Conferences & Events

Conferences & EventsThe Center seeks to provide (1) College of Law students and alumni with opportunities to meet leading figures from the business community, government, and civil society who are working on contemporary IBHR challenges and (2) a venue for discussion of critical IBHR issues.

National Action Plan: In April 2015, Professor Aswad hosted consultations on the U.S. Government’s upcoming National Action Plan (NAP) on Responsible Business Conduct Abroad at the College of Law.  Federal government officials from the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Commerce, and U.S. Agency for International Development participated along with representatives of major oil companies and tribal representatives and non-governmental organizations.  OU Law students participated in all the discussions, met the distinguished participants in small group settings, and even pitched their own proposals to high ranking U.S. Government officials during the consultations.  Students in Professor Aswad’s International Business & Human Rights course served as the official reporters for the session. The summary prepared by Professor Aswad’s students can be found here. Our consultations were featured on the White House webpage as one of a small handful of universities to serve in such a capacity. In December 2016, the U.S. NAP was released and Professor Aswad attended the White House launch event in D.C. A video of the event as well as the NAP itself can be viewed here.

Law Review Symposium: In the Fall of 2015, Professor Aswad and students from the Oklahoma Law Review coordinated a symposium of leading figures to discuss issues that arise with the use of private security contractors abroad in areas with weak governance mechanisms.  Panelists included officials from the U.S. Government (State Department), civil society (Human Rights Watch), and industry (Kosmos Energy).  Students were afforded the opportunity to meet and have lunch with these distinguished panelists. 

Michael Samway: In February 2017, the Center hosted Michael Samway, a former vice president and deputy general counsel at Yahoo! who also led the international legal team and founded Yahoo!’s Business & Human Rights Program.  He spoke to students about his firsthand experience involving the evolution of business, human rights, and the Internet.  Mr. Samway is also a founder of the Global Network Initiative (GNI), a multi-stakeholder initiative that strives to promote respect for international human rights law protections for freedom of expression and privacy.  The GNI is comprised of companies such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Yahoo! as well as human rights groups, responsible investors, and academics.


RightsCon: In March 2017, the Center took ten Human Rights Practicum students to attend RightsCon in Belgium.  RightsCon is the leading international conference on the Internet and human rights.  In 2017, over 1,500 participants from over 100 countries attended.  Participants included government officials (including the U.S. Department of State and European Union officials), representatives from Information & Communication Technology Companies (such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, & Yahoo!), non-governmental organizations (including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch), online dissidents from various countries, technology specialists, and academics.  The trip also included a tour of NATO headquarters and a visit to the European Parliament.  Official photos from RightsCon can be found here and recorded sessions from the conference can be watched here.


Arvind Ganesan: In April 2017, the Center hosted Arvind Ganesan, Director of the Business and Human Rights Division at Human Rights Watch in Washington, D.C.  He spoke to students about his personal experience getting involved in the field of business and human rights, and discussed the challenges involved with this field during its early stages.  Mr. Ganesan is also a founder of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, an initiative to promote respect for human rights in the provision of security services for the oil, gas, and mining sectors.  He is also a founder and board member of the Global Network Initiative, a multi-stakeholder initiative to promote respect for freedom of expression and privacy in the internet and communication telecommunications sector.