PROF. CHRISTOPHER ROBERTS
Assistant Professor

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(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, Assistant Dean (Undergraduate Studies) and LLB Programme Director within the Faculty of Law at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Among other themes, Professor Roberts’ research focuses on the historical evolution of public order legality in nineteenth and twentieth century Britain, the British Empire and the British settler colonial world; on the imperial, transnational and international evolution of ideas of workers’ rights in the early to mid-twentieth century; on the boundaries of the concept of forced labor; and on comparative institutional and procedural issues at human rights bodies. He is currently working on a book tentatively titled “Anarchism, Espionage, Syndicalism and Sedition: The Construction of the Anti-Worker State, 1880-1927.” Professor Roberts is the Chair of the Transnational Legal History Group within the Law Faculty’s Centre for Comparative and Transnational Law.

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 with intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations and mandate holders such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, 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 others.

RESEARCH INTERESTS
  • Legal History
  • Human Rights
  • Public International Law
  • Critical Theory
  • Public Order Law
  • Workers’ Rights

REPRESENTATIVE PUBLICATIONS

  • “The Vagrancy Law Model: Combatting Social Contagion Through Law and Ideology in the Anglo World, c. 1824-1932,” in Governing Through Contagion (Lynette J. Chua & Jack Jin Gary Lee eds, under consideration with Hart 2023)
  • Proof: Human Rights Bodies (forthcoming in Max Planck Encyclopedia of International Procedural Law (Hélène Ruiz Fabri ed.) (2023))
  • Discretion and the Rule of Law: The Significance and Endurance of Vagrancy and Vagrancy-Type Laws in England, the British Empire and the British Colonial World (forthcoming in Duke Journal of Comparative and International Law 2023)
  • With Hazel W.H. Leung: “Governance Through Vagrancy Law in Hong Kong, 1841-1941,” in English Law and Colonial Connections: Histories, Parallels, and Influences (Cerian Grifiths & Lukasz Korporowicz eds, forthcoming with Routledge 2023)
  • Labor Control, Resistance, and the Advent of ‘Development’: Modalities of Governance in the British Empire, c. 1926-1940 (forthcoming in Minnesota Journal of International Law 2022)
  • Alternative Approaches to Human Rights: The Disparate Historical Paths of the European, Inter-American and African Regional Human Rights Systems (Cambridge University Press, 2022)
  • The Global Red Scare and the Anti-Worker Repressive Model, 1913-1927, 5 Cardozo International and Comparative Law Review 415 (2022)
  • With Clément Voule: “Freedom of Association” and “Freedom of Peaceful Assembly,” in Elgar Encyclopedia of Human Rights (Christina Binder, Manfred Nowak, Jane A. Hofbauer & Philipp Janig eds, 2022)
  • Reversing the Burden of Proof Before Human Rights Bodies, 25 International Journal of Human Rights 1682 (2021)
  • The Age of Emergency, 20 Washington University Global Studies Law Review 99 (2021)
  • Forging the National Security State: Public Order Legality in Britain, 1900-1918 (forthcoming in Unbound: Harvard Journal of the Legal Left)
  • Experiments with Suppression: The Evolution of Repressive Legality in Britain in the Revolutionary Period, 43 Loyola of Los Angeles International and Comparative Law Review 125 (2020)
  • From the State of Emergency to the Rule of Law: The Evolution of Repressive Legality in the Nineteenth Century British Empire, 20 Chicago Journal of International Law 1 (2019)
  • From Discretion to Law: Rights-Based Concerns and the Evolution of International Sanctions, 44 Brooklyn Journal of International Law 200 (2018)
  • On the Definition of Crimes Against Humanity and Other Widespread or Systematic Human Rights Violations, 20 University of Pennsylvania Journal of Law and Social Change 1 (2017)

