Ward & Ward Partner and Georgetown Professor Mark Vlasic was referred to by DEVEX as an “International Development Renaissance Man” in a recent profile highlighting Professor Vlasic’s international law and development efforts around the world.
International Development Renaissance Man: Mark Vlasic
A modern-day polymath, Washington-based international lawyer and Georgetown University professor Mark Vlasic brings experiences in the public, private, military and academic worlds to the courtroom, boardroom and classroom.
Vlasic’s study of Jesuit theology at Georgetown and service in the U.S. Army first stoked his sense of obligation to humankind. Helping to prosecute Slobodan Milosevic and other genocide cases at the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, Vlasic saw “the darkest side of humanity.” He cited the passage from Romans 12:21 — “do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” — as a guiding philosophy for his work.
What binds his many professional roles is his mission to make good governance and the rule of law key elements of international development. As head of operations for the joint World Bank and United Nations Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative, or StAR, Vlasic worked with the Swiss and Haitian governments to help return funds plundered by the country’s former ruler, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier.
“I think the fight against impunity for war crimes began at Nuremberg some 65 years ago, and I think that the fight against impunity for economic crimes and specifically the global effort to recover stolen assets began when [World Bank President] Robert Zoellick and [U.N. Secretary-General] Ban Ki-moon launched the StAR Initiative at the U.N. General Assembly in September 2007,” he said, praising Zoellick for making StAR his “first initiative” at the bank. “Thus, while there have been some early reasons for optimism in the effort to return stolen assets to developing countries, the path ahead is fraught with challenges, and it is only through the political will of individual leaders – both political leaders and technical experts working on specific cases – that will lead to a landscape where there is no safe haven for stolen assets.”
Vlasic, who is now in private practice, is serving as international legal adviser to the Liberia Asset Recovery Team, which is seeking to recoup funds embezzled by Charles Taylor. The former Liberian president is currently on trial for war crimes in The Hague.