Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


Matthew Nimetz

First Page



After five years of experience with the Helsinki Final Act, the thirty-five signatory countries are about to hold in Madrid a second follow-up conference to assess the record of implementation and consider what new steps might be taken to further the purposes of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, hereinafter CSCE. Now is a good time to take stock of where CSCE has been and where it is likely to go in the future.

The Helsinki process seeks to address the United States basic foreign policy dilemma: how can two competing and largely antagonistic systems co-exist in a manner that protects United States security and at the same time creates opportunities to increase areas of cooperation. The Final Act itself seeks to address the universal desire of all peoples for basic human rights and freedoms. For this reason, the United States does not conceive of the Helsinki process as a bloc-to-bloc confrontation, although we have no illusions that the problem of the East is at present our central consideration. By taking account of the various wishes and hopes of the signatory nations, the Helsinki process helps to keep open channels of communication on sensitive issues in a way which shows promise of encouraging the improvements the United States seeks. This process, however, can only be kept alive through our commitment to make it work and to use its potential continuously to attain our objectives.