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Home / 2014 Human Rights Summit Agenda

2014 Human Rights Summit Agenda

December 9 | December 10

DECEMBER 9, 2014, The Newseum, Knight Conference Center, 7th Floor


Doors Open - Breakfast


Welcome and Opening Message

Elisa Massimino President & CEO, Human Rights First
9:00am Keynote Address:
The Honorable Chris Coons
United States Senator from Delaware

NGOs as the Enemy Within?

Human rights defenders face particular challenges when their societies mobilize for war. In such circumstances, questioning government policies is often characterized as disloyalty or siding with the enemy. Human rights defenders become targets of defamation, persecution, and violence. The universal values they are seeking to uphold are themselves called into question and undermined. Does the U.S. government have a role in preserving the rights of activists espousing what may be deeply unpopular points of view in times of public fear and conflict?

Fred Hiatt
Editorial Page Editor, The Washington Post

Jessica Montell
Former Executive Director, B'Tselem; visiting research fellow at the Hebrew University School of Law (Israel)

Sergei Golubok
International human rights lawyer specializing in constitutional freedom; counsel for Greenpeace activists detained by Russian law-enforcement authorities in 2013 (Russia)

Gustavo Gallon
Director, Colombian Commission of Jurists (Colombia)


Networking Break


The Future of Europe in a Time of Political Extremism

Far-right parties scored electoral gains in a number of European countries this spring, giving them 59 seats in the European Parliament. Acts of antisemitic and xenophobic violence have grabbed headlines across Europe. In Greece and Hungary, openly racist and antisemitic parties continue to amass political power while they foster discrimination and violence. In France, Marine Le Pen's National Front made large gains in both European and local elections. Many far-right parties are courted by Russia, and they in turn have supported Russia in its conflict with Ukraine. Experts from France, Greece, and Hungary will sort out these trends at a time when the United States sorely needs a strong Trans-Atlantic Alliance. How are national governments/societies and the European Union responding? American policymakers are concerned, but how best should they respond? How concerned should U.S. and European leaders be over the ties between Russia and European far-right parties?

Michael H. Posner
Professor of Business and Society, Stern School of Business, New York University; former Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State

Tamas Bodoky
Editor-in-Chief of; author, Túlkapások (Hungary)

Dimitris Christopoulos
Vice President, International Federation for Human Rights; Associate Professor, Panteion University of Social & Political Science (Greece)

Jean-Yves Camus
Political Scientist; Director, Observatory of Political Radicalism at the Fondation Jean Jaurès; Associated Research Fellow, Institut de Relations Internationales et Strategiques (France)


Roger N. Baldwin Medal of Liberty Award Luncheon

Kholoud Saber Barakat
Human Rights Activist, Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE); Nazra Institute for Feminist Studies (Egypt)

Keynote Address:
Dr. Haleh Esfandiari
Director, Middle East Program, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars


Show Them the Money: What are the Lifelines for Civil Society in a Sea of Restrictions?

More and more governments—and not only authoritarian ones—are finding ways to close the space for independent civil society groups, especially those critical of government policies. As part of this effort, governments have developed sophisticated methods to undermine the credibility of international, and especially American, support for local human rights and democracy organizations. Russia and Egypt are leading the way: each has passed laws restricting access by independent civil society groups to foreign funding, which is essential to their existence. How should the U.S. government and other donors respond to these coordinated efforts to restrict human rights and democracy activists? Given the legal landscape, is foreign funding for NGOs even possible anymore?

Thomas Carothers
Vice President for Studies, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; author of Development Aid Confronts Politics: the Almost Revolution

Alev Scott
Journalist and author of Turkish Awakening (Turkey)

Victor Cha
Senior Adviser and Korea Chair, Center for Strategic & International Studies; Director of Asian Studies and D.S. Song-KF Chair, Georgetown University; author of The Impossible State: North Korea Past and Future

Margarita Lopez Maya
Latin America Program Fellow, Wilson Center; Profesor Titular, Center for Development Studies, Universidad Central de Venezuela (Venezuela)

2:15pm Networking Break

Back to Baghdad:  Next Stop in "The Forever War"?

