Kirsten Roberts Lyer

Associate Professor
Vienna, Quellenstrasse 51

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). Her work on academic freedom has focussed on threats to academics, through a major co-authored report for ICNL in 2019 Closing Academic Space and threats to the autonomy of higher education institutions. In 2022, she co-authored University Autonomy Decline: Causes, Responses, and Implications for Academic Freedom, Routledge (2022). She is a member of the Council of Europe Group of Experts on the Democratic Mission of Higher Education (2024-2027)

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:

Recent Policy Publications/Advice

Twitter: @KirstenJRoberts 



PhD (Human Rights), School of Law, King's College London
MLitt (International Criminal Law), School of Law, Trinity College Dublin
BCL School of Law, University College Dublin