Thursday, August 14, 2008

Human rights are the right thing

Yale Law School Human Rights scholarships, fellowships get $3 million boost

By Mariana Stebbins
Special to the Register
— Yale Law School Human Rights scholarships and fellowships are about to be expanded with a $3 million gift from a Minnesota-based private grant making foundation.
With the funds, to be administered throughout the next three years, Yale will create the Robina Foundation Human Rights Fellowship Initiative at Yale Law School to support human rights leaders at all levels, from law school students to senior fellows. After three years, it is hoped the program will be self-sustaining, said Harold Hongju Koh, dean of Yale Law School.
The Robina Foundation was founded by a 1938 Yale alumnus, businessman and philanthropist James Binger, to provide financial support to transformative projects. Binger, who died in 2004 at age 88, selected Yale as one of Robina’s four partners, which include the University of Minnesota Law School, the Council on Foreign Relations and the Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis.
The initiative will provide support in several ways to students and professionals committed to human rights. Scholarships will offset students tuitions, summer fellowships will cover travel and living costs for students working in human rights-oriented summer jobs and postgraduate fellowships will fund alumni human rights practices immediately after they leave law school.
Finally, Fellows in Residence will provide opportunities for scholars, clinicians, government employees and practitioners to take time from their careers in international human rights to explore and contribute new ideas in the intellectual community of Yale Law School.
"Students need cradle-to-grave support to do human rights work and scholarships and fellowships make it possible for students to find work after law school," said Koh.
Yale had been experiencing a growing demand for human rights fellowships and the institution was pleased when the Robina Foundation expressed interest in creating the initiative, said Yale Law School spokeswoman Janet Conroy.
Koh credited the demand to a trend saying, "what the civil rights movement was for students of the 60s, the human rights movement is for those in the 21st century."
Each year, 30 to 50 students are expected to benefit from the scholarships and fellowships.
"Frankly, the pay is bad," said Koh. "So, many people are dissuaded in pursuing their hearts’ desires, but human rights work is rewarding. That’s what it is all about."
Mariana Stebbins is a Register Intern. Alexandra Sanders, also a Register intern, contributed to this story.

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