[2023-2028] NNHRR obtains new five-year mandate

Published 23 August 2023

The Netherlands Network for Human Rights Research (NNHRR) recently saw its mandate renewed for five more years. The new Memorandum of Understanding signed by the faculty deans of the ten stakeholder universities and the Asser Institute will run from September 2023 to August 2028.

“The Network has proved its usefulness to the community of human rights researchers in the Netherlands”, says Dr Jasper Krommendijk, Chair of the NNHRR Steering Committee and Associate Professor at Radboud University Nijmegen. “Our membership has grown exponentially in numbers and diversity, and we are expecting this trend to continue. We are very happy to continue this work with a new five-year mandate.”

Founded in 2017, the Network strengthens academic cooperation among its member institutions, facilitates academic exchange among human rights scholars, and provides training to its PhD members. It does this by actively supporting the organisation of human rights research activities across the Netherlands. Since 2020, the Network includes all Dutch faculties of law among its stakeholder institutions.

Asked about the network’s achievements, Dr Krommendijk says: “We have consolidated our flagship trainings for PhD students and incorporated new activities which have come from bottom-up initiatives. Additionally, we encourage and facilitate peer-to-peer exchange.”

Learning & exchange
To create spaces for learning and exchange, the NNHRR facilitates the organisation of annual PhD training for 1st and 2nd year, and 3rd and 4th year PhD candidates, and hosts the Toogdag, an annual conference dedicated to promoting interaction between the members and showcasing their work. It further maintains a number of collaborative initiatives, such as the Research Workshops on Human Rights, which are aimed at enhancing academic cooperation across disciplines and research fields. Since 2021, the Network’s members have been organising Doctoral Research Foras, which brings together PhD candidates from Dutch universities who engage in research in the field of human rights. The event gives participants the opportunity to present their work in a collaborative and informal setting, providing PhD candidates with practical tips and career advice, and facilitating interaction between junior and senior members of the NNHRR.

Dr León Castellanos-Jankiewicz, Asser researcher and academic coordinator of the NNHRR, notes the importance of designing activities that provide an accessible environment for both junior and senior scholars. Castellanos-Jankiewicz: “We are very happy that we can continue building a genuine research community that is mutually supportive across institutions and generations.”

Supporting PhD research
The network supports PhD researchers in human rights from the beginning of the process, until their eventual defence and publication of their theses. ‘It has been wonderful to see the number of PhD members in the Network growing in recent years. The Network really values its PhD members and there are so many opportunities in the calendar, like trainings and workshops, where PhDs can connect with each other while learning new skills’, explains PhD representative Stephanie Triefus.

The network further provides the setting to obtain theoretical and practical expertise, such as thematic working groups for its PhD researchers. According to PhD representative Joëlle Trampert, who has been a member of the NNHRR since she started her PhD in 2018: ‘from the very first PhD training on, I have benefited from multiple inspiring and informative events. The NNHRR doesn't just provide you with a Netherlands-wide network of other human rights researchers, but also provides a forum where PhD and other early career researchers can come together and learn from each other and senior members on a wide range of topics, from methodology to presenting and career development. I am delighted that the Network will continue!’

Increasing visibility
The NNHRR recently launched a set of initiatives, such as the blog Human Rights Here and the Twitter account @NNHRResearch to increase the network’s online visibility. Apart from this, the network co-organises the Max van der Stoel Human Rights Award together with Tilburg University, to reward the best Human Rights theses at the master’s and doctoral level. Furthermore, the NNHRR maintains a publication agreement with Intersentia for the Human Rights Research Series, which has so far produced eighty-five books based on NNHRR members’ PhD dissertations.