Many characteristics can be used to describe Rianne Letschert. Smart, successful, pioneering, inspiring, and many others. After studying law at the University of Amsterdam and the University of Montpellier, she earned a PhD from Tilburg University with a thesis titled The impact of minority rights mechanisms (2005). She has then worked as a professor and conducted research in the field of international law and victimology. Highly praised in her field, she was recognized as “Top Female Role Model in Science” by her university and was also awarded an €800,000 grant from the Dutch Research Council (NWO Vidi) in 2015.

Typically, victimology deals with ordinary crimes, but Rianne decided to look at it from another perspective. She focuses on the victims of mass human rights infringements, as well as the victims of genocides or attempted genocides. This interest brought her to the four corners of our planet. Conducting research in Congo, Cambodia, Cyprus and the Middle East, she works hard to understand and defend the victims of unrest and conflict.

In the video above, Rianne points out that regardless of their contexts or location on the globe, all conflicts share one thing in common, the enormous human suffering, the damage that is inflicted upon victims, individuals and groups. Whether it is economical, sociological or physical, the suffering does not end once the conflict is over. It can continue, grow worse, and have an immense negative impact on people’s subsequent lives. This is why she works hard to bring justice and reparations to those impacted by such conflicts.

Rianne’s accomplishments have brought her to the heights of the academic world. She was recently about to become the dean at the Law Faculty of Tilburg University when she was appointed as Rector Magnificus at Maastricht University, making her the youngest female Rector leading a Dutch university.

In October, she will grace the stage of our 2017 TEDxMaastricht event. After spending her life breaking barriers and changing the perspective of an academic field, we are certain that her talk will change the way we look at conflict and reconciliation in our own lives and that of others.

Valentin Calomme
Communication and social media