Evelyn Aswad

  • Professor of Law
  • Herman G. Kaiser Chair in International Law


BSFS, Summa Cum Laude, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, 1992

J.D., Magna Cum Laude, Georgetown University Law Center, 1995

Research Interests

  • International Law
  • International Human Rights Law
  • Business & Human Rights


Evelyn Aswad is a Professor of Law and the Herman G. Kaiser Chair in International Law.  She is also the Director of the Center for International Business and Human Rights.   Her scholarship focuses on the intersection of international human rights law, technology, corporate responsibility standards, and freedom of expression.  She is a recipient of the David Ross Boyd Professorship, which is one of the university’s highest honors.

Professor Aswad is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Law Institute. Professor Aswad serves on the Advisory Committee on International Law to the U.S. Department of State’s Office of the Legal Adviser. From 2013-2017, she served as the U.S. Substitute Member to the Council of Europe’s Commission for Democracy Through Law (better known as the Venice Commission).  From 2015-2020, she was a member of the U.S. Department of State’s Stakeholder Advisory Board to the Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy.  She was also nominated in 2021 by the U.S. Government to be the U.S. candidate for the International Law Commission.

Prior to joining the College of Law, Professor Aswad served for about 14 years as an attorney in the Legal Bureau at the U.S. Department of State, most recently as the Director of the Office of Human Rights and Refugees. At the U.S. State Department, she advised senior officials on a wide range of international human rights law matters, including Internet freedom, the assessment of foreign laws and practices with respect to human rights obligations, issues at the intersection of international business and human rights, U.S. ratification of human rights treaties, human rights litigation in U.S. courts, issues involving mass atrocities and accountability, and matters arising in multilateral fora, such as U.S. participation at the United Nation’s (UN) Human Rights Council and its Universal Periodic Review process.

She served as legal adviser for U.S. delegations in a variety of multilateral fora, including the UN Commission on the Status of Women, the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, the UN Human Rights Council, the Organization of American States, the OSCE Annual Human Dimension Implementation meeting, and the delegation presenting the U.S. Periodic Report to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination as well as the delegation presenting the first US Universal Periodic Review report to the UN.  She received superior honor awards for advancing international human rights through bilateral and multilateral diplomacy.

In a previous legal position at the State Department, she worked on nuclear non-proliferation matters providing legal advice on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), various regional nuclear weapon free zone treaties, and nuclear safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), including serving as legal adviser for U.S. delegations at IAEA and NPT conferences.

She taught international human rights law and multilateral negotiations to U.S. diplomats at the Department’s Foreign Service Institute.  In addition, she taught international courses as an adjunct professor at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service as well as its Law Center.  Prior to joining the State Department, she worked at the Washington, D.C. law firm of Arnold & Porter and clerked for the Honorable Arthur J. Gajarsa at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C.

Additional Information

Courses Taught


  • International Business & Human Rights
  • International Law Foundations
  • International Human Rights
  • Human Rights Practicum

Awards & Honors

Outstanding Faculty Member, College of Law, 2014

David L. Boren Award for Outstanding Global Engagement, 2016

World Experiences Foundation, Global Citizen in Law, 2017

Institutional Impact Award, University of Oklahoma College of Law, 2018

"Fifty Making A Difference" Awardee in Oklahoma Journal Record's Woman of the Year Awards, 2019

David Ross Boyd Professorship, 2021


-E. Aswad & D. Kaye, Convergence and Conflict: Reflections on Global and Regional Approaches to Hate Speech, 20 Nw. J. Hum. Rts. 165 (2022).

-E. Aswad, Taking Exception to Assessments of American Exceptionalism: Why the United States Isn’t Such an Outlier on Free Speech, 126 Dick. L. Rev. 69 (2021).

-E. Aswad, Losing the Freedom to Be Human, 52 Colum. Hum. Rts. L. Rev. 306 (2020).

-E. Aswad, In a World of "Fake News," What's a Social Media Company to Do?, 2020 Utah L. Rev. 1009 (2020).

-E. Aswad, To Protect Freedom of Expression, Why Not Steal Victory from the Jaws of Defeat?, 77 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 609 (2020).

-E. Aswad, The Future of Freedom of Expression Online, 17 Duke L. & Tech. Review 26 (2018).  

-E. Aswad, Are Recent Governmental Initiatives to Combat Online Hate Speech, Extremism, and Fraudulent News Consistent with the International Human Rights Law Regime? (Governance Innovation for a Connected World: Protecting Free Expression, Diversity and Civic Engagement in the Global Digital Ecosystem, A Special Report by Stanford University’s Global Digital Policy Incubator & the Center for International Governance Innovation) (2018).

-E. Aswad, International Business & Human Rights: A Digital Coursebook (2017). (kindle e-book available on Amazon)

-E. Aswad, The Role of U.S. Technology Companies as Enforcers of Europe’s New Internet Hate Speech Ban, 1 Columbia Human Rights Law Review Online 1 (2016). 

-E. Aswad, The Role of Religion in Constitutions Emerging from Arab Spring Revolutions, 16.1 Geo. J. Int’l Affairs 159 (Winter/Spring 2015).

-E Aswad, R. Hussain, & M. Suleman, Why the United States Cannot Agree to Disagree on Blasphemy Laws, 32 B.U. Int’l L.J. 119 (2014).

