Would You Believe…The Helsinki Accords Changed the World?

By Peter L.W. Osnos with Holly Cartner

Would You Believe. . . When the Helsinki Accords were signed on August 1, 1975, the likelihood they would have a profound and lasting impact on the world were very small. Which is why a book about them after a half century is both surprisingly topical and well worth reading for anyone with an interest in modern history.

The thirty-five signatories were the nations of Europe, the United States and Canada at was formally known as the Conference of Security and Cooperation in Europe. The Final Act of CSCE contained detailed provisions on respect for human rights and set country borders that essentially held until Russia invaded Ukraine in February, 2022.

Only 15 years after the summit signing, the Soviet Union imploded and its Eastern European satellites broke with Communism and the broad range of human rights issues –civil, social, economic, and political – were a major factor in this historic turning point.

Peter L.W. Osnos’ expertise on the history of the accords is vast, as a journalist and publisher. His narrative writing skill is widely recognized. Holly Cartner provides a vivid account of how a small organization called Helsinki Watch became Human Rights Watch, the most important global NGO in its field.