Feb. 27, 2020

Emily Schettler

Sussman Lecture to feature renowned doctor and human rights activist Dr. Jean-Baptiste Richardier

Renowned doctor and human rights activist Dr. Jean-Baptiste Richardier will deliver The Harkin Institute’s Sussman Lecture on Wednesday, March 11. Dr. Richardier, cofounder of the award-winning international nongovernmental organization Humanity & Inclusion (HI), will discuss the ongoing daily warfare against civilians, efforts to protect innocent individuals and the importance of providing support and resources for victims.

Dr. Richardier co-founded Humanity & Inclusion (formerly known as Handicap International) while working to support Cambodian refugees along the Thai border in 1982. Dr. Richardier and his wife were outraged that 6,000 refugees had been maimed by anti-personnel land mines, saved by doctors, but then offered no specific assistance as they left the hospital—often within days of having endured such a physical and emotional trauma. Dr. Richardier called in his brother-in-law and wife to help, and together, they created HI’s very first rehabilitation centers.

In 1992, under Dr. Richardier’s leadership, HI joined forces with five other nongovernmental organizations to form the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), which was collectively awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997. Later HI was at the forefront of the Cluster Munition Coalition successfully advocating to ban this type of weapon and works today toward the regulation of the use of explosive weapons with wide area affects in densely populated areas.

Dr. Richardier’s speech is particularly timely as the White House in January reversed a prohibition on the use of land mines by the U.S. military, saying the restrictions create a disadvantage for American forces.

Present today in more than 55 countries, HI serves people living in areas of conflict, providing victim assistance and clearing land mines. Over time, it extended its mandate to serve people hurt by natural catastrophes or stricken by extreme poverty.

HI is active in efforts to advance employment opportunities for people with disabilities and is an important partner in the planning of the Harkin International Disability Employment Summit. This Sussman Lecture is one of many disability themed events The Harkin Institute will host in 2020 in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Established by Richard Sussman, AS’51, in memory of his late wife Lila, the Sussman Lecture Series invites notable public figures to discuss timely topics.

Past speakers have in the Sussman Lecture Series include NASA Chief Historian Bill Barry; Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kailash Satyarthi; and Julie Stewart, president and founder of the organization Families Against Mandatory Minimums.

This free public event will take place at 7 p.m. in Sheslow Auditorium at Drake University. Registration is available online.


The Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement at Drake University exists to inform citizens, inspire creative cooperation, and catalyze change on issues of social justice, fairness, and opportunity. Founded on the premise that good public policy is best achieved when policymakers have access to high quality information, political processes are open and well-understood, and citizens are informed and active participants, The Harkin Institute offers programming, experiences, research, and connectivity focused on the areas that defined Senator Harkin’s career: labor and employment, people with disabilities, retirement security, and wellness and nutrition. For more information, visit HarkinInstitute.org.

Address: 2429 University Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50311 Phone: 515-271-3623 Fax Number: 515-271-3631 Email: harkininstitute@drake.edu Office Hours: Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.