Amanda Lyons ’09

  • Executive Director, Human Rights Center & Lecturer in Law
  • University of Minnesota Law School, J.D.

Office: N120C
Mondale Hall, 229 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Amanda Lyons ’09 is Executive Director of the Human Rights Center at the University of Minnesota Law School. She is a specialist in international human rights law and advocacy, and her work looks at rights-based approaches to economic, environmental, and gender justice.

Amanda works with HRC faculty, researchers, staff, students, and partners to advance the Center’s wide-reaching research, teaching, advocacy, and outreach agenda. Her own research and policy work is in the area of economic and social rights, including the rights of peasants and LGBTQI rights. She is a Lecturer in Law, teaches courses on Poverty & Human Rights and Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Human Rights, and runs the Human Rights Field Placement experiential learning course. In support of her teaching, Amanda received a Schochet Grant (2019) and a UMN Teaching Innovation Grant (2018). She is part of the Human Rights Lab/Minnesota Model, a Grand Challenges-supported research initiative. 

Before joining the University of Minnesota in 2016, Amanda served for 5 years as the New York Head of Office and Americas Program Coordinator for the NGO, Franciscans International (FI). In that role she designed and supported grassroots human rights advocacy strategies at the UN on a range of issues, including business and human rights, poverty, gender, the rights of indigenous peoples, and environmental justice. Her advocacy work focused on the UN Human Rights Council, including treaty bodies, special procedures, and the Universal Periodic Review, and on the 2011-2015 sustainable development negotiations, including Rio+20 and the Sustainable Development Goals/2030 Agenda.

From 2009-2011 Amanda was a Legal Researcher and Advisor for the International Center for Transitional Justice based in Bogotá, Colombia. There she focused on international criminal law, gendered perspectives on transitional justice, and project monitoring and evaluation. She also worked for one year as an intern with the Comissão Teotonio Vilela at the Núcleo de Estudios de Violencia, Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil. 

Originally from Austin, MN, Amanda is a proud 2009 graduate of the University of Minnesota and earned her J.D. magna cum laude with a concentration in international human rights law. She has a B.A. in Sociology and Latin American Studies from the University of Notre Dame.


Poverty and Human Rights

Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Human Rights



  • COVID-19 & Human Rights (Routledge, 2021) (co-editor) Morten Kjaerum & Martha F. Davis
  • Research Handbook on Human Rights and Poverty (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2021) (co-editor) Martha F. Davis & Morten Kjaerum
  • Políticas públicas que hacen justicia: Cuatro temas en la agenda de reparación en Colombia (ICTJ & UNDP, 2011) (lead editor) Astrid Elena Villegas, Milosz Kusz, Paul Seils, Marcie Mersky & María Camila Moreno
  • Contested Transitions: Dilemmas of Transitional Justice in Colombia and Comparative Experience (ICTJ, 2010) (co-editor)   Michael Reed

Journal Articles

  • Reclaiming the Human Rights Foundations of the UN Standards of Conduct for Business on Tackling Discrimination against LGBTI People, Business and Human Rights Journal (forthcoming 2021) Cooper Christiancy
  • La Cúpula de los Pueblos exhorta a la Cumbre Rio+20 : “No solo de pan vive el hombre,” 10(10) Energeia 109 (2012) Maria Elena Arada Díaz

Book Chapters

  • A Paradigm Shift for the Sustainable Development Goals? Human Rights and the Private Sector in the New Social Contract, in COVID-19 & Human RIghts  (Morten Kjaerum, Martha F. Davis & Amanda Lyons, eds., Routledge, forthcoming 2021)
  • Water Provision, Rights, and Poverty in the Context of Sustainable Development Goals, in Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals: Clean Water & Sanitation (Walter Leal Filho et al., eds., Springer, published online Mar. 27, 2021)
  • Globalizar o direito: A importância do litígio doméstico em sintonia com o litígio internacional e sua incidência em fóruns internacionais, in Na justiça: instrumentos de litígio e defesa de comunidades afetadas pela mineração (Ana Rüsche, Daniel Santini & Verena Glass, eds., Fundação Rosa Luxemburgo, Justiça Global & Justiça nos Trilhos, 2015) Alexandra Montgomery
  • Reconocer la discriminación de género: La igualdad como un requisito para el desarrollo de políticas de justicia transicional legítimas y eficaces, in Políticas públicas que hacen justicia: Cuatro temas en la agenda de reparación en Colombia (Amanda Lyons et al., eds., ICTJ & UNDP) (2011)
  • Reporte temático de política exterior colombiano: derechos humanos y derecho internacional humanitario, in Sandra Borda et al., Misión de Política Exterior 2009-2010, (Universidad de los Andes, 2011) Barbara Frey & Kathryn Sikkink
  • For a Just Transition in Colombia, in Contested Transitions: Dilemmas of Transitional Justice in Colombia (Amanda Lyons & Michael Reed, eds., ICTJ, 2010)

Other Publications

  • Water & Sanitation - A People’s Guide to SDG 6: A Rights-Based Approach to Implementation (Mining Working Group, 2017)
  • Critical Hope for the SDGs: Advocating from the Margins for Social, Economic, and Environmental Justice in the Context of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (International Presentation Association, 2016) (lead author)
  • A Guide to Rights-based Advocacy: International Human Rights Law and Fracking (Sisters of Mercy, 2015) (contributor)
  • Making Human Rights Work for People Living in Extreme Poverty (Franciscans International & ATD Fourth World, 2015) (contributor)
  • A Rights-based Approach to Resource Extraction in the Pursuit of Sustainable Development (NGO Mining Working Group, 2014) (lead author)
  • Development: Sustainable for Whom? (Franciscans International, 2014) (contributor)
  • Colombia: Impact of the Rome Statute and the International Criminal Court (ICTJ, 2010) Michael Reed

Contact Information

University of Minnesota Law School

Walter F. Mondale Hall | 229 19th Avenue South | Minneapolis, MN 55455

P: 612-625-5000

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