Noble Words, Hollow Promises

The participating states, reaffirming their commitment to peace, security and justice and the continuing development of friendly relations and cooperation ...

Those sweeping words and the many thousands that followed became enshrined in the 1975 Helsinki Final Act. The document, signed by 33 European nations, the U.S. and Canada, was an agreement to work together on common problems, from reuniting families to conducting research on permafrost, from forecasting earthquakes to forewarning about military maneuvers. Ten years later, the assessment of those noble pledges has soured. Said Secretary of State George Shultz at last week's commemorative session in the Finnish capital: "The most important promises of a decade ago have not been kept."

The Helsinki commitments covered a multitude of human endeavors, but...

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