, combined with field reports, policy analysis, and tools to involve the public in pressuring policymakers to respond quickly and appropriately. The goal is to provide an early warning system for human rights and human security concerns that may arise.

Prendergast said:

“The idea is to try to prevent human rights abuses before they occur, by shining a spotlight on the places, on the locations along the border between the North and the South, where the possibility exists that if there is conflict, if there is a crisis that will erupt, it will be in those places. And the idea is, if we can put a spotlight on those areas, and ensure that photography – that satellite imagery – 24 or 48 hours after the fact, can be beamed around the world, if there is large scale troop movement, if there are movements of tanks, if there are other kinds of provocative actions or offensive actions – if those can be broadcast around the world, perhaps it will have a deterrent value. So our goal with the Satellite Sentinel Project is deterrence and ultimately accountability."

Clooney praised the Obama’s administration’s leadership role in responding recently to crises in Sudan and Darfur: “The president gets daily memos on the situation in Sudan now; he’s very much involved,” said Clooney. “They have since the beginning of September really stepped it up and made a huge difference in where we are now in terms of a peaceful separation.”

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