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 Human Rights Law
  • Freedom of Expression & Religion


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.  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, Professor Aswad served as the U.S. substitute member on the Council of Europe's Commission for Democracy through Law (better known as the "Venice Commission"), which issues opinions on a variety of international human rights, constitutional justice and rule of law matters to governments as well as international organizations.  Professor Aswad was named outstanding faculty member by College of Law students in 2014 and received the university-wide David L. Boren Award for Outstanding Global Engagement in 2016.

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 head of the Office of Human Rights and Refugees.  She advised senior officials on a wide range of international human rights law matters, including 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


-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

-Law, Borders, and Speech Conference, Stanford University Center for Internet and Society, October 2016 (served as a panelist during the closed session of the conference).

-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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