Conduct Speaks Louder than Words

      The Helsinki Accords mandate that participating nations “will respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief, for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion.” They also hold that “participating States will recognize and respect the freedom of the individual to profess and practice, alone or in community with others, religion or belief acting in accordance with the dictates of his own conscience.”

      The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, established to bring about international compliance to the Accords, today has more than 50 members. In the United States, CSCE was established by Congress to ensure other nations are in compliance with the Accords.

      Obviously, the degree to which each member nation enforces such rights is an index of the quality of its democracy. Although Germany and other European nations under the spotlight signed the Helsinki Accords, the many witnesses at the Washington hearing and the Warsaw conference who described governmental disregard for those promises and for other human rights treaties guaranteeing the fundamental right to religious freedom belie those countries’ commitment to such laudable ideals. Referring to such violations, Senator D’Amato put it succinctly: “Their conduct speaks louder than their words.”

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