DOI: https://doi.org/10.21847/1728-9343.2020.2(166).199291

Human rights dimension in Helsinki 1975: Canadian concern the situation in the Soviet Union

Ruslan Siromskyi

Abstract


During the 1960s and 1970s, Western countries, including Canada, became increasingly aware of and responded to human rights abuses abroad. The ideological, military and economic Cold War with the Soviet Union has intensified Ottawa’s focus on human rights abuses in the country. For many Canadian observers, the communist system inherently repressed a number of human rights, including the freedoms of religion, movement, and property ownership. This concern was manifested during the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE). The Final Act of the CSCE was signed at Helsinki on August 1, 1975 by the heads of government of the states of Europe and of Canada and the United States. Helsinki Final Act contained far-reaching agreements on political borders, trade, and human rights norms, has often been described as the “high point of détente”. It is intended to establish the basis for the development of future relations between their countries and peoples. Among other the participants promised to respect fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief. Also pledges were given to make it easier for families to unite across borders and visit one another. However, Canadian Government made less likely to press human rights concerns than might have been expected. Ottawa often felt that more could be gained in its relationship with the Soviet Union by overlooking human rights violations. Such an approach was not uniformly supported in Parliament or in nongovernmental circles, which led to ongoing negotiations about the proper place of human rights concerns in Soviet-Canadian relations throughout this period. Despite uneven attention by Canadian Government, the growing prominence of human rights issues helped to ensure their enduring salience in the years that followed.

Keywords


Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe; Canada; Soviet Union; Ukrainian Canadians; human rights violations

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References


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