LOS ANGELES — The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative today announced its lineup of global thought leaders and local changemakers speaking at the upcoming Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity events. They will convene May 8-10 at the UCLA Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference Center located in the heart of UCLA’s campus.

This year, as conflict and fighting continues in many parts of the world, the events will focus on “shining a light in the darkest of times.” According to the United Nations, in 2024 alone, an estimated 300 million people around the world will need humanitarian assistance and protection, due to conflicts, climate emergencies and other drivers. Aurora is gathering the humanitarian community to reaffirm a shared commitment to building a better world, adapt to new global dynamics and act swiftly, together, for the advancement of human rights and dignity.

“We are looking forward to bringing together the best minds of our time — global leaders who will share their humanitarian and human rights expertise and apply their direct knowledge to the pressing issues we face today,” said Aurora Executive Director Armine Afeyan.

Zeid bin Ra’ad Al Hussein, president & CEO of International Peace Institute, will be the keynote speaker offering his perspective on the importance of standing firm on human rights at a time when millions of people continue to have their human rights denied by autocratic and populist regimes. As a member of The Elders, a group advancing peace, justice and human rights, and as former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (2014-2018), Al Hussein has continuously protested conditions that are fundamentally unjust and unfair. He has been willing to call out abusive governments and dictators by name, serving as a “conscience for the world.”

More than 55 panelists are planned, including Nobel Peace Prize laureates, a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist from Africa, international doctors and public health leaders and preeminent leaders in technology who will speak about the urgent need for considerations of human rights in the development of Artificial Intelligence.

The three days of events will include a Human Rights and Humanitarian Forum in partnership with The Promise Institute for Human Rights of UCLA’s Law School.

““The Promise Institute is a globally recognized authority for human rights education, research, impact and thought leadership,” said Prof. Hannah Garry, executive director of The Promise Institute. “We emphasize centering impacted communities as we come alongside to demand justice for human rights violations. We are very excited for this opportunity to bring together our community with like-minded global actors as we collectively discuss and celebrate the critical work of human rights defenders around the world.”

On May 9, at a dinner and award ceremony, Aurora will announce its 2024 Laureate and award its $1 million flagship prize. The prize will go to one of three humanitarians to distribute aid to those in need on the ground: Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja (human rights advocate, Bahrain/Denmark), Denis Mukwege (gynecologist and human rights activist, Democratic Republic of the Congo) and Nasrin Sotoudeh (human rights defender, Iran).

The Human Rights and Humanitarian Forum will hold discussions, breakout sessions and panels. Themes will include the right to education, forced displacement and refugees, climate change and environmental justice, gender justice, the risks and benefits of AI, global healthcare crisis and others. The events will also feature a screening of the award-winning animated documentary film, “Aurora’s Sunrise.”

On May 10, the concluding day of the conference, Dr. Noubar Afeyan, Aurora Co-Founder, and Dr. Eric Esrailian, Co-Founder of The Promise Institute, co-chairs of the events, will also hold a discussion to sum up the 2024 Aurora main events in Los Angeles.

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