Study title
At the Roots of the European Security System: The Early Helsinki Process Revisited, 1965-1975
Ref study 8773
Study language English
Contributing institutions
  • Aussenpolitik
  • Sicherheitspolitik
  • KSZE
  • Kalter Krieg
  • Multilateralismus
  • Internationale Verhandlungen
1965 bis 1975
Geographical space
Europa, transatlantischer Raum
The 30th anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act in 2005 brought about a whole harvest of conferences and commemorative events. These focused mainly on the CSCE's accomplishment in making human rights an indispensable requirement of a legitimate and well-functioning international system. While not trying to detract from the importance of this signal accomplishment, the present conference, by focusing on the "roots of European security" aimed at the larger picture, of which the human rights issue is an integral, but only one, part. At issue was the significance of the CSCE for the redefinition and expansion of the meaning of security, resulting in increased importance of its nonmilitary ingredients at the expense of the military ones that is characteristic of today's remarkably stable and peaceful European security system-a model to other parts of the world.
The international conference was organized by the Center for Security Studies at ETH Zurich as a partner in the Parallel History Project on NATO and the Warsaw Pact (PHP), in cooperation with the National Security Archvive at George Washington University in Washington DC, the Cold War International History Project (CWIHP) at the Woodrow Wilson International Center of Scholars in Washington DC, and the Machiavelli Center for Cold War Studies in Florence. It was held in Rueschlikon near Zurich on 8-10 September 2005.
The conference stroke balance between what is important and what is new. It analyzed and interpreted the roots of European security as they are found in the CSCE from both new archival evidence and testimony by witnesses of the time. In view of the 30-year rule generally applicable for access to Western archives, the former requirement made it expedient to limit the conference to the period up to 1975-the year of the Final Act and actual starting point of the "Helsinki process." Such a limitation makes conceptual sense as well if focus is to be on the roots, since the process that evolved after the Final Act was differed in important ways from the preparatory negotiations that had shaped it.
At the same time, the limitation should not be construed to exclude archival material available for the post-1975 period in Eastern European, North American, and some other archives, much less the testimony of participants involved in the CSCE process at different times. In looking at the roots, a longer view, informed by the knowledge of eventually came out of them, cannot be taken without, to be sure, losing from sight the perspective of the time. Selected presented papers will be published in 2007 in a book volume edited by Andreas Wenger, Vojtech Mastny, and Christian Nuenlist (London: Routledge).
Siehe Konferenzbericht unter:
Methods (description)

Methods (instruments)
Replicated study No
  • Wenger, Andreas; Mastny, Vojtech; Nuenlist, Christian. 2008. Origins of the European Security System: The Helsinki Process Revisited, 1965-75. London: Routledge, 2008, 276 p.
Financed by
Ethical approval No
Study type
Data availability
Source (Updates) Web
Date created 31.01.2007
Date modified 31.01.2007
Start - End date 01.01.2004 - 28.12.2007