Helsinki Accords


The Helsinki Accords was an agreement between the United States, the Soviet Union and 33 other nations. It recognized the borders of Europe while guaranteeing civil rights to citizens everywhere.

Thirty-five nations signed the Helsinki Accords. The accords recognized the borders of Europe, as they had been at the end of World War II, thus recognizing Soviet domination of the Baltic States(Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania). All nations, however, agreed to promote personal liberties in their own countries.
The Helsinki Accords seemed to provide both the West and the Soviet Union what each had been seeking. One of the primary objectives of Soviet foreign policy from the end of World War II had been to obtain international recognition of the post-war borders, including the Soviet annexation of the Baltic States. The West, on the other hand, had over the preceding years become concerned about Soviet human rights violations, including the suppression of dissidents and the right of Soviet Jews to emigrate. The Soviets claimed that those issues were internal issues. Under the Helsinki Accords, the Soviets received the recognition that they desired, while they, in turn, agreed to respect human rights and acknowledge that the issue of human rights was an international concern. Soon, what became known as Helsinki Watch Groups were established throughout the Soviet Union. They became beacons that kept opposition alive in the Soviet Union.

Within 16 years, the Baltics would become independent of the Soviet Union, and full human rights would be instituted in a new Russian Federation.