My administration is deeply committed to the cause of human rights both here and abroad. As a means to promote respect for fundamental freedoms and the development of a more peaceful, stable world, the United States attaches great significance to the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. This document, signed in 1975 at Helsinki by the leaders of 33 European nations, Canada, and the United States, pledges its signers to work toward lowering barriers and improving cooperation between East and West. Each nation made solemn promises to take steps to improve the lives of its citizens. These obligations required some adjustments in the foreign and domestic policies of all 35 nations.
I am extremely pleased that the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe has taken the lead in assessing U.S. implementation and identifying areas where American performance can be improved. The Commission's report, "Fulfilling Our Promises: The United States and the Helsinki Final Act"—released on November 8—is the first comprehensive review by any CSCE signatory which takes into account criticism from other Helsinki states as well as domestic observers.
CSCE signatory states which suppress human rights cannot in good conscience justify their record of compliance. But I believe our record of implementation has been second to none, even among the other democracies among the 35 participating states. American political history is testimony to the firm foundation of civil liberties enshrined in our own Constitution with its Bill of Rights, long before Helsinki.
As this report points out, our work is never complete. Our own traditions, reinforced by the Helsinki Final Act, pledge us to strive constantly for improvement in both domestic, civil, and economic rights, and in the expanded cooperation with other participating states. This report should go far to persuade other CSCE governments that the United States is serious about its obligations under the Helsinki accords.
I also hope that it will stimulate other Helsinki countries to undertake similar public assessments of their performance. Implementation of the Final Act is critical to peace and security in Europe and for our own Nation. We cannot permit the Helsinki agreement to become meaningless words on parchment. We must bring it to life, and I believe the CSCE Commission has made a major contribution to that end.