Jozef Goldblat was born on 7 January 1923 in Lwow, Poland (now Lviv, Ukraine), and died in Geneva on 29 September 2012.
In 1938, he traveled and studied in England. During World War II, he lost his parents and two brothers in the concentration camps. He managed to fly to the USSR : he spent most of the war years of exile in Fergana, a city in far eastern Uzbekistan.
He pursued medical studies at the University of Lviv during 1939-1941. He attended a teacher training college near Moscow during 1944-1945, achieving a teaching certificate. After the end of the war, he studied linguistics at the University of Moscow, with degrees awarded in 1948 and 1949. He went on to study economics at the University of Warsaw, with a degree awarded in 1954. Subsequently, he earned further degrees at the University of Warsaw, in both international relations and law. In addition to his native Polish, goldblat was to come thoroughly fluent in Russian, English, French, Swedish, Spanish, and to a considerable extent also in Ukrainian and German.
He began his career of service for the Government of Poland in 1946 as an Officer for its Foreign Trade Department, attached until 1951 to the Polish Embassady in Moscow, then in Warsaw for a time as an Editor with PAP, the Polish Press Agency.
Following the Korean War of 1950-1953, he represented Poland as an Inspector on the Neutral Nations Supervisory commission for Korea. He subsequently became Advisor on Disarmament to the Foreign Minister, and delegate to the United Nations General Assembly in New York. And following the First Indochina War of 1946-1954, he represented Poland on the International commission for Supervision and Control for Viet Nam, for a time as the head of its delegation. At one point, he also served as the First Political Officer of the Disarmament Division of the United Nations Secretariat.
For a number of years he was head of the Polish delegation to the UN-affiliated Committee on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva.
In September 1967, his Polish diplomatic career came to an end owing to the Government’s campaign of that time to purge the country of Jews. He escaped from his country to Switzerland, with the assistance of a Swiss interpreter, his future wife. I led in 1969 to the launching of a career of two decades with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), where as its Director of Arms Control and Disarmament he became a pillar of that Institute’s research staff. Moreover, his continuing devotion to the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones has kept that valuable notion alive in the intergovernmental arena.
During his SIPRI and subsequent years, he served as a Consultant, Advisor, or in other capacity to various agencies and organizations, among them especially to: the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) in Geneva, the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), including as Associate Editor of its Bulletin of Peace Proposals renamed Security Dialogue; the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) in Geneva; the Geneva International Peace Research Institute of (GIPRI), as a Board member and Vice president; the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, as a Research Fellow; and to Swiss delegations in international bodies.
Among numerous other publications of note, Goldblat was author of the definitive Arms Control: a Guide to Negotiations and Agreements (1994; 2nd edn, 2002, the latter published jointly by SIPRI and PRIO), these two successive volumes in turn actually having been expanded revisions of two earlier works published in 1978 and 1982. This densely packed monograph is actually two books in one: the first a brilliant analysis of the tortured post-World War II history on the subject, including an especially insightful examination of the role of the United Nations; and the second (in the most recent edition on an accompanying CD-ROM) a presentation of the substantive portions of the well over 100 most relevant international agreements (treaties, protocols, conventions) negotiated between 1868 and 2002.
He received at least five high honors:
- By the NGO Committee on Disarmament in New York in 1984 with its ‘Josephine Pomerance Award’, in recongnition of scholarship in the field of arms control and disarmament;
- By the Republic of Poland in 2006 with its ‘Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit’, for contribution to the cause of international peace;
- By the Geneva Centre for Security Policy in 2006 with its ‘Security Policy Award’, for achievement in the field of international and human security;
- By the Italian Republic in 2007 with its ‘Knight of the Order of Merit’, for the promotion of international peace and security through disarmament, arms reduction and no-proliferation;
- And by the Republic of Uzbekistan in 2011 with its “Memorable Insignia’ for active fruitful activity to develop cooperation in disarmament research with the Republic of Uzbekistan.
About his personal life, he married Claire Alder in 1969 and he had two sons.