Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



Initial formal evaluation of the implementation of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe signed at Helsinki on August 1, 1975, [hereinafter Helsinki Accord] took place at a 35-nation conference in Belgrade during the period from October 4, 1977, to March 9, 1978. The Helsinki Accord, though not a treaty, sets forth various principles of governmental conduct concerning freedom of transnational movement. The Accord morally commits participating states to implement certain measures either domestically or with other states, to respect, promote, and encourage human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The Helsinki Accord is divided into three principal parts which are referred to as "baskets." Basket III, "Cooperation in Humanitarian and Other Fields," obligates signatories to facilitate freer movement on the basis of family ties, family reunification, proposed marriages, and personal or professional travel. Opportunities to visit family members located in foreign countries on a temporary or regular basis must be provided without distinction as to national origin or destination. Cases of urgency, such as serious illness or death, receive priority status. Requests to relocate in order to reunite families are to be dealt with in a "positive and humanitarian" spirit. Persons who are sick or elderly are to receive special attention. Receiving states agree to see that relocated individuals are afforded opportunities for education, medical assistance, and social security equal to those of citizens. Citizens of different signatories wishing to marry are to be allowed appropriate entry and exit documents." Married couples and their minor children may transfer their permanent residence to a state in which one spouse was normally domiciled. The participating states have also agreed to simplify procedures for exit and entry and to ease other security restrictions to promote travel for personal or professional reasons.