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Human Rights in our Own Backyards: What Place for National Institutions?"

Start/End Monday, April 08, 2013 12:10 PM EDT -- 01:10 PM EDT
Location Name Jerome Greene Hall Room 102

Improving the domestic implementation of international human rights standards is considered crucial to ensuring the viability of the international human rights framework in protecting the rights of all. One relatively recent mechanism for improving this implementation are National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs). Over the past two decades, NHRIs have been created in over 100 countries around the world. While there is a growing push from the UN for all countries to establish NHRIs, there is little understanding of their actual effectiveness and where (or whether) they can add value. This talk will present NHRIs; their role, functions and mandate, and consider their contribution to the promotion and protection of international human rights standards at the domestic level. It will examine case studies of 5 NHRIs, those of Afghanistan, Ireland, Mexico, Sierra Leone and South Korea to illustrate the work NHRIs are doing at the national level, the challenges they face, and the role they can play in promoting and protecting international human rights at the domestic level.

Kirsten Roberts is a Visiting Researcher at Harvard Law School for the 2012/2013 academic year, researching individual responsibility at the international level for human rights violations. She is on sabbatical from her position as Acting Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Research, Policy and Promotion of the Irish Human Rights Commission (IHRC), Ireland's National Human Rights Institution (NHRI). From 2008 - 2011 she was also coordinator of the European Group of NHRIs. Prior to joining the IHRC, Ms Roberts worked as a legal officer in the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Her previous experience has included the Permanent Representation of Ireland to the Council of Europe, European Court of Human Rights, European Court of Justice, and Amnesty International. Ms Roberts has spoken widely and written on the topic of NHRIs and has acted as a resource person on NHRIs for the OHCHR and UNDP. She has also undertaken a number of missions as an independent expert on fundamental rights under the European Commission's TAIEX programme.

Contact hri@law.columbia.edu with any questions.