Helsinki Accords

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The Helsinki Accords were adopted when thirty-five representatives from thirty-five nations met in Helsinki, Finland, in 1975 to discuss the security and cooperation in Europe. The Accords created the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The final act of the conference is known as the Helsinki Accords.

In the immediate aftermath of World War II, no peace treaty had ever been negotiated or signed. This period became known as the Cold War. The United Nations Charter, which had attempted to institutionalize the Big Three alliance against Hitler, was proven to have failed to maintain its stated objective of world peace by the 1948 Berlin Airlift Crisis, the 1949 Chinese Revolution, and the 1950 Korean War. The 1975 Helsinki Accords were the closest thing to a post-1945 peace treaty - 30 years after the end of World War II - marking defined borders within Europe.

The European Convention of Human Rights, implemented in 1953, led later to the 1975 Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. This document guaranteed the postwar borders of European states, the peaceful settlement of disputes, and respect for human rights. It regulated the principles of economic, scientific, and technological cooperation and provided for the exchange of printed, film, and televised information.

The Helsinki Accords were used by human rights activists and the Reagan Administration to pressure the Soviet Union to relax some of its totalitarianism, and to allow the escape of Soviet Jews. Mikhail Gorbachev finally unleashed "glasnost" and "perestroika" that energized human rights activists and led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact, 1989–91.