The Helsinki Final Act: From Dissidents to Election Observation
The Helsinki Final Act, signed in August 1975, changed Cold War Europe. Its so-called third basket on human rights and freedoms proved important to dissidents in Eastern Europe and in the Soviet Union. Human rights activists set up Helsinki monitor groups to follow the progress of the Soviets and the regimes in East Europe in implementing the human rights stipulations in the Final Act. After the fall of the Iron Curtain, mechanisms set up by the Act, specifically the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, took on a new role and became the international standard for elections monitoring.