At the Roots of the European Security System:
Thirty Years Since the Helsinki Final Act
8-10 September 2005, Zurich, Switzerland
Conveners: Andreas Wenger and Christian Nuenlist
Center for Security Studies at the ETH Zurich
The conference, organized by the Center for Security Studies at the ETH Zurich as a partner in the Parallel History Project on NATO and the Warsaw Pact (PHP) , in cooperation with National Security Archive at the George Washington University and the Cold War International History Project of the Woodrow Wilson International Center of Scholars , both in Washington, DC, and the Machiavelli Center of Cold War Studies in Florence, brought together the most innovative results of recent historical research on the early CSCE process. It was hold in Zurich on 7-10 September 2005.
The Zurich conference, by focusing on the “roots of European security” aimed at a large picture, of which the human rights issue is an integral, but only one, part. At issue is the significance of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) for the redefinition and expansion of the meaning of security, resulting in increased importance of its non-military 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 conference aimed at striking balance between what is important and what is new. It called for analyzing and interpreting the roots of European security as they are to be 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.
The conference ran for 3 days, from Thursday to Saturday. 28 speakers presented their papers. At a concluding oral history roundtable, ten former diplomats and policy-makers contributed their memories to the scholarly debate. Polish Foreign Minister Adam D. Rotfeld and Prof. Vojtech Mastny gave introductory and concluding keynote speeches.