December marks the end of the 13-year U.S. combat presence in Afghanistan. But with military operations continuing from Pakistan to Somalia, and with the U.S. opening up a new front in Iraq and Syria, the U.S. is still very much at war. Legacies of the last decade's wars, such as the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay and disputes over the U.S. use of torture, persist. Extremist groups once aligned closely with Al Qaeda central have morphed into disparate regional entities, and founded new ones. Which, if any, pose actual threats to the United States, what is the best strategy for dealing with them, and where, if anywhere, should the U.S. be "at war"?

Kevin Baron
Executive Editor, Defense One

Major General Paul D. Eaton, U.S. Army (Ret.)
Senior Advisor, National Security Network

Daniel Benjamin
Norman E. McCulloch Jr. Director of the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding; former Ambassador-at-Large and Coordinator for Counterterrorism, U.S. Department of State

Benjamin Wittes
Senior Fellow, Governance Studies, Brookings Institution


Keynote Address:

The Honorable Tom Malinowski
Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
U.S. Department of State


Progress and Backlash in the Global Struggle for LGBT Equality

Human rights advocates often describe achieving full equality for LGBT people as the next chapter in the struggle for universal human rights. For many years this movement appeared to be one of steady gains, but we are now facing a moment of profound backlash. LGBT citizens of Russia, India, Uganda, and Nigeria have seen a sharp curtailment of their rights. In many cases, this is part of a larger attack on civil society, marked by laws and policies aimed at freedom of expression, freedom of association, and other basic rights. Support for such laws is often driven by anti-Western sentiment. How can the United States respond in ways that will improve the lives of LGBT people?

Opening Remarks:
The Honorable David Cicilline

United States Representative for Rhode Island's First Congressional District

Michael Lavers
Washington Blade

Clare Byarugaba
Co-Coordinator, Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law (Uganda)

Gleb Latnik
Russian LGBT activist (Russia)

Syinat Sultanalieva
Board member of Kyrgyz LGBT organization Labrys (Kyrgyzstan)


"Voices of Hope" LGBT Reception
7th floor, Knight Conference Center, The Newseum. Open to the public.

Special Guest:
The Honorable Chris Gibson
United States Congressman for the 19th District of New York

Join us immediately after the final panel of the day for a celebratory reception with prominent LGBT activists, policymakers and special guests in honor of this past year's victories for the human rights of the global LGBT community.

Appetizers and refreshments provided.

DECEMBER 10, 2014, The Newseum, Knight Conference Center, 7th Floor

8:00am Doors Open - Breakfast

Welcome and Opening Message

Elisa Massimino President & CEO, Human Rights First

Can We Bankrupt the Business of Human Trafficking?

Modern day slavery is a human rights scourge that affects an estimated 21 million people. It's also a hugely profitable—and growing—global business, bringing in $150 billion a year for the exploiters. Business is booming largely because exploiters operate with relative impunity. Many companies have started to focus on ridding their supply chains of slave labor. But there's another supply chain that's relevant here: the many actors that recruit, transport, and house the victims along the way to final sale or exploitation, as well as those who move the money associated with this criminal enterprise. The private sector could play a game-changing role in disrupting this network by making slavery more risky and less profitable. This panel will feature case studies of private sector initiatives—including public-private partnerships—designed to bankrupt the business of trafficking.

Monique Villa
CEO, Thomson Reuters Foundation; Founder, TrustLaw and the Trust Women conference

Barry M. Koch
Senior Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer, Western Union

Tammy Lee Stanoch
Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Carlson

Maria Odom
Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Peter Austin
Philanthropic Engineer, Palantir


Networking Break


Not Just a Game: Can Sports be a Vehicle to Advance Human Rights?

In September 2014, the International Olympic Committee took an important step by adding an anti-discrimination clause to their host country contracts. These new rules, prompted by the outcry after Russian anti-gay laws cast a long shadow over the 2014 Sochi games, forbid all discrimination, "in particular the prohibition of any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise." Major sporting events garner the attention of the world and have frequently brought to the forefront issues of discrimination, rights abuses, inclusion, and equality. Activists use these events to spotlight vulnerable communities and causes. How can sports advance human rights? What are the responsibilities of those that benefit from these major events—host locations, sponsors, sports governing organizations, and the media—to respect human rights?

