Hannah Garry appointed as executive director of UCLA Law’s Promise Institute

Human rights leader to expand UCLA’s impact on the international stage

July 6, 2023
Hannah Garry

For over 25 years, Professor Hannah Garry has been laser focused on seeking justice and accountability for human rights abuses and atrocity situations across the globe, while making the U.S. a destination for the study and practice of human rights law. Starting in July, she will lead UCLA School of Law’s Promise Institute for Human Rights to new heights as its next executive director and a professor from practice.

Garry joins UCLA Law from USC Gould School of Law, where she was clinical professor of law and founding director of the International Human Rights Clinic for 12 years. Her areas of teaching and scholarship include international criminal law, transitional justice, international human rights law and international refugee law. She has supervised student attorneys in the clinic on cases and projects nationally and internationally that address atrocity crimes, refugee rights, fair trial rights, gender justice, human trafficking and systemic racism.

“I’ve been following the work of the Promise Institute since it was launched, and it has been remarkable to see how much has been accomplished in a relatively short period of time,” she says. “It’s an honor to continue and build upon the inspiring work set in motion by the core team, faculty and students. I couldn’t be more thrilled to lead Promise into its next chapter as a globally recognized authority for human rights education, research, advocacy and thought leadership.”

The Promise Institute was established in 2017 with a gift spearheaded by Dr. Eric Esrailian, health sciences clinical professor of medicine at UCLA. Since its founding, the institute has engaged in groundbreaking work at the intersection of human rights and accountability, the environment, technology, migration and race and Indigeneity under the leadership of outgoing founding executive director Kate Mackintosh. Mackintosh is pivoting to an exciting new role within UCLA Law, to be announced at a later date.

Garry’s experiences primed her for this moment. In directing the USC Gould International Human Rights Clinic, she put the law school’s strengths and acumen in human rights on the map – literally and figuratively. She has supervised student attorneys seeking justice for human rights abuses on behalf of impacted individuals and communities from around the world. Since the clinic’s founding, more than 100 law students have graduated, many of whom went on to work at international courts and tribunals and are now actively engaged in human rights work.

Garry’s career as an international human rights advocate, scholar and teacher took root when she was a graduate student at Oxford University’s Refugee Studies Centre. After graduation, she was hired by Oxford as a field researcher visiting refugee camps throughout Uganda and Kenya for two years where she witnessed and documented first-hand the abuses refugees endure in exile while under the protection of the international community. “That experience fundamentally changed my life,” she says. “It led me to law school, which led me to seek accountability for atrocity situations that refugees flee from through practice of international criminal law before international courts and tribunals in the Hague and Arusha, Tanzania.” Garry earned her J.D. from UC Berkeley and master’s in international affairs from Columbia University.

Garry has held many other academic and expert legal advisor positions, including in international criminal courts and leading human rights organizations, and she has been quoted widely in major media outlets. Last year, she was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Oslo Law’s PluriCourts Centre in Norway.

“Today, we are witnessing an attack on fundamental human rights at home and abroad. Now, more than ever, we need institutional leaders such as the Promise Institute to be at the forefront of harnessing cutting-edge ideas and education for expanding and empowering current and future generations of human rights advocates who will fight to ensure that there is respect for our shared humanity, regardless of background or identity,” she says. “As Executive Director of Promise, I am excited and humbled to collaborate with UCLA’s world class faculty and the Institute’s amazing team in playing this pivotal role, while centering the voices of impacted communities as we come alongside to demand justice for the human rights abuses that they have endured.”

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