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“ProSlo” Hits the Lecture Circuit in South Caucasus

August 22, 2012

Pro Slo's Trip
Pro Slo's Trip
Pro Solo's Trip
Pro Slo's Trip

Student Mike Pehlevanian and Professor Guzelian Also Participate

Professor Bill Slomanson had a busy end of summer, traveling to several countries in the South Caucasus to deliver lectures in Georgia and Armenia. Thanks to Professor Chris Guzelian, Professors Slomanson and Guzelian and 3L Mike Pehlevanian met with national dignitaries in the Armenian-held Nagorno Karabakh enclave inside Azerbaijan.

The first of Professor Slomanson’s two presentations on the topic of “Remedial Secession in the South Caucasus” was delivered on August 2 at the Free Tbilisi University, located in Tbilisi which is Georgia’s capital.   The YouTube version of that speech is available at: On August 6, Professor Slomanson then spoke at the American University Armenia in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia.

The subjects of his talks were the three South Caucasus unilateral secessions, announced by the Georgian provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and Nagorno Karabakh (NK). The former were central features of the 2008 Georgia-Russia war. The latter secession is at the heart of a frozen but simmering conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. NK lies wholly within Azerbaijan. According to Professor Slomanson, this powder keg has the potential to destabilize the region, especially if the Azeri sniping and Israeli drones at the front lines of this currently low-intensity conflict causes it to boil over into a more heated clash. An informative website that provides an intriguing snapshot of the conflict as it presently stands is available at .    

“The highlight of this trip was what would have been an otherwise lengthy journey—from Yerevan to the former Soviet oblast Nagorno Karabakh—with Professor Chris Guzelian and 3L Michael Pehlevanian,” said Professor Slomanson. “Sharing this time with two very knowledgeable Armenians yielded unparalleled insights into the richness of Armenia’s history, culture, beauty and the ugliness of this looming conflict.”

Professor Slomanson is a Visiting Professor on the Pristina University faculty in Kosovo, and is aware of the intricacies of life in conflict and former conflict zones. As with Kosovo, prior to its UN administration, various UN Security Council and US congressional resolutions did little to control these geopolitical hotspots.

Professor Guzelian’s reaction to this journey was equally enthusiastic:  “I am so pleased that my colleague Bill Slomanson, a renowned expert in international law related to secession, has taken such interest in the autonomous region of Nagorno-Karabakh (“Artsakh” in Armenian) and its case for secession from Azerbaijan. I am also especially grateful to TJSL student Michael Pehlevanian for his exceptional translation skills and legal reasoning during our visit.”

“Thanks to American University of Armenia and dedicated representatives of Artsakh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we were received by the best set of hosts imaginable, including Artsakh’s Prime Minister and its Speaker of the Parliament. We learned much about Artsakh’s current nation-building dynamics. Perhaps just as importantly, Professor Slomanson’s keen legal acumen was on impressive and instructive display for our hosts. He confirmed their sentiment that Artsakh does indeed have one of the best cases worldwide for lawful secession. However, Professor Slomanson stressed to our eagerly attentive hosts that Artsakh must adopt a more nuanced understanding of international law to provide objectively persuasive support for legal secession.” 
After several days of state visits in NK, Professor Slomanson was asked to give another talk—this time, on the general principles of International Law. Instead, he explains, “I declined because of the intensity of my just under two week visit to the South Caucasus. It required six days of travel just to get to and then move between the three capitals, visit various government and military installations, etc. Now that I’m over thirty, I wisely asked Mike to take this assignment in my place. Given his fabulous performance in my International Law class, I knew that he would sparkle in that role. Needless to say, he made TJSL proud!”

The Rector of Nagorno Karabakh’s Stepanakert University has invited TJSL to work with him to staff a major international conference there in 2013. Anyone interested in attending should check with Professors Guzelian or Slomanson, or Michael Pehlevanian.

Read the American University of Armenia’s Story about Professor Slomanson’s Visit