Foundation board

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Jean-Dominique Vassalli, President

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Jean-Dominique Vassalli, former rector of the University of Geneva, is a Swiss scientist and doctor. After obtaining his federal diploma in medicine from the University of Geneva in 1972, he obtained a doctorate from the Rockefeller University in New York in 1977 and a doctorate in medicine from the University of Geneva in 1984. In 1986, he became Professor of Developmental Biology at the Faculty of Medicine. His laboratory was involved in studies on extracellular proteolysis in mammalian embryogenesis, inflammation and neuronal function, and on the control of gene expression translation in gametogenesis. From 1991 to 1999, he was Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, then Vice-Rector of the University of Geneva until 2003. From 2003 to 2007, he was President of Basic Medical Sciences at the Faculty of Medicine. He was appointed Rector of the University of Geneva in 2007 and completed his second mandate in 2015. He is the recipient of the Cloëtta Prize (1988), the International Society for Fibrinolysis and Thrombolysis Prize (1994) and an ad personam member of the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences (2001). From 2011 to 2017, he was President of the Brocher Foundation, which promotes multidisciplinary research on the ethical, legal, and social implications of the development of medical research and biotechnology. Honorary Professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Geneva, he is currently President of the Private Foundation of the University Hospitals of Geneva, of the International institute for the rights of the child, and of the Scientific Commission of the Brocher Foundation. 

Karl Hanson, Member

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Karl Hanson is Director of the Interfaculty Centre for Children’s Rights (CIDE) and Ordinary Professor of Public Law at the Faculty of Law of the University of Geneva. He obtained his doctorate in Law from Ghent University, Belgium, where he worked as a researcher at the Children’s Rights Centre and as a senior researcher at the Human Rights Centre. His publications and main research interests are in the emerging field of interdisciplinary children’s rights studies and include theorizations on children’s rights and childhood studies, child labour and working children, juvenile justice, and the role of independent national children’s rights institutions. He is one of the editors of the Childhood Journal (Sage) and a member of the Scientific Council of the Observatoire national de la protection de l'enfance - ONPE (France). He teaches at the University of Geneva in the Master interdisciplinaire en droits de l’enfant (MIDE). He is also the Programme Director of the Master of Advanced Studies in Children's Rights (MCR) and chairs the Directive Committee of the Children’s Rights European Academic Network (CREAN).  

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Philip D. Jaffé, Member

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Philip D. Jaffé, ordinary professor at the Interfaculty Centre for Children’s Rights (CIDE), trained in clinical psychology at the Universities of Fribourg, Geneva (Diploma, 1983) and, thanks to a fellowship from the FNRS, at Yeshiva University (Doctorate, 1988) in New York. After postdoc internships at Harvard University (McLean Hospital), he trained in forensic psychology and worked for several years in the Massachusetts prison system. Since his return to Switzerland, he has taught clinical and forensic psychology at the University of Geneva and developed a private practice as a psychotherapist and court expert. He co-founded and chaired the Société Suisse de Psychologie Légale (SSPL) for ten years. He is also co-responsible for the Child and Youth Policy section of the Swiss Centre of Expertise in Human Rights (SCHR). His academic and professional activities have long focused on the protection of children, in particular regarding to sexual abuse, and the participation of children in civil and criminal justice system. Elected in June 2018 in New York as a member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on the proposal of Switzerland, his term of office began on 1 March 2019 and will last four years until 28 February 2023. He is therefore the second Swiss citizen and Valaisan national, after Dr. h.c. Jean Zermatten, to sit on a UN Treaty Body.  

Yvon Heller, Member

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Photo credit : Nadir Mokdad

Paediatrician and school doctor in Nyon for 30 years, working in the field of social and community paediatrics with a special interest in vulnerable populations (children with disabilities, migration, abuse, and precariousness).  

He participated in the establishment of multidisciplinary groups in schools in Nyon and at the Nyon Hospital to better deal with complex psychosocial situations involving children and adolescents. In 1992 he contributed to the creation of a multidisciplinary consultation in paediatric neurorehabilitation in Nyon (PENAR) where the partnership between families and professionals is at the centre of the approach, as well as the inclusion of continuous training in the field of disability.  

He promotes children's rights among Swiss paediatricians. Since 2016, he has been the president of ADIDE (Association pour le dictionnaire des droits de l'enfant). 

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Photo credit : Nadir Mokdad