Demetrios G. Papademetriou, a Greek-American scholar and activist on migration, died on January 26 in Washington DC. He was 75.
Papademetriou was born in Patra in western Greece in 1946 and went to the United States on a scholarship in 1964.
Papademetriou was a co-founder of the Migration Policy Institute, a US-based think-tank. He was the institute’s first president, from 2001-14. Since 2008, he was the convenor of the institute’s Transatlantic Council on Migration, a body that brought together senior officials, businesspeople and scholars from the European Union, the United States, Canada and Australia to explore migration policy challenges and solutions.
“Demetri was a mentor to young and old, an advisor to leaders and learners alike,” said his long-time colleague and friend, Antonio Vitorino, director general of the International Organization for Migration and a former European commissioner for justice and home affairs in the Prodi Commission.
“He was patient and generous in sharing his knowledge, which was unrivaled,” said Vitorino.
Hugo Brady, a top advisor to former European Council President Jean-Claude Juncker, noted: “Among a galaxy of professional achievements including, of course, the Migration Policy Institute, he was the link between the American and European worlds in migration, a true pontifex maximus (chief bridge builder).”
The European Union Agency for Asylum published the following tribute on Monday:
It is with great sadness that the European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA) mourns the passing of Dr Demetrios G. Papademetriou last week.
Dr Papademetriou was a giant in the world of migration and asylum research. He devoted his long and illustrious career to working with international organizations, academia, national governments and civil society, with the aim of developing policies and practices which protect the world’s most vulnerable. He was a larger-than-life figure who ardently advocated for the international community to seek practical and effective solutions to the challenges of migration management.
Universally recognized as one of the international community’s most influential migration policy leaders, Dr Papademetriou was also a strong advocate and ally of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and vocal supporter of its transformation into the EUAA. He was a frequent speaker at events of the agency, most recently at its 10-year anniversary event last October.
Working with, and advising, numerous national governments and international organizations, he believed that multilateralism was the key to ensuring that the rights of migrants and asylum seekers were safeguarded and indeed enhanced. In this spirit of multilateralism, he was the founding president of the Migration Policy Institute from 2001-2014, following which he became president emeritus and distinguished transatlantic fellow. His academic and policy advocacy for a strong and effective Common European Asylum System, as well as transatlantic cooperation on migration management, likewise highlight this philosophy.
Dr Papademetriou will always be remembered by all at the EUAA for invoking new ideas and for never shying away from holding institutional partners and authorities to account – all in the name of protecting those seeking protection and human decency.
His survivors include his wife Margie McHugh, herself a prominent leader at the Migration Institute, a daughter, Natalie, and a son, Niko.