Kirsten Roberts Lyer is a specialist in international human rights law and policy. Kirsten is an Associate Professor at the Department of Public Policy, where she teaches courses on the Rule of Law and Human Rights.
Appointed as a member of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights' Scientific Committee (2023-2028), and elected as Vice-Chair for 2023-24, Kirsten is a recognised expert on National Human Rights Institutions and co-authored a leading publication on NHRIs published with Oxford University Press (2021). She also recently published Change at the Top: The Necessity of Transitional Leadership Provisions in the Laws of Independent State-Based Institutions in the Journal of Human Rights Practice (2023).
Kirsten's research examines how to protect and strengthen independent state-level institutions that are vital to the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide. Her recent publications and policy contributions have focussed on the creation and development of effective NHRIs, parliamentary engagement with human rights, and academic freedom (university autonomy). In 2022, she co-authored University Autonomy Decline: Causes, Responses, and Implications for Academic Freedom, Routledge (2022).
In addition to her research, her expertise is sought by international organisations such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), International IDEA and the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, on the establishment and strengthening of National Human Rights Institutions and Ombudspersons, as well as on parliamentary engagement with human rights. She has been an independent expert on fundamental rights for the European Commission and sat on the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs' Non-Governmental Standing Committee on Human Rights. She was also an advisor on human rights policy to a member of the Irish houses of parliament.
Kirsten has extensive experience as a policy expert and international lawyer for over 16 years before joining the Department of Public Policy in 2016. This included as a Director at the Irish Human Rights Commission, Ireland's NHRI, and as a legal officer in Trial Chamber I of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. She has also worked in Ireland's diplomatic mission to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, at the European Court of Human Rights, European Court of Justice and for Amnesty International.
Kirsten obtained her PhD in human rights at The Dickson Poon School of Law, King's College London, where she was a Dickson Poon Scholar and established the Project on Effective Parliamentary Oversight of Human Rights with Dr. Philippa Webb. She has an M.Litt. in International Criminal Law from Trinity College Dublin, and a Bachelor's in Law from University College Dublin. For the 2012-2013 academic year, Kirsten was a Visiting Researcher at Harvard Law School.
Recent Academic publications:
- Roberts Lyer, K., Change at the Top: The Necessity of Transitional Leadership Provisions in the Laws of Independent State-Based Institutions Journal of Human Rights Practice (2023).
- Roberts Lyer, K., Saliba, I., Spannagel, J., University Autonomy Decline: Causes, Responses, and Implications for Academic Freedom, Routledge (2022).
- D. Langtry, K. Roberts Lyer, National Human Rights Institutions: Rules, Requirements and Practice, Oxford University Press.
- K Roberts Lyer (2021) Parliaments as Human Rights Actors, in Lagoutte et. al. (eds)The Domestic Institutionalisation of Human Rights (Routledge)
- K Roberts Lyer (2020) 'Academic Freedom in Ireland: Country Case Study', in K. Kinzelbach,Researching Academic Freedom. Guidelines and Sample Case Studies (FAU University Press).
- Parliaments as Human Rights Actors: The Potential for International Principles on Parliamentary Human Rights Committees, Nordic Journal of Human Rights (2019)
- K Roberts Lyer & Aron Suba (2019) Closing Academic Space, Repressive State Practices in Legislative, Regulatory and Other Restrictions on Higher Education Institutions (International Centre for Not for Profit Law, (2019)
- Roberts Lyer, K., National Human Rights Institutions. In Gerd Oberleitner & Steven Hoadley eds., Human Rights Institutions, Tribunals and Courts – Legacy and Promise, Springer Major Reference Works handbook series. (2018)
- Roberts Lyer, K., Webb, P., Effective Parliamentary Oversight of Human Rights. In M. Saul, A. Follesdal, and G. Ulfstein (eds), The International Human Rights Judiciary and National Parliaments: Europe and Beyond, Cambridge University Press, 2017.
Recent Policy Publications/Advice
- 2022 IDEA, INTER PARES – Parliaments in Partnership, ‘Effective Human Rights Engagement for Parliamentary Bodies: A Toolkit’.
- OSCE-ODIHR, Urgent Interim Opinion on the Draft Constitutional Law of the KYRGYZ Republic on the Akyikatchy (Ombudsman) 2023
- OSCE-ODIHR, Opinion on the Legislative Amendments on the State Inspector’s Service of Georgia, Opinion-Nr.: GEN-GEO/436/2022 [NR], 18 February 2022.
- OSCE-ODIHR, Urgent Opinion on the Draft Law on the Ombudsperson of Uzbekistan, Opinion-Nr.: NHRI-UZB/434/2021, 11 February 2022.
- OSCE-ODIHR, Opinion on the Draft Law on the National Commission for the Promotion and the Protection Of Fundamental Human Rights and the Fight Against Discrimination (Italy), Opinion-Nr.: NHRI-IT /424/2021, 19 November 2021.
- OSCE/ODIHR, Opinion on the Draft Law Introducing A “People’s Advocate For Entrepreneurs’ Rights” Moldova, Opinion-Nr.: NHRI-MDA/392/2020 [AlC] Warsaw, 19 March 2021.
- 2019 Roberts Lyer, K., and Suba A., Closing Academic Space: Repressive State Practices in Legislative, Regulatory and Other Restrictions on Higher Education Institutions, International Centre for Not-for-Profit Law, Washington DC.
- 2019 EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, ‘Strong and Effective National Human Rights Institutions: Challenges, Promising Practices and Opportunities’, Vienna, 2020. Independent Expert on FRA Advisory Board to the Report.
- 2018 OSCE/ODIHR, Opinion on the Draft Amendments to the Act on Establishment of the Slovak National Centre for Human Rights, Warsaw, 21 January 2019, Opinion-Nr.: NHRI-SVK/335/2018 [JG].