Impact of the CSCE

The CSCE had a direct impact on East-West relations and helped create a post-Cold War cooperative security regime that was no longer divided into three groups: West, East, and Neutral/Nonaligned.

Undermining communism

The CSCE had an impact on the security situation in Europe by undermining the legitimacy of the communist governments throughout Central and Eastern Europe, where governments signed agreements that created norms about human rights and openness, but where their actual behavior often fell far short of those principles.

Human rights

The CSCE certainly inspired and made possible the formation of a wide variety of human rights movements in Central and Eastern Europe, such as Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia and Solidarity in Poland, which lobbied their governments to observe their commitments undertaken when they signed the Helsinki Final Act.

Human rights, a long-standing taboo for the Soviet Bloc, became by virtue of the Final Act a legitimate subject of East-West dialogue. The CSCE was thus important in keeping the spotlight on human rights and linking progress in that sphere with cooperation on other more traditional security questions.

Military security

The CSCE can be credited with reducing tensions through its implementation of confidence-building measures agreed upon by participating states, which enhanced military transparency through inspections of armed forces and military activities. This significantly reduced fears that war might start through the misinterpretation of routine military activities, which might have mistakenly been perceived as the initiation of offensive action.