The international fight against corruption lost one of its most steadfast and determined warriors with the passing in early April of Dimitri Vlassis, Chief of the Corruption and Economic Crime Branch of UNODC’s Division of Treaty Affairs. Many in governments, international organizations, and civil society who, over the last two decades, enlisted in the fight against corruption will immediately recognize the loss. They will have fought in the trenches with Dimitri at some point during these years in the long-struggle to draft, ratify, and implement the UN Convention Against Corruption. For recent recruits, who had yet to meet or hear of him, it is sufficient to say that he served as Secretary of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Negotiation of a Convention Against Corruption during the last, critical phase of the negotiations and was, at his passing, Secretary of the Conference of the States Parties to the Convention.
UNCAC represents the collective efforts of many of the world’s citizens, and a monument to their efforts would credit hundreds if not thousands. But surely at or near the top Dimitri’s name would feature prominently. The true measure of his contribution to global welfare, however, is the continuing difference UNCAC is making to the lives of people everywhere. For this we can all say, as UNODC Yuri Fedotov did in his note of condolence, “Thank you, Dimitri.”
I know all those in the global anticorruption community will join in expressing their condolences to Dimitri’s widow and two children. With permission, Director Fedotov’s condolence note is below.
It is with great sorrow that I am writing to inform you that Dimitri Vlassis, our longstanding Chief of the UNODC Corruption and Economic Crime Branch, passed away this morning.
Dimitri retired just eight days ago from his distinguished service. Words cannot convey how much he meant to us at UNODC. No message could be long enough to describe Dimitri’s contribution to the work of this Office. We owe the success of the Corruption and Economic Crime Branch, which Dimitri helped to build from the ground up nearly a decade ago, to him. The progress achieved through the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and its review mechanism is inextricably linked to the dedication and hard work of Dimitri Vlassis.
I relied on Dimitri through many Conferences of the States Parties to UNCAC – in Marrakech, Panama, St. Petersburg and Vienna – and most notably the 13thUN Crime Congress in Doha in 2015. I valued his professionalism, expertise, common sense and sound judgement. I appreciated his good humour and imposing calm under pressure. It is with profound grief that I now realize I will not have the opportunity to see Dimitri or speak with him again.
Colleagues, I know that you join me in sending our most heartfelt condolences to Litsa and their sons, and to the many friends Dimitri has made here and around the world.
Thank you, Dimitri. We will miss you.
Thank you Rick for your powerful words about the figure and stature of our dear friend and UNODC colleague Dimitri, who was not only Secretary of the UNCAC’s Negotiating Ad Hoc Committee since its early establishment, but also Secretary of the UNTOC’s Ad Hoc Committee which negotiated the Palermo Convention with its three Protocols. His contribution to the strengthening of international cooperation in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice will never be forgotten!