First published in August 23, 2008 Armenian Reporter.
Yuri Barsegov, 83, international law expert and Armenian patriot
Left to right: Masis Mayilian, Yuri Barsegov and Arkady Ghoukasian during negotiations on Karabakh in Helsinki, Finland in 1995.
WASHINGTON – Yuri Georgievich Barsegov, an Armenian patriot, respected expert in international law, and prominent representative of the Russian-Armenian community died in Moscow on August 6. He was 83.
Mr. Barsegov was born in 1925 in Tbilisi to Armenian parents. His father was an army officer and later deputy director of the Tbilisi Aviation Plant and his mother taught Armenian language at a local school.
Following army service on the Soviet-Turkish border between 1943 and 1945, Mr. Barsegov enrolled and graduated from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) in 1950, and then enrolled in its graduate school, where in 1953 he prepared his dissertation on the subject of “Armenian territories in international
agreements,” focusing on consequences of the Armenian Genocide.
But citing relations with Turkey, the Soviet Foreign Ministry–affiliated Institute refused to hear the dissertation, forcing Mr. Barsegov to drop the Armenian case study and instead defend his degree on a more general topic. (Half a century later, the case study became the basis for Barsegov’s books on the subject.)
After leaving MGIMO, Mr. Barsegov was an international relations editor for the Inostrannaya Literatura (Foreign Literature) press that produced translations of major foreign publications.
From 1962 to 1969 and again from 1972 to 1979, Mr. Barsegov worked at the United Nations Secretariat. From 1969 to 1972 and again from 1979 until his retirement he worked at the Soviet Academy of Sciences’ Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), where he headed the Oceans and Environment Department, while teaching at the Moscow University of Peoples’ Friendship.
Over his long career, Mr. Barsegov emerged as a leading authority on the international law of the sea, defending his doctorate on the subject at the Soviet Foreign Ministry’s Diplomatic Academy in 1984 and from 1986 to 1987 serving as a member of the Soviet delegation to the Preparatory Commission for the International Seabed Authority and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.
From 1987 to 1991, Mr. Barsegov represented the Soviet Union as a member of the United Nations General Assembly’s International Law Commission of experts.
Author of more than 500 works on international law, Mr. Barsegov was a life-long activist on Armenian national issues, particularly the consequences of the Genocide and campaign for Karabakh’s re-unification with Armenia.
In 1993, at the height of the Karabakh war, Mr. Barsegov published a three-part monograph outlining the international legal bases for Karabakh’s right to self-determination.
From 1993 to 1997 Mr. Barsegov advised the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’s delegation to the peace talks mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperate in Europe (OSCE). Former senior NKR diplomat Masis Mayilyan who worked with Mr. Barsegov in the 1990s described him to the Armenian Reporter as “a great human being, great patriot, and a great professional.”
In 1999 Mr. Barsegov founded and since led the Armenian Institute of International Law and Political Science under the aegis of the Union of Armenians of Russia (www. sarinfo.org).
Under his leadership, the institute has since published two major Russian-language volumes on the Genocide: The Armenian Genocide: A Crime under International Law (2000) and the three-part The Armenian Genocide: Turkey’s Culpability and Responsibilities of the International Community (published between 2002 and 2005).
At the time of his death, Mr. Barsegov was working on a book on the history of Armenia’s international relations.
In recognition of his accomplishments, Mr. Barsegov was awarded Nagorno-Karabakh’s Order of St. Mesrop Mashtots and Armenia’s Mkhitar Gosh medal (both in 2000), elected a member of Armenia’s National Academy of Sciences in 2005, and received a special presidential prize from President Serge Sargsian earlier this year in recognition of Mr. Barsegov efforts for Genocide affirmation.
Just last month, in a letter of appreciation to President Sargsian, Mr. Barsegov asked to donate funds from that latter prize, totaling $10,000, to the Armenia Fund’s program supporting the families of Artsakh freedom fighters killed or wounded in combat.
According to the Union of Armenians of Russia, a wake and burial arrangements for Mr. Barsegov took place in Moscow on August 9. Mr. Barsegov is survived by his son Georgi Barsegov, who is a senior counselor with the Russian Foreign Ministry.
— Prepared by Emil Sanamyan drawing on materials made available by the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia and the Union of Armenians of Russia.