Assistant Professor





(852) 3943 1541

(852) 2994 2505

Room 536
Faculty of Law
5/F, Lee Shau Kee Building
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Sha Tin, NT, Hong Kong SAR

Professor Roberts is an Assistant Professor and the Deputy Director of the LLB Programme at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Professor Roberts’ academic interests include comparative approaches to human rights, procedural issues before human rights tribunals, the relationship between international sanctions regimes and public international law, and approaches to systemic and structural harms within national and international law. Professor Roberts’ current research focuses on the historical evolution of public order legality in nineteenth and early twentieth century Britain and the British Empire. From 2021, he will be pursuing a University Grants Committee-funded ECS project, exploring the exportation and evolution of vagrancy laws in the nineteenth century British Empire. Professor Roberts is the Chair of the Transnational Legal History Group within the Law Faculty’s Centre for Comparative and Transnational Law, and a member of the Comparative Constitutional Law Forum.

In addition to his academic work, Professor Roberts has worked as an expert legal consultant addressing issues such as constitutional and legal reform, the rule of law and human rights standards with intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, the International Federation for Human Rights, Avocats Sans Frontières, the International Service for Human Rights, the International Refugee Assistance Project, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, the Arab Center for the Promotion of Human Rights, Transparency Maldives, and many others. Professor Roberts is currently serving as a senior adviser to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.

  • Legal History
  • Colonial Legality
  • Human Rights
  • Public International Law
  • Law and Critical Theory


  • Alternative Approaches to Human Rights: The Disparate Historical Paths of the European, Inter-American and African Regional Human Rights Systems (book manuscript under contract with Cambridge University Press)
  • Reversing the Burden of Proof Before Human Rights Bodies (forthcoming in INT’L J. HUM. RTS.)
  • With Clément Voulé: Freedom of Association and Freedom of Peaceful Assembly (forthcoming in Elgar Encyclopedia of Human Rights)
  • Forging the National Security State: Public Order Legality in Britain, 1900-1918 (forthcoming in UNBOUND: HARV. J. LEGAL LEFT)
  • The Age of Emergency, 20 WASH. U. GLOBAL STUD. L. REV. 99 (2021)
  • Experiments with Suppression: The Evolution of Repressive Legality in Britain in the Revolutionary Period, 43 LOY. L.A. INT’L & COMP. L. REV. 125 (2020)
  • From the State of Emergency to the Rule of Law: The Evolution of Repressive Legality in the Nineteenth Century British Empire, 20 CHI. J. INT’L L. 1 (2019)
  • From Discretion to Law: Rights-Based Concerns and the Evolution of International Sanctions, 44 BROOK. J. INT’L L. 200 (2018)
  • On the Definition of Crimes Against Humanity and Other Widespread or Systematic Human Rights Violations, 20 U. PA. J.L. & SOC. CHANGE 1 (2017)



  • The Age of Emergency, 39th Annual Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Law and History Society, Auckland, New Zealand (via zoom), December 2020
  • Experiments with Repression in Late Eighteenth Century Britain, 13th Max Weber June Conference: ‘Drivers and Consequences of Transformation’, European University Institute, Florence, June 2019
  • From Discretion to Law: Rights-Based Concerns and the Evolution of International Sanctions, Talk at the Law Faculty, Koç University, Istanbul, May 2019
  • The Evolution of Repressive Legality in the Nineteenth Century British Empire, ‘State Building in Non-Democratic Societies’ Conference, European University Institute, Florence, May 2019
  • The Evolution of Repressive Legality in the Nineteenth Century British Empire, Talk at the Law Faculty, American University in Cairo, Cairo, April 2019
  • Alternative Rights Visions,Max Weber Colloquium, European University Institute, Florence, September 2018
  • The Systemic Approach to Human Rights,International Society of Public Law Conference, Hong Kong University, Hong Kong, June 2018
  • The Systemic Approach to Human Rights, Institute for Global Law and Policy Conference, Harvard Law School, Boston, June 2018
  • National Human Rights Institutions as Democratic Supplement, International IDEA Conference on Constitutional Responses to the Crisis of Representation and Oligarchic Democracy, The Hague, May 2017
  • Procedural Human Rights Violations and Complementarity: The Exhaustion of Remedies Rule and the African Commission, Association of Human Rights Institutions Conference, Copenhagen, September 2014
  • Human Rights as Positive, Horizontal and Democratic: A Habermasian Approach to Human Rights Law, International Society of Public Law Conference, European University Institute, Florence, June 2014


  • JSD, NYU School of Law
  • Admitted to the New York State Bar
  • JD, NYU School of Law
  • MA, School of Oriental and African Studies
  • BA, Brown University