Jeanne Rikkers

DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR RESEARCH AND LEARNING IN HUMAN RIGHTS

Jeanne began her human rights career abroad serving as a community development worker in Liberia and Guatemala before moving to El Salvador in 1992. Arriving to the country at the signing of the Peace Accords, Jeanne became engaged with youth and community issues that focused on human rights-based violence prevention.

Jeanne served as Country Coordinator for Christians for Peace in El Salvador (CRISPAZ), and eventually as Citizen Security and Criminal Justice Coordinator at the Foundation for the Study and Application of Law (FESPAD). In these positions, Jeanne was able to develop research and learning approaches to an ever-growing problem of violence in the country. “I try to challenge the tendency in human rights to look for 'innocent' victims, this duality of good and bad, that we should only identify with the suffering of ‘good people,'" Jeanne says of her research on youth and crime. "All victims are victims regardless of what they are involved in.”

Now Cristosal's Director of the Center for Research and Learning, Jeanne guides the Center’s research agenda using a participatory-action philosophy. This approach emphasizes collaboration over direct observation, with the ultimate goal of facilitating transformative processes in communities. “I am interested in using my experience and skills in training and research to build others' capacity for contributing to social change based on respect and promotion of human rights.” Of her majoring in English and German literature, Jeanne says, “There is no better preparation for engaging in the world than reading a good book.”