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Proclamation 6163—Helsinki Human Rights Day, 1990

July 31, 1990

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

Fifteen years ago, the United States, Canada, and 33 European states joined in adopting the Helsinki Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE). The signing of the Helsinki Final Act established a framework for eliminating the barriers between East and West and advancing the goals of freedom, openness, and security in Europe.

The Helsinki accords recognized that upholding individual dignity and human rights is not only the duty of any legitimate government but also the key to economic prosperity and lasting peace among nations. The very word "Helsinki" served as an inspiration to countless dissidents throughout Eastern Europe, who formed monitoring groups to press their governments to live up to the commitments made at Helsinki.

The stirring advance of democracy in Central and Eastern Europe testify to the CSCE's effectiveness in advancing our goal of universal compliance with the human rights and humanitarian provisions of the Helsinki accords. The destruction of the Berlin Wall has dramatically illustrated the progress that has been made in promoting respect for human rights, building mutual confidence, reducing the risk of conflict, and enhancing the growth of democracy and openness.

As the physical and ideological barriers that have divided postwar Europe are dismantled, the vision of a Europe whole and free is now within our sight. However, continued violations of human rights in some countries provide a solemn reminder that we still have much work to do. Persecution of ethnic minorities, religious oppression, and restrictions on freedom of information and travel violate both the letter and spirit of the accords and hinder the CSCE process. We in the West will continue to condemn such human rights violations and press for respect for an adherence to the high standards envisioned at Helsinki.

The United States has provided support and leadership to the Helsinki process since its inception 15 years ago. As the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe assumes an ever larger role in the new Europe, the United States will continue to attach special importance to it and, as the North Atlantic Alliance recently agreed, to strengthen and institutionalize the CSCE as a forum to help build free societies and expand political dialogue in a more united Europe. Recently, the CSCE endorsed a U.S. proposal for enshrining free elections, political pluralism, and the rule of law among its principles. We also remain committed to the preservation and enhancement of the CSCE's transatlantic character. This fall, for example, the United States will host a meeting of CSCE foreign ministers -- the first CSCE meeting ever held in this country.

The Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 339, has designated August 1, 1990, as "Helsinki Human Rights Day" and has authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this day.

Now, Therefore, I, George Bush, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim August 1, 1990, as Helsinki Human Rights Day and reaffirm the United States' dedication to the principles of human dignity and freedom -- principles enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act. As we Americans observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities, let us call upon all signatories of the Final Act to fulfill their obligation to respect the rights and dignity of all their citizens.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set by hand this thirty-first day of July, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fifteenth.

Signature of George Bush


George Bush, Proclamation 6163—Helsinki Human Rights Day, 1990 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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