-E. Aswad, To Ban or Not to Ban Blasphemous Videos, 44 Geo. J. Int’l L. 1313 (2013).

-A. Gajarsa, E. Aswad, & J. Cianfrani, How Much Fuel to Add to the Fire of Genius? 48 Am. U. L. Rev. 1205 (1999).

-E. Aswad, Torture by Means of Rape, 84 Geo. L. J. 1914 (1996) (cited favorably in three federal appellate decisions: 99 F.3d 954 (9th Cir. 1996), 395 F.3d 932 (9th Cir. 2002), and 333 F.3d 463 (3rd Cir. 2003)).

Selected Speaking Engagements

- Harvard Journal of Law & Technology, Speaker Series (April 2022), provided remarks social media and international human rights standards.

- Georgetown University’s Masters in Foreign Service, Tech Talks (March 2022), served on panel discussing business and human rights approaches to technology.

- Yale Information Society Project (Feb. 2022), panel discussion on business and human rights issues involving the tech sector.

-UCLA Institute for Technology, Law and Policy, Panel discussion titled Scoping the Problem: Between a Rock and a Hard Place (Panelist) (Nov. 2021).

-Digital Technology Camp run by Stanford University’s Global Digital Policy Incubator & the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (Aug. 2021).

-RightsCon 2021, Panel discussion titled Silencing the Silenced? The Impact of Takedown Legislations on Civil Liberties and Human Rights (Panelist) (June 2021).

-RightsCon 2021, Panel discussion on Oversight Board for Facebook  (June 2021).

-Social Media & the Language of Statehood, Webinar for the American Branch of the International Law Association (International Law Weekend – south region) (April 2021).

-Are We Truly Free to Express Our Opinions?, The Better Human Podcast (January 2021) (served as the featured speaker discussing impacts of business models that deploy technology to collect and monetize personal data)

-Chatham House Roundtable on Freedom of Opinion, December 2020, participated as a featured panelist in a private roundtable on the intersection of freedom of opinion and technology

-Still Funny? Satire, Deepfakes, and Human Rights Globally, Webinar hosted by Witness (October 2020).

-Free Expression v. Misinformation Online: Who Decides?, Gallup and Knight Foundation Webinar (June 2020).

-Meet the New Facebook Oversight Board, Aspen Institute Webinar, (May 2020).

-Return of the Gatekeepers: Section 230 and the Future of Online Speech, CATO Institute, Washington, DC (March 2020) (served as a speaker on a panel titled The Future (and Past) of Content Moderation).

-American University Law Review Symposium on Law and Democracy, Washington, DC (Jan. 2020) (served as a speaker on a panel focused on online political speech).

-The State of the Net Conference, Washington, DC (Jan. 2020) (served as a speaker on panel entitled Regulating Speech: Next Decade, Can We Do Better?).

-The Future of Speech Online Conference, Washington, DC (Nov. 2019) (served as a panelist discussing the utility of international human rights law for protecting online speech).

-Tackling Cyber Disinformation in Elections: Applying International Human Rights Law, London, England (Nov. 2019) (served as a panelist for a discussion hosted by the Royal Institute of International Affairs, better known as Chatham House).

-Utah Law Review Symposium: News, Disinformation, & Corporate Responsibility, Salt Lake City, Utah (Oct. 2019) (served as a panelist discussing the application of the UN Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights in the context of “fake news”).

-Social Media Councils: From Concept to Reality, Working Meeting hosted by Stanford University’s Global Digital Policy Incubator, Article 19, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, Palo Alto, CA, February 2019 (served as lead commentator for session on substantive standards for content moderation and discussed key arguments from my article: The Future of Freedom of Expression Online).

-The Global Digital Platform and the Nation State:  Roles, Responsibilities, and Interactions to Optimize Human Rights in the Digital Space, RightsCon, Toronto, Canada (May 2018) (served as a panelist discussing the role of international freedom of expression protections with respect to online speech).

-Governance Innovation in a Connected World: Protecting Free Expression, Diversity & Civic Engagement in the Global Digital Ecosystem, International Meeting hosted by hosted by Stanford's Global Digital Policy Incubator (GDPi) and the Center for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), with the Canadian Ministry of Heritage, Palo Alto, CA (March 2018) (served as a panelist discussing human rights law online).

-Tulsa Committee on Foreign Relations, Tulsa, Oklahoma (January 2018) (address on international business and human rights issues).

-Law, Borders, and Speech Conference, Stanford University Center for Internet and Society, October 2016 (served as a panelist discussing international protections for freedom of expression online).

-Freedom Online Coalition Annual Meeting, San Jose, Costa Rica, October 2016 (served as a speaker on a panel discussion organized by the U.S. and German governments on hate speech and harassment online).

-Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute Annual Training, New York, NY, April 2014 (presentation on the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination).

-UN Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18 Implementation Meeting, Geneva, Switzerland, June 2013 (presentation to UN member state delegations on legal protections for freedom of expression in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights).

-The Next Season: Realigning International Law and Western Policy After the Arab Spring, Boston University Law School Symposium, Boston, MA, March 2013 (delivered keynote address on issues of freedom of expression, freedom of religion, and religious tolerance).

-Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute Annual Training, New York, NY, March 2012 (presentation on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights).

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