Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
The Helsinki Accords recognized the post–World War II European border arrangements as inviolable, subject to change only by peaceful means and by agreement, and the signers agreed to respect the human rights and civic freedoms of their citizens, as well as to undertake various forms of international cooperation. Although the nonbinding accords did not have treaty status, they were the first international agreement signed by the Soviet Union to mention the rights of free speech and travel. The human-rights provisions had a significant role in galvanizing Soviet and other Eastern European dissidents in the late 1970s, who organized committees to monitor compliance with the Helsinki Accords. Subsequent conferences have been held in various European cities. At the 1990 Paris summit, leaders of the member nations signed a declaration respecting the territorial integrity of Europe, an act that signaled the end of the cold war; limitations were also placed on the size of conventional forces in Europe. An additional agreement in 1992 and a revised treaty in 1999 (still unratified) placed further limitations on conventional forces.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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