Proclamation 5843 -- Helsinki Human Rights Day, 1988
August 1, 1988
the President of the United States of
years ago, 33 European states, the United States, and Canada signed the Helsinki
Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. In so doing, we and
the other signatories undertook a sacred commitment to the principles of
freedom, self-determination, and human dignity. The Helsinki Final Act
acknowledged the fundamental interrelationship of human rights, economic
relations, and security considerations in the overall conduct of affairs within
and among states. The Final Act recognized that there can be no true
international security without respect for basic political and civil rights;
that economic ties can contribute to security, but only if based upon open
relations among peoples; and that security and confidence can also be improved
through the free exchange of information.
historic meeting in Helsinki has spawned a dynamic
process that we in the United States regard as one of the
most important developments in East-West relations in the post-World War II
period. The work begun at Helsinki to eliminate the
barriers that divide East and West has been carried on in three follow-up
meetings during the intervening years. At present we are working with the
delegations from all the signatory states in Vienna to advance our
cherished objectives of freedom, openness, and security.
progress has occurred in reducing the tensions between East and West, the
Soviet Union and other states of the East have not fully lived up to the
commitments undertaken at Helsinki. Respect for human rights in these countries
continues to fall far short of the standards set forth in the Final Act, as
well as in the document issued at the conclusion of the Madrid review conference in 1983.
Freedom of movement, conscience, and religion are still shackled by
unreasonable and arbitrary government controls. Individuals such as Ukrainian
Helsinki monitors Ivan Kandyba and Ivan Sokulsky and Lithuanian Catholic priest SigitasTamkevicius, whose only ``crime'' was to monitor the
Soviet Government's compliance with the Helsinki Final Act and speak out in
behalf of political and religious freedom, remain in Soviet labor camps. The
free flow of ideas and information from abroad and within Eastern Europe is still impeded.
few short weeks ago I stood in Finlandia Hall -- the
historic building in which the Helsinki Final Act was signed. I reiterated the
commitment of the American people to continue to work to bring down the
barriers that have so cruelly divided the European continent for 4 decades.
However, it bears reminding that those barriers were erected by the East, and
so much of the demolition work will necessarily fall to those states. We are
encouraged by recent hopeful pronouncements coming from the Soviet Union and its allies; we
await further concrete progress in the treatment of all individuals in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and positive steps in
the Vienna meeting to give those
is appropriate that we mark this 13th anniversary of the signing of the Final
Act by setting aside a special day to reflect upon and to renew our dedication
to the values of human dignity and freedom embodied in that farsighted
document. On this occasion, we call upon all signatories of the Final Act to
honor in full its solemn principles. Let us pledge to spare no effort in
striving toward this goal.
Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 338, 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.
Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of August, in the
year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-eight, and of the Independence of the United States of
America the two hundred and thirteenth.
[Filed with the Office
of the Federal Register, , August 1, 1988]