Christine Brennan
USA Today sports columnist, best-selling author and nationally known speaker

Eli A. Wolff
Director of the Inclusive Sports Initiative, Institute for Human Centered Design

Greg Louganis
Four-time Olympic diving champion and motivational speaker

Shireen Ahmed
Footballer, writer and advocate for Muslim women in sports


Universal Declaration of Human Rights Luncheon

A Closer Look: The Senate Human Rights Caucus

The Honorable Mark Kirk
United States Senator for Illinois

Elisa Massimino
President & CEO, Human Rights First


The Ideological Struggle between Autocracy and Democracy: Who's Winning?

Earlier this year, an op-ed in the New York Times declared, "The ideological struggle between autocracy and democracy has returned." The article was about the crisis in Ukraine, but a similar struggle is taking place in other parts of the world, including Asia and the Middle East. Authoritarian powers like China, Saudi Arabia, and Iran are projecting their influence to oppose the spread of democracy and human rights. Meanwhile, democratically elected governments with authoritarian tendencies, especially those that maintain strong popular support, present a challenge for U.S. policy. How should the United States engage in "the intellectual and normative struggle" against authoritarianism? Can the U.S. government promote democratic pluralism in countries where both the government and a sizeable proportion of the population oppose them? Can technology aid in identifying and carrying out a long-term solution?

Scott Carpenter
Deputy Director, Google Ideas

Mohammad A. Tabaar
Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University 

Caryle Murphy
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of Passion for Islam and A Kingdom's Future: Saudi Arabia Through the Eyes of Its Twentysomethings

Tamas Bodoky
Editor-in-Chief of; author, Túlkapások (Hungary)

Zachary Abuza
Principal, Southeast Asia Analytics; Professor of Political Science, Simmons College


Executive Action: Challenges, Opportunities and Protection of Vulnerable Immigrant Groups

With the President's recent announcement of executive action to provide relief from deportation to several million immigrants, the political battles have reignited. But are there opportunities for bipartisan agreement over the next year? On what key issues? What are the human rights implications of recent announcements? Are there opportunities to re-evaluate and reset some of the harsher approaches to the border, like the detention of mothers and children?

Edward Alden
Bernard L. Schwartz Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations; former Washington Bureau Chief of the Financial Times

Grover Norquist
President, Americans for Tax Reform

Galen Carey 
Vice President of Government Relations, National Association of Evangelicals

Thomas A. Saenz
President and General Counsel, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF)

Alex Nowrasteh
Immigration Policy Analyst, Cato Institute


War and Peace: Who Decides?

After 9/11, Congress enacted an Authorization for the Use of Military Force empowering the executive branch to go after the perpetrators and planners of that crime, including those who harbored or protected them. Thirteen years later that authorization remains in effect and the current administration has used it for a wide range of military operations—including drone strikes—that many argue go far beyond what Congress intended. In May 2013, President Obama launched a national conversation about the legal basis of counterterrorism operations, cautioning that perpetual war degrades our democracy. The United States continues to engage in military action in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, and elsewhere. What is the appropriate role for Congress in the decision to use force? How should it balance giving the executive branch the authority it needs with the duty to ensure debate and oversight?

Mark Mazzetti
Pulitzer Prize-winning National Security Correspondent, The New York Times; author of The Way of the Knife

Richard Fontaine
President, Center for a New American Security (CNAS)

Stephen I. Vladeck
Professor of Law, American University Washington College of Law; Co-Editor-in-Chief, Just Security; Senior Editor of the Journal of National Security Law & Policy


Keynote Address:

General John F. KellyUnited States Marine Corps
Commander, U.S. Southern Command


What Can We Learn from the 9/11 Generation?

In a speech delivered on Memorial Day in 1895, Oliver Wendell Holmes captured the sentiments of many veterans of the Civil War when he uttered the words, "We have shared the incommunicable experience of war; we have felt, we still feel, the passion of life to its top." Two generations later the world fought the Great War, and in Flanders Field and the trenches of Europe, millions died pointlessly. World War II veterans remember theirs as the "Good War." In Vietnam, American soldiers fought a war that divided their own country. How does the post-9/11 generation of veterans view their experience? Is America better for having fought these wars? 

Yochi Dreazen
Managing Editor, Foreign Policy; author of The Invisible Front

Rye Barcott
United States Marine Corps Veteran; Co-founder, Carolina for Kibera and author of It Happened on the Way to War

Maura C. Sullivan
United States Marine Corps Veteran; Assistant Secretary, Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Bill Rausch
Political Director, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)