A $20 million gift to the UCLA School of Law will be used to launch an institute that will serve as a national hub for human rights education and advocacy, it was announced Monday.
The Promise Institute for Human Rights will be “generously supported” by proceeds from “The Promise,” a soon-to-be-released feature film set during the Armenian genocide, “as well as other donations and university resources,” according to a statement issued by the law school.
The effort to establish the institute was spearheaded by Dr. Eric Esrailian, a faculty member at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the lead producer of the film.
“The Armenian genocide must never be forgotten, and this need was one reason why we made `The Promise.’ However, human rights tragedies — in Syria, the Congo and South Sudan and a global refugee crisis — continue to unfold today,” Esrailian said.
“The Promise Institute is so named because UCLA and the UCLA School of Law are making a commitment to keep the promise to the victims of human rights abuses — that we will create the tools and train people of integrity and talent to address these crises,” he said. “Out of the darkness of the Armenian genocide and our film, we will bring light into the world to help people who need it today.”
According to the school, the institute “will expand UCLA Law’s course offerings in human rights studies, enhance hands-on programs in human rights law and policy, publish research and policy assessments, bring experienced human rights scholars and practitioners to UCLA Law as faculty members and guest speakers, support students through fellowships and scholarships, and host symposia and related events.”
UCLA Law Dean Jennifer Mnookin said the gift “is a giant step toward making UCLA Law the premier center for human rights in Southern California.”
“While the school already has a strong record of human rights scholarship and activity, the Promise Institute will greatly enhance our program and have an impact felt around the world,” she said.
“Dr. Esrailian and the makers of `The Promise’ have shown extraordinary leadership, and we are thrilled that their commitment permits us to launch an institute that promises to grow into a major academic crossroads for human rights,” Mnookin said.
The gift announcement was made on the same day that UCLA Law hosted a conference on contemporary challenges to human rights, and four days before the film opens on screens across the country.
“The Promise” is set during the Armenian genocide, which began in 1915, when more than 1.5 million people perished in an atrocity driven by ethnic and religious intolerance.
The film is directed by Terry George (“Hotel Rwanda” ) and stars Oscar Isaac, Charlotte Le Bon, Christian Bale and Shohreh Aghdashloo.
Esrailian produced “The Promise” with Phoenix Pictures chairman and fellow UCLA alumnus Mike Medavoy and veteran film producer William Horberg.
Esrailian and Anthony Mandekic, president and CEO of Tracinda Corp., are also the co-managers of Survival Pictures, which was founded by the late Los Angeles businessman and philanthropist Kirk Kerkorian.
— City News Service
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