REPRESENTATIVE CONSULTANCIES AND PRACTICAL PUBLICATIONS

  • Book Review: Michael Ng, Political Censorship in British Hong Kong: Freedom of Expression and the Law (forthcoming in Asian Journal of Comparative Law)
  • Book Review: Lisa Ford, The King’s Peace: Law and Order in the British Empire (forthcoming in Law and History Review)
  • Vagrancy and Vagrancy-Type Laws in Colonial History and Today, Transnational Legal History Group, CUHK
  • Book review, Geoffrey Gunn, Ho Chi Minh in Hong Kong: Anti-Colonial Networks, Extradition and the Rule of Law, 62 Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 247 (2022)
  • The Beginning of the End for Vagrancy Laws?, I Connect Blog (July 9, 2021)
  • With Clément Voule: Civil Society and Counterpowers Under Attack: The Current Situation, Consequences, and Lessons for Prevention, Politorbis No. 68 (2020)
  • Exacerbating the Public Health Emergency in Iran: US Blanket Sanctions and the COVID-19 Crisis, Verfassungsblog (Mar. 20, 2020)
  • Amicus Coordinator, Amicus on the Standard of Proof in International and African Human Rights Law, submitted in 2018 by the Center for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa, the International Service for Human Rights, the International Federation for Human Rights, and REDRESS, in the case of Mohamed Al-Asad v. Republic of Djibouti, Comm. No. 383/2010 before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
  • Expert Consultant, Guidelines on Freedom of Association and Assembly in Africa, adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in 2017
  • Author, The State of the Right to Freedom of Expression in Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia, published by Avocats Sans Frontières in 2016
  • Author, Admissibility of Complaints Before the African Human Rights System, published by the International Federation for Human Rights in 2016
  • Member of the Study Group and of the Editorial Drafting Committee, Report of the Study Group on Freedom of Association and Assembly in Africa, published by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights in 2014
  • Zaid Al-Ali, Christopher Roberts & Amos Toh, A Commentary on the Egyptian Constitutional Declaration Dated 17 June 2012, published by International IDEA in 2012

RESEARCH GRANTS AND CO-ORGANIZED CONFERENCES

REPRESENTATIVE CONFERENCES AND INVITED TALKS

  • Slavery and Forced Labor in the Interwar Period, 2nd Asian Legal History Conference, Bangkok, Thailand, July 2022
  • Discretion and the Rule of Law: The Dissemination, Endurance and Significance of Vagrancy Laws in Britain and the Former British Empire, 1800-2020, Law and Society Association Conference, Lisbon, Portugal, July 2022
  • The Exportation, Reception and Evolution of Vagrancy Laws in Hong Kong (with Hazel W.H. Leung), 3rd Legal Histories of Empire Conference, Maynooth University, Ireland (via zoom), June – July 2022
  • Panelist, Thinking about ‘the burden of proof’, DISSECT’s Talking Evidence Series, Ghent University, Belgium (via zoom), May 2022
  • The Vagrancy Law Model: Combatting Social Contagion Through Law and Ideology in the Anglo-World, c. 1824-1939, Governing Through Contagion Conference, National University of Singapore Faculty of Law, Singapore (via zoom), April 2022
  • Discretion and the rule of law: the dissemination, endurance and significance of vagrancy laws in England and the former British Empire, Common Law Research Seminar, Max Planck Institute for Legal History and Legal Theory, Frankfurt, Germany (via zoom), December 2021
  • Flexibility, Discretion and the Rule of Law: Vagrancy Laws in the British Empire, 1824- 1858, 1st Asian Legal History Conference, Hue, Vietnam (via zoom), July 2021
  • 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, Italy, June 2019
  • From Discretion to Law: Rights-Based Concerns and the Evolution of International Sanctions, Talk at the Law Faculty, Koç University, Istanbul, Turkey, May 2019
  • The Evolution of Repressive Legality in the Nineteenth Century British Empire, ‘State Building in Non-Democratic Societies’ Conference, European University Institute, Florence, Italy, May 2019
  • The Evolution of Repressive Legality in the Nineteenth Century British Empire, Talk at the Law Faculty, American University in Cairo, Cairo, Egypt, April 2019
  • Alternative Rights Visions, Max Weber Colloquium, European University Institute, Florence, Italy, September 2018
  • The Systemic Approach to Human Rights, International Society of Public Law Conference, Hong Kong University, Hong Kong SAR, June 2018
  • The Systemic Approach to Human Rights, Institute for Global Law and Policy Conference, Harvard Law School, Boston, U.S.A., 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, Netherlands, May 2017
  • Procedural Human Rights Violations and Complementarity: The Exhaustion of Remedies Rule and the African Commission, Association of Human Rights Institutions Conference, Copenhagen, Denmark, 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, Italy, June 2014

EDUCATION AND PROFESSIONAL QUALIFICATIONS

  • 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