Human Rights Activism and the End of the Cold War: A Transnational History of the Helsinki Network
Sarah B. Snyder explores how, in the aftermath of the signing of the Helsinki Final Act, a transnational network of activists committed to human rights in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe made the topic a central element in East-West diplomacy.
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Two of the most pressing questions facing international historians today are how and why the Cold War ended. In Human Rights Activism and the End of the Cold War,Sarah B. Snyder explores how, in the aftermath of the signing of the Helsinki Final Act in 1975, a transnational network of activists committed to human rights in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe made the topic a central element in East-West diplomacy. As a result, human rights eventually became an important element of Cold War diplomacy and a central component of détente. Snyder demonstrates how this network influenced both Western and Eastern governments to pursue policies that fostered the rise of organized dissent in Eastern Europe, freedom of movement for East Germans and improved human rights practices in the Soviet Union – all factors in the end of the Cold War.
Joining Snyder on the panel is Svetlana Savranskaya, research fellow at The George Washington University's National Security Archive and Ambassador Richard Schifter, United States lawyer and former assistant secretary of state for human rights and humanitarian affairs.
Samuel Wells, Wilson Center senior scholar will chair this event.
Cold War International History Project
The Cold War International History Project supports the full and prompt release of historical materials by governments on all sides of the Cold War. Through an award winning Digital Archive, the Project allows scholars, journalists, students, and the interested public to reassess the Cold War and its many contemporary legacies. It is part of the Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program. Read more
History and Public Policy Program
The History and Public Policy Program makes public the primary source record of 20th and 21st century international history from repositories around the world, facilitates scholarship based on those records, and uses these materials to provide context for classroom, public, and policy debates on global affairs. Read more
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