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Conferences & Events

The 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.

Multi-Stakeholder Consultations

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 and Human Rights course served as the official reporters for the session and their summary 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 can be viewed here.


Facebook Town Hall: In May 2019, the Center hosted a public town hall meeting, at which Facebook representatives were present to explain and receive input on the company's plan to develop an Oversight Board, an independent review board to provide oversight on a variety of the company's content decisions. The meeting received extensive press coverage in Oklahoma. 

Guest Speakers

Michael Samway: In March 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 and 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.


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.

Arvind Ganesan returned to the College of Law in September 2017 to speak about encryption and supply chain issues and again in April 2019 to speak about business and human rights issues and careers. 


Greg Nojeim: In September 2018, the Center hosted Greg Nojeim, Senior Counsel and Director of the Freedom, Security and Technology Project at the Center for Democracy & Technology in Washington, D.C. His first talk was to Professor Aswad's Human Rights Law class on "Digital Rights in the International Arena," where he covered hot tech and human rights topics such as censorship, intermediary liability, and privacy. He then spoke to students on "Digital Surveillance, Democracy, and Global Implications," where he discussed border security and email surveillance.

Networking Events

Speed Mentoring Lunch: In February 2018 and March 2019, the Center hosted a speed mentoring luncheon for students with business and human rights leaders from the legal community, civil society, government, and extractive & ICT companies. 

International Conferences

RightsCon 2017: In March 2017, the Center took 10 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 and Communication Technology Companies (such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and 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.


RightsCon 2018: In May 2018, Center staff traveled to Toronto for RightsCon. Professor Aswad spoke on a panel on the interplay of international human rights law, national regulation, and private platform policies. 


UN Forum on Business & Human Rights: In November 2018, Center staff traveled to Geneva to attend the UN Forum on Business & Human Rights, the world's largest annual gathering on business and human rights with more than 2,000 participants from government, business, community groups and civil society, law firms, investor organizations, UN bodies, national human rights institutions, trade unions, academia, and the media. The Center was especially proud to see Center alum Abby Henderson present on a panel at the forum. The trip also included a meeting on non-state grievance mechanisms for business and human rights harms at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and attendance at the International Code of Conduct Association's 5th Annual General Assembly.

Academic Conferences

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.

Continuing Legal Education

Steve Hill: In February 2018, the Center hosted its first CLE event with legal advisor and director of the Office of Legal Affairs at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Steven Hill. Hill spoke on “How Artificial Intelligence Could Affect Modern Warfare.” 


Greg Nojeim: In September 2018, the Center co-hosted its first Happy Hour and Fireside Chat with the Oklahoma Bar Association's International Law Section. Greg Nojeim, Senior Counsel and Director of the Freedom, Security and Technology Project at the Center for Democracy & Technology, spoke on "When Foreign Governments Want Your Stuff: Cross-Border Data Demands in the 21st Century."


Advisory Board Members: In March 2019, the Center hosted a CLE event featuring its Advisory Board members from corporations, government, and civil society. Board members spoke on "Hot Topics in Business & Human Rights."


Keith Harper: In March 2019, the Center co-hosted a CLE event with the Oklahoma Bar Association's International Law Section. Keith Harper, former U.S. Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, spoke on "The Human Rights Council & its Role in the International System."

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