Ford’s Vision for Human Rights in Eastern Europe

Ford’s Vision for Human Rights in Eastern Europe

What is the historical significance of the Helsinki Accords?


6 - 12


Social Studies, U.S. History

In 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed the Helsinki Accords, a historic agreement between the Soviet Union and the United States and its European allies. The accords covered a range of issues, including military deployments, territorial disputes, economic concerns such as trade and human rights.

By supporting the Helsinki Accords, Ford helped champion human rights and improve the living standards for people throughout Eastern Europe. In his speech before the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe in 1975, Ford said, “We will spare no effort to ease tensions and to solve problems between us. But it is important that you recognize the deep devotion of the American people and their Government to human rights and fundamental freedoms and thus to the pledges that this Conference has made regarding the freer movement of people, ideas, information.”

Fast Fact

  • The seventh principle of the Helsinki Accords emphasized respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief.

Fast Fact

  • Thirty-five countries signed the Helsinki Accords in 1975.
  • The United States of America, Canada, and every country in Europe except Albania signed the Helsinki Accords in 1975. Albania became a signatory 16 years laters in September 1991.
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Last Updated

October 19, 2023

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Related Resources

Ford Foundation
National Geographic Channel