“Know Your Rights: Navigating Civil Liberties and Security” with Ehsan Zaffar.


“Know Your Rights: Navigating Civil Liberties and Security” with Ehsan Zaffar

Friday, February 24, 2017 | Drew University

Ehsan Zaffar is an expert on civil rights and civil liberties, especially with regard to balancing these rights and liberties with national security concerns.

He currently serves as a Senior Advisor at the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at the Department of Homeland Security in Washington D.C. where he advises the Secretary of Homeland Security and DHS components on the civil rights and civil liberties implications of existing and proposed national security policies, programs, and procedures. Mr. Zaffar advances the Department’s efforts to work with victims of hate crimes and discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, and sexual orientation.

He worked with diverse communities and young adults in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings and the church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina to build resilience and assist vulnerable communities as they work to counter violent extremism under the auspices of the White House’s National Strategy for Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism. Mr. Zaffar also leads the Department’s efforts to implement UNHRC Resolution 16/18 to combat intolerance and violence against persons on the basis of religion or belief.

Mr. Zaffar is a member of the faculties of Washington College of Law at American University, John Marshall Law School, George Mason University, and George Washington University. He teaches courses on homeland security policy, as well as privacy and surveillance law. He has lectured to audiences on these issues in Spain, Greece, Indonesia, Pakistan, Norway, Dubai, Italy and most recently Saudi Arabia. Mr. Zaffar earned his JD in 2008 from Pepperdine University School of Law where he also completed his studies in dispute resolution from the Straus Institute. He is licensed to practice law in California and the District of Columbia.

Prior to government service, Mr. Zaffar worked on human rights and rule of law issues in post-disaster and post-conflict environments both domestically and abroad. He is a panel mediator on national security and civil rights matters with the Agency for Dispute Resolution. Mr. Zaffar serves on the board of directors at Developments in Literacy (DIL), a non-profit organization that develops teacher training tools for schools and houses of worship in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia and the Amani Institute, a social entrepreneurship curriculum training institute in Kenya. He has previously served as a liaison to the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Standing Committee on National Security Law and as Chair of the ABA’s Section of International Law (Asia/Pacific Committee).

Mr. Zaffar’s writing has appeared on CNN.com, Slate, Muftah and The Huffington Post. His book Understanding Homeland Security: Foundations of Security Policy was published in 2017 by Routledge Press.