The Helsinki Effect: International Norms, Human Rights, and the Demise of Communism / Edition 1

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Overview

Human rights norms do matter. Those established by the Helsinki Final Act contributed directly to the demise of communism in the former East bloc, contends Daniel Thomas. This book counters those skeptics who doubt that such international norms substantially affect domestic political change, while explaining why, when, and how they matter most. Thomas argues that the Final Act, signed in 1975, transformed the agenda of East-West relations and provided a common platform around which opposition forces could mobilize. Without downplaying other factors, Thomas shows that the norms established at Helsinki undermined the viability of one-party Communist rule and thereby contributed significantly to the largely peaceful and democratic changes of 1989, as well as the end of the Cold War. Drawing on both governmental and nongovernmental sources, he offers a powerful Constructivist alternative to Realist theory's failure to anticipate or explain these crucial events.

This study will fundamentally influence ongoing debates about the politics of international institutions, the socialization of states, the spread of democracy, and, not least, about the balance of factors that felled the Iron Curtain. It casts new light on Solidarity, Charter 77, and other democratic movements in Eastern Europe, the sources of Gorbachev's reforms, the evolution of the European Union, U.S. foreign policy, and East-West relations in the final decades of the Cold War. The Helsinki Effect will be essential reading for scholars and students of international relations, international law, European politics, human rights, and social movements.

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Editorial Reviews

Slavic Review - Patrick O'Neil
Thomas's work is valuable for a number of reasons. First, it serves as an excellent analysis of the emergence of the Helsinki process and its interpretation in the west and east. In addition, Thomas reminds us of the ways in which this language became an important part of the dissident movement and the emergence of civil society across the Soviet bloc. Finally, Thomas uses this discussion to challenge traditional thinking on international relations and the role of ideas, seeking to apply these lessons more broadly to the field.
From the Publisher

"This engaging book argues that human rights norms mattered more than geo-political power or economics in ending the Cold War."--Foreign Affairs

"Thomas's work is valuable for a number of reasons. First, it serves as an excellent analysis of the emergence of the Helsinki process and its interpretation in the west and east. In addition, Thomas reminds us of the ways in which this language became an important part of the dissident movement and the emergence of civil society across the Soviet bloc. Finally, Thomas uses this discussion to challenge traditional thinking on international relations and the role of ideas, seeking to apply these lessons more broadly to the field."--Patrick O'Neil, Slavic Review

Foreign Affairs
This engaging book argues that human rights norms mattered more than geo-political power or economics in ending the Cold War.
Slavic Review
Thomas's work is valuable for a number of reasons. First, it serves as an excellent analysis of the emergence of the Helsinki process and its interpretation in the west and east. In addition, Thomas reminds us of the ways in which this language became an important part of the dissident movement and the emergence of civil society across the Soviet bloc. Finally, Thomas uses this discussion to challenge traditional thinking on international relations and the role of ideas, seeking to apply these lessons more broadly to the field.
— Patrick O'Neil
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691048598
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 7/16/2001
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 7.10 (w) x 7.10 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Table of Contents


The International Politics of Human Rights 3
THE EVOLUTION OF NORMS 25
Chapter One: The Emergence of Human Rights Norms in East-West Relations 27
Chapter Two: Negotiating Human Rights in the Helsinki Final Act 55
THE FRAMING OF NORMS 89
Chapter Three: Framing "Helsinki" at Home: Social Movements against the Communist Party-state 91
Chapter Four: Framing "Helsinki" Abroad: Transnational Networks and U.S . Policy 121
THE EFFECT OF NORMS 157
Chapter Five: Mobilization: The Expansion of Human Rights Movements 159
Chapter Six: Backlash: Communism's Response to Human Rights 195
Chapter Seven: Socialization: Human Rights and the Dismantling of Communist Rule 220
Conclusions 253
The Helsinki Effect 257
Appendix: Interviews 289
Index 295
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