Belkis Wille '08

Category Alumni Spotlight


Authored on October 17, 2022


In our alumni spotlight series, learn about Harvard graduates' most meaningful experiences from college, and how Harvard impacted their professional and personal paths after graduation.

Hometown & Current City: Hometown- Zurich, Switzerland. Current city- Kyiv, Ukraine

House Affiliation: Currier House

Concentration: Government

Current Title/Company: Senior Crisis & Conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch

What was your professional path after college? 

In terms of academics, I obtained a law degree in the UK, and an LLM in Human Rights and Humanitarian Law. For most of my career I have worked in the Middle East documenting war crimes and crimes against humanity, including in Libya, Gaza, Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, Jordan and Syria. I have also carried out research on biometric data collection in the context of armed conflicts, including in Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Kenya, and have been working with social media companies on the issue of the preservation of taken-down social media content that is vital to war crimes investigations. I am now working in and on Ukraine, having spent two years before that living in Myanmar.

What fills your time now - professionally and otherwise?

Documenting war crimes takes up most of my time.

How did your academic experience at Harvard guide you in your post-grad pursuits? 

Several classes were very useful to my longer-term career interests, including a course on the Anthropology of Human Rights.

Did you have any research/internship opportunities and/or professor/mentor relationships that were influential? 

My part-time job at the law school's Human Rights Center was also hugely informative.

What were you involved in extracurricularly? 

I was on the fencing team for the first year of college but spent the rest of my three years juggling 3-4 jobs on campus at a time.

What is a favorite memory of Harvard House life? 

Sunday morning late breakfasts

What is your favorite Harvard tradition and why? 

The Veritaffle*

(*a waffle with a Veritas shield in the middle!)

What advice do you have for someone applying to college? 

Once you get to college, really take advantage of everything the institution has to offer, not just your classes or sports.



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