Proclamation 5686 -- Helsinki Human Rights Day, 1987
July 31, 1987
the President of the United States of
years ago, the United States, Canada, and 33 European
countries signed the Helsinki Final Act of the Conference on Security and
Cooperation in Europe. These nations thereby committed themselves to
observe important standards of international conduct and to respect basic human
rights and fundamental freedoms at home. They also pledged themselves to pursue
practical steps to reduce the barriers by which the Soviet Union has divided Europe into East and West,
denying the nations of Eastern Europe the right of
self-determination and limiting contact between peoples.
Helsinki Final Act embodies its signatories' agreement that freedom and human
rights are the best guarantors of peace. It mandated that these freedoms,
routinely enjoyed by the peoples of the West, be recognized and respected as
well in the Soviet
After more than a decade, though there have been some limited gains, that
mandate has not been fulfilled.
and the Soviet-dominated governments of Eastern Europe have systematically
violated many of their most fundamental Helsinki pledges. Freedoms of
thought, conscience, religion, and belief are constrained. Loved ones,
families, and friends are kept apart. The flow of ideas and information is
restricted. The right of the individual to depart from and return to his own
country is denied. Helsinki monitors and other
prisoners of conscience continue to languish in prisons, labor camps,
psychiatric hospitals, and internal exile, merely for expressing their
political and religious beliefs. In Perm Camp 36-1, the most brutal of the
labor camps in the Gulag, ten political prisoners -- three of whom were
Helsinki monitors -- have died in the last 3 years. Harsh treatment and lack of
medical care threaten the lives of those remaining in the camp.
and other violations have exacted a fearsome and tragic human cost, and they
reflect a disregard for the fundamental principle that in order for any of a
nation's international agreements to be respected, all must be observed. The
continuing violations of Helsinki obligations by the Soviet Union and the
Soviet-dominated countries of Eastern Europe place in doubt those
nations' faithful observance of their international obligations in every
third Follow-up Meeting of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe has been underway in Vienna since November 1986.
The primary aim of the United States and its NATO Allies in Vienna is to secure compliance
by the East with the commitments made at Helsinki, so that citizens in
all the signatory states can enjoy the fundamental freedoms agreed to in the
Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 151, has designated August
as ``Helsinki Human Rights Day'' and has authorized and requested the President
to issue a proclamation in its observance.
Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of
America, do hereby proclaim August
as Helsinki Human Rights Day and reaffirm the American commitment to universal
observance of the values enshrined in the Final Act. These values are
fundamental to our way of life and a source of inspiration to peoples around
the world. In renewing our dedication with appropriate programs, ceremonies,
and activities, let us call upon all signatories of the Final Act to match
deeds with words and to respect in full its solemn principles and provisions.
Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of July, in
the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-seven, and of the Independence of the United States of
America the two hundred and twelfth.
[Filed with the Office
of the Federal Register, , August 3, 1987]
Note: The proclamation
was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on August 1.