George Bush photo

Proclamation 6462—Helsinki Human Rights Day, 1992

July 28, 1992

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

Less than two decades ago, on August 1, 1975, the United States and Canada joined 33 European nations in adopting the Helsinki Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE). Affirming the "close link between peace and security in Europe and in the world as a whole," signatories to the declaration agreed to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, "including freedom of thought, conscience, religion, or belief, for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion." Participating states recognized respect for human rights as "an essential factor" for the attainment of peace, justice, and cooperation among nations and agreed to settle disputes among themselves peacefully and on the basis of international law. This year the CSCE Summit, the first held in Helsinki since 1975, offered an historic setting to renew United States support for a strong Euro-Atlantic partnership based on shared goals and values.

Since its inception, the CSCE has championed human rights and democratic values. Originally set forth at Helsinki in 1975, these standards have been strengthened and reaffirmed by the Copenhagen, Geneva, and Moscow CSCE documents and by the 1990 Charter of Paris for a New Europe, through which members added to existing CSCE principles new and sweeping commitments to political pluralism and the rule of law. The Charter of Paris also established new CSCE institutions, such as the Conflict Prevention Center in Vienna, to strengthen the ability of the Conference to promote the peaceful resolution of disputes and the development of stable, democratic governments.

During the past two years, the Conference has evolved further to assist in the task of managing the dramatic changes that have been brought about in the CSCE community by the collapse of communism and the end of the Cold War. In addition to expanding its activities and institutions, as well as its mechanisms for fostering international dialogue and cooperation, the CSCE has welcomed new members from among the emerging states of Central and Eastern Europe and the 12 states that replaced the Soviet Union. We welcome these new CSCE participants and the commitment to human rights that their membership signifies.

While great advances have been made overall in promoting human rights, especially since the democratic revolutions that swept Europe in 1989, today some states are making only minimal progress while others are sliding backward into the mire of ethnic conflicts. Thus, this year's Helsinki Summit emphasized that political stability and lasting freedom can be based only on genuine respect for human rights, which forms the basis of the CSCE concept of international security and cooperation. At Helsinki, participating states broke new ground in enhancing the CSCE's ability to promote human rights, to manage change, and to prevent conflicts. In addition to establishing the office of a CSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, which will assist in the investigation and prevention of conflicts arising from ethnic or minority tensions, the 1992 Helsinki document provides for an expanded Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights in Warsaw. To promote the nonviolent resolution of disputes, the document also envisages formal peacekeeping operations in support of political solutions, either by CSCE countries directly or with the support of other international organizations such as NATO and the Western European Union (WEU).

Today the Euro-Atlantic community continues to be challenged by the legacy of the Cold War. The peoples of Europe's emerging states face many difficulties as they strive to overcome deeply rooted political and economic problems imposed by decades of Soviet repression and communist rule. Yet, during this period of great change, the principles set forth in the 1975 Helsinki Final Act and reaffirmed at follow-on meetings of the CSCE continue to offer a steady guide to peaceful, cooperative relations among states and to the just and democratic conduct of governments.

In recognition of the contributions of the CSCE toward the expansion of human rights and toward the development of a strong Euro-Atlantic partnership for freedom, the Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 310, has designated August 1, 1992, as "Helsinki Human Rights Day" and has 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, 1992, as Helsinki Human Rights Day and reaffirm the United States commitment to upholding human dignity and freedom -- principles that are enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act. As we Americans observe this day with appropriate programs and activities, let us remember all those courageous individuals and groups of individuals who have made tremendous sacrifices to secure the freedoms that we enjoy. The God-given and inalienable rights affirmed in our Declaration of Independence and guaranteed by our Constitution are rights that many people in the world still struggle to obtain. Building on the foundation that was laid at Helsinki 17 years ago and that was fortified there last month, let us recommit ourselves to making peace and liberty the common heritage of all.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of July, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and seventeenth.

Signature of George Bush


George Bush, Proclamation 6462—Helsinki Human Rights Day, 1992 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Simple Search of Our Archives