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Human Rights Activism and the End of the Cold War
A Transnational History of the Helsinki Network

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Part of Human Rights in History

  • Date Published: May 2011
  • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • format: Adobe eBook Reader
  • isbn: 9781139065542

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About the Authors
  • Two of the most pressing questions facing international historians today are how and why the Cold War ended. Human Rights Activism and the End of the Cold War explores how, in the aftermath of the signing of the Helsinki Final Act in 1975, a transnational network of activists committed to human rights in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe made the topic a central element in East-West diplomacy. As a result, human rights eventually became an important element of Cold War diplomacy and a central component of détente. Sarah B. Snyder demonstrates how this network influenced both Western and Eastern governments to pursue policies that fostered the rise of organized dissent in Eastern Europe, freedom of movement for East Germans, and improved human rights practices in the Soviet Union – all factors in the end of the Cold War.

    • Highlights the role of human rights activism in the end of the Cold War
    • Demonstrates the existence and influence of a transnational network devoted to the implementation of the Helsinki Final Act
    • Revises existing accounts of the late Cold War
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    • Winner of the 2012 Stuart L. Bernath Book Prize, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations

    Reviews & endorsements

    “Human Rights Activism and the End of the Cold War is innovative conceptually and methodologically and makes an extremely important contribution to the study of international affairs during the 1970s and 1980s, including the ending of the Cold War.” – Akira Iriye, Harvard University

    “An important and engaging contribution to the growing literature on ‘the Helsinki effect’ – how non-binding agreements may in effect punch above their weight by effecting powerful changes to the contours of international politics." – Elizabeth Borgwardt, author of A New Deal for the World: America’s Vision for Human Rights, 1941–1946

    "This well-written, effectively argued study is a welcome addition to the growing literature on the end of the Cold War. Highly recommended." -Choice

    "...convincingly proves the impact and influence of the mushrooming civil society in the CSCE area on the breathtaking developments concerning human rights in the former Soviet bloc and its role in ending the Cold War. This publication is a real achievement and has to be warmly welcomed as a valuable addition to the still growing literature on the topic. The author has conducted very detailed research work, resulting in an impressive and easily readable book." -- Arie Bloed, Secuirty and Human Rights

    "...meticulously researched, intelligently organized, and interestingly written book..." -Andrejs Plakans, The Russian Review

    "Sarah B. Snyder brings together two debates—how to understand the rise of human rights movements and the fall of the Soviet empire—with a fresh look at the way human rights activism, unexpectedly unleashed by the inauspicious Helsinki Accords of 1975, hastened the collapse of the Soviet bloc." -Max Paul Friedman, American Historical Review

    "Written with skill and meticulously researched, this important book brings new evidence to bear on the issue by precisely charting how the transnational advocacy networks that sprung up in the wake of the Helsinki Final Act changed political discourse in the Soviet Union." -Alex J. Bellamy, The Journal of American History

    "Sarah Snyder makes an important contribution to the international history of the cold war by asserting that human rights played an integral role in ending the global conflict. -Andrew J. Falk, Journal of Transatlantic Studies

    "...all signs are present in this first book to suggest that Snyder’s second one will be even better." -Jeffrey Kahn, Slavic Review

    "Sarah Snyder’s study explores one of the best-known instances of human rights discourse and activism, the Helsinki process that culminated in the 1975 Helsinki Final Act..." -Mary Nolan, The Journal of Modern History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2011
    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9781139065542
    • contains: 10 b/w illus.
    • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • Table of Contents

    1. Bridging the East-West divide: the Helsinki Final Act negotiations
    2. 'A sort of lifeline': the Helsinki Commission
    3. Even in a Yakutian village: Helsinki monitoring in Moscow and beyond
    4. Follow-up at Belgrade: the United States transforms the Helsinki process
    5. Helsinki watch, the IHF, and the transnational campaign for human rights in Eastern Europe
    6. Human rights in East-West diplomacy
    7. 'A debate in the fox den about raising chickens': the Moscow conference proposal
    8. 'Perhaps without you, our revolution would not be'

  • Author

    Sarah B. Snyder, University College London
    Sarah B. Snyder is a Lecturer in International History at University College London. She has published a number of scholarly articles in journals such as Cold War History, Diplomacy and Statecraft, the Journal of Transatlantic Studies and the Journal of American Studies, as well as multiple book chapters. Dr Snyder specializes in transnational, international and diplomatic history.


    • Winner of the 2012 Stuart L. Bernath Book Prize, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations
    • Winner of the 2012 Myrna Bernath Book Award, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations

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