Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


David Carliner

First Page



A casualty, sorely if not fatally wounded, of the Soviet armed intervention in Afghanistan is the once widely-touted Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe concluded in Helsinki on August 1, 1975. The Conference was originally proposed by the Soviet Union in the 1950's in order to promote its perceived security interest in Europe and to legitimize its territorial boundaries in Eastern Europe. Though initially opposed to the idea, the United States finally supported it in 1972 as a means of promoting the "security that would come from an expansion of cooperation between East and West in a wide range of areas including economic, humanitarian, educational and cultural.'

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger described the Final Act of the Helsinki Conference as "providing the indispensable, political and legal basis for pursuing the issue of human rights in East-West relations." The Helsinki achievement, claimed the Department of State Counselor in 1978, "was to fold human rights concerns into the developing fabric of East-West detente."

The Final Act is comprised by three areas of agreement, commonly referred to as "Baskets," dealing with questions relating to security in Europe, cooperation in the fields of economics, science and technology, and the environment, and cooperation in humanitarian and other fields. It is the third area which is the subject of this article with specific emphasis on United States compliance with the Act prior to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.