Signing the Final Act (Helsinki Accords) of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) (August 1, 1975)
Representatives from all the European states (with the exception of Albania), Canada, and the U.S. participated in the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE). First, a conference of foreign ministers was held in Helsinki (July 3-7, 1973). Then, experts in Geneva spent almost two years – from September 18, 1973, to July 21, 1975 – formulating the Final Act (Helsinki Accords) of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. Afterwards, state and government leaders from all 35 participating countries met in Helsinki (July 30, 1975, to August 1, 1975) to sign the Final Act. For the Soviet Union, it was particularly important that the accords emphasized the inviolability of borders, territorial integrity, and non-involvement in domestic matters. For the Western states, on the other hand, it was important that the Final Act provided for the protection of human rights and basic freedoms, and allowed them to issue, under the point, “Cooperation in humanitarian and other areas,” a declaration stating their intention to facilitate human contact and “to improve the distribution of information, access to information, and the exchange of it.” In the photograph below (from left to right), Helmut Schmidt, Erich Honecker, and Gerald Ford sign the Final Act of the CSCE.