Centers Of Excellence

The Promise Institute for Human Rights

The Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA School of Law is the center of human rights education, research and advocacy at UCLA and around the region.

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The Future of Human Rights

The Promise Institute develops leaders and works towards solutions for the human rights challenges of our times: Ending impunity. Creating accountability for atrocities. Securing rights and remedies for those in conflict zones.

Projects

Advancing Human Rights

The Promise Institute's research and advocacy focuses on the intersection of human rights with migration, race and indigeneity, accountability, technology and protection of the environment, issues that resonate with our location in Los Angeles and are reshaping our world.

Who We Are

  • Directors and Executive Staff
  • Associated Faculty
  • Visiting Faculty
  • Fellows and Affiliates

    Emily Chertoff

    Research Affiliate Emily Chertoff is a defense attorney representing detained immigrants in their removal proceedings and a research affiliate at the Promise Institute. Her current research and writing deals with how nation-states construe and constrain the rights of non-citizens, with a focus on migration and mobility, and how local, transnational, and international actors can mitigate or shift these national policies and laws. She has previously published academic articles in the Yale Law Journal, Texas Law Review, and the Texas Journal of International Law, and is presently completing an article on the ability of U.S. states to advance next-generation protections to overseas non-citizens. Before she began representing immigrants directly, Emily litigated challenges to detention conditions, and was part of a team that in 2019 settled with the Trump Administration to restore a humanitarian visa program and reunite thousands of at-risk minors with their parents in the United States. Emily is a graduate of Harvard University and Yale Law School, where she received her J.D. and was awarded the Jerome Sayles Hess Prize for best student in the area of international law. During law school, she served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal, a Herbert J. Hansell Fellow at the Center for Global Legal Challenges, and a member of the Global Health Justice Practicum. Before law school, she worked as a journalist.

    Alison Dudes Renteln

    Faculty Affiliate Alison Dundes Renteln is a Professor of Political Science with joint appointments in Anthropology, Law, and Public Policy. She teaches Law and Public Policy with an emphasis on comparative and international law. Her expertise includes American Politics, Comparative Politics, and Political Theory. A graduate of Harvard (History and Literature: Modern Europe), she has a Ph.D. in Jurisprudence and Social Policy from the University of California, Berkeley and a J.D. from the USC Gould School of Law. She served as Director of the Jesse Unruh Institute of Politic and also Vice-Chair and Chair of Political Science. In 2005 she received the USC Associates Award for Excellence in Teaching (campus-wide) and two Mellon Excellence in Mentoring Awards for graduate and undergraduate students (2005, 2011). Her publications include The Cultural Defense (Oxford, 2004), Folk Law (University of Wisconsin, 1995), Multicultural Jurisprudence (Hart, 2009), Cultural Law (Cambridge, 2010), Global Bioethics and Human Rights (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014), Images and Human Rights (Cambridge Scholars 2018), Personal Autonomy in Plural Societies: A Principle and Its Paradoxes (Routledge, 2018), and numerous articles. For decades she has taught judges, lawyers, court interpreters, jury consultants, and police officers at meetings of the American Bar Association, National Association of Women Judges, North American South Asian Bar Association, and the American Society of Trial Consultants. Renteln has collaborated with the UN on the drafting and implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, lectured on comparative legal ethics in Bangkok and Manila at ABA-sponsored conferences, and served on civil rights commissions and a California committee of Human Rights Watch. In Fall 2013 she was a Fellow at Stanford's Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences where she conducted research on incentives for civic engagement including the legal duty to rescue. In Spring 2014 she was a Human Rights Fellow at the School of Advanced Study at the University of London. She gathered data on the use of images in human rights and humanitarian campaigns. Her current research project on sensational jurisprudence is at the intersection of sociolegal studies and sensory studies. In 2019 she will be a Visiting Scholar at the Faculty of Law at Australian National University.

