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

September 13, 2011 // 4:00pm5:30pm
Event Co-sponsors: 
History and Public Policy Program

Two of the most pressing questions facing international historians today are how and why the Cold War ended. In Human Rights Activism and the End of the Cold War, Sarah B. Snyder 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. 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.

Joining Snyder on the panel is Svetlana Savranskaya, research fellow at The George Washington University's National Security Archive and Ambassador Richard Schifter, United States lawyer and former assistant secretary of state for human rights and humanitarian affairs.

Samuel Wells, Wilson Center senior scholar will chair this event.

5th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center
Event Speakers List: 
  • Lecturer in International History, University College London
  • Senior Fellow, National Security Archive, The George Washington University
  • Chairman of the Board of the American Jewish International Relations Institute
Back to top

Upcoming Events

From Free Europe to Free Poland: Free Europe Committee in the Cold War

September 05, 2014 // 9:00amSeptember 06, 2014 // 6:00pm

Wilson Center Photo Gallery

Browse or share photos from the Wilson Center’s events.

To Attend an Event

Unless otherwise noted:

Meetings listed on this page are free and open to the public. Reservations are not required unless otherwise noted. All meetings take place at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC. Please see map and directions. Allow time for routine security procedures. A photo ID is required for entry.

To confirm time and place, contact Maria-Stella Gatzoulis on the day of the event: tel. (202) 691-4188. Check this page for the latest updates and notices.

Experts & Staff