    Serap Ruken Sengul

    Distinguished Research Fellow Serap Ruken Sengul currently serves as Distinguished Research Fellow through the Promise Institute for Human Rights and the Center for Near Eastern Studies. She is an anthropologist whose work focuses on gender and sexual formations of sovereignty, nationalism, kinship, violence, memory and displacement in the Kurdish borderlands of Turkey, Iraq and Syria. During her two-year fellowship at UCLA, she has introduced several innovative and interdisciplinary courses to upper level undergraduate offerings in the Departments of Anthropology and Gender Studies, including "Gender and Militarism," "Gender, Kinship, and the State," and "Violence and Memory in the Middle East." Dr. Sengul earned her doctorate in Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin, and completed her postdoctoral studies at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

    Sara Kendall

    Research Affiliate
  • Recent Affiliates

    Saskia Nauenberg Dunkell

    Research Affiliate Saskia Nauenberg Dunkell was a research affiliate at the Promise Institute. Her book project, The Politics of Transitional Justice: Seeking to end more than 50 years of war in Colombia, examines struggles over the establishment and implementation of transitional justice measures used to address human right abuses in Colombia. In 2015-2016, she was a National Science Foundation fellow at the Center for Conflict, Displacement, and Peacebuilding at the University of Cartagena, Colombia. Alongside her research, she has led Global Youth Connect's Colombia Human Rights Delegation, worked at the International Peace and Security Institute's The Hague Symposium on Post-Conflict Transitions and International Justice, and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Kingdom of Tonga. She received her PhD in Sociology from UCLA in September 2018.

    Kyle (Kai) Elliot Fees

    Kyle (Kai) Elliot Fees was a visiting scholar at UCLA School of Law, a project supervisor of the International Human Rights Clinic, and a research affiliate at the Promise Institute. A 2018-19 recipient of the Robert L. Bernstein International Human Rights Fellowship, Kai also served as Research and Advocacy Fellow to the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, Professor E. Tendayi Achiume. Kai's principal research interests comprise international human rights law, public international law, and social movements. His work focuses on social and economic human rights; obligations arising from treaty signature; UN treaty bodies and special procedures' progressive development of human rights law; and tensions between NGO rhetoric and radical, liberatory visions for human rights. Kai is a graduate of Yale Law School, Arizona State University (M.A. in Social Justice and Human Rights), and the University of Arizona (B.A., summa cum laude, in Philosophy). During law school, he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Human Rights & Development Law Journal and as a student director of the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic and the Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights. He has provided research support to, among others, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, the ACLU Human Rights Program, the Southern Africa Litigation Centre, and the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre.

    Adam Kochanski

    Adam Kochanski was a research affiliate at the Promise Institute. His research focuses on transitional justice, post-conflict peacebuilding, and norms of humanitarian protection. His book project, Justice Deflected: The Uses and Abuses of Local Transitional Justice Processes, explores the influence of domestic political interests and local-national power asymmetries on memory, reconciliation, and healing in communities recovering from armed conflict in Cambodia and Mozambique. His forthcoming article from this project in International Studies Review takes stock of the "local turn" in transitional justice and dissects several questionable assumptions underpinning both scholarship and practice in this area. Numerous fellowships and grants have supported his research, including from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and International Development Research Centre. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Ottawa and most recently was a SSHRC postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University's Center for Human Rights and International Justice.

Publications

  • Amicus Briefs

    The Promise Institute submits amicus briefs in cases that involve issues of international human rights.

    More information 

  • Blog

    Newsletters

    Blog

    The Promise Human Rights Blog was founded in 2019 as a platform for UCLA Law students to advance domestic and international human rights. Our blog is run by J.D. and L.L.M. Candidates who are dedicated to the protection and promotion of human rights, here in Los Angeles and around the world.

    More information

  • Newsletters

     

  • Videos

    To view videos of Promise Institute symposia and events, interviews with human rights leaders and more, please visit the Promise Institute YouTube channel.

Resources

  • Careers
    • Fellowships - The Promise Institute funds two student fellowships per year. In 2019-20, the fellowships included one at the National Youth Law Center and one at Human Rights Watch.
    • Internships and Externships - The Promise Institute supports a number of internships and externships for students.
  • Mailing List

    Subscribe to the Promise Institute mailing list to stay up to date with news and events from the institute and the International & Comparative Law Program.

    Questions? Contact promiseinstitute@law.ucla.edu

News
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Jun 01, 2020

After George Floyd: A Message from the Promise Institute

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May 27, 2020

E. Tendayi Achiume Speaks to N.Y. Times about the Political Construct Behind Burqas v. Face Masks

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