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Helsinki Accords Review Had Little Impact on Soviet Human Rights Practices, U.S. Envoy Says

June 3, 1981
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Ambassador Max Kampelman, Chairman of the U.S. delegation to the Madrid Review Conference of the Helsinki accords, said last night that in spite of the efforts of the Conference, little improvement has been achieved in regards to human rights practices in the Soviet Union. Kampelman and Prof. Telford Taylor were presented with the annual Solidarity Awards of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry at the Roosevelt Hotel here as part of its three-day policy conference.

Kampelman said that in spite of the work done at the Madrid Conference, “there have been 46 arrests of human rights activists and no increase in the departures of Jews” from the Soviet Union. He noted that in 1980 alone, 242 Jews and non-Jews were arrested by Soviet authorities thus representing “the largest number of arrests in the Soviet Union (of this kind) in 15 years.”

The Madrid Conference started in Nov. 1980 as part of a continuing review of the Helsinki agreement adopted in August 1975 by 35 nations including the United States and the Soviet Union. The declaration in part pledged the signers to “respect fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of thought conscience, religion or belief.” Kampelman noted that at the first review conference in 1978 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, only the United States mentioned the plight of dissidents in the Soviet Union. He observed however that at least II nations at the Madrid Conference mentioned the names of dissidents.


Kampelman said that when “80, 90, 100 names are mentioned at an international forum, or when 10,000 Jews are allowed to emigrate” or when many “Prisoners of Conscience are released from the Soviet Union, then I will accept this award with conviction.” He added that this award represents not the work done in the past, but that which is needed to be done in the future.

Prof. Taylor, prosecutor at the Nuremberg war crimes trials, is Nash Professor Emeritus of Law at the Columbia University Law School, and holds the Kaiser Chair in Constitutional Law at Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University. He is author of “Courts of Terror”, describing how he and a group of American lawyers worked through the Soviet judicial system to free prisoners convicted while trying to emigrate to Israel.

Taylor received the award “for his unwavering committment to justice for all people and his advocacy on behalf of the Soviet Jewish Prisoners of Conscience.” Taylor, who was presented with the award by former Prisoner of Conscience Hillel Butman, said that it is Butman and his fellow prisoners who deserve the solidarity awards”because they set the example for the awards tonight.”

The NCSJ also presented awards to four organizations for their activities on behalf of Soviet Jewry. They are: the Women’s American ORT for its “Free-a-Family” program; the American Jewish Committee for establishing an Inter-religious Task Force on Soviet Jewry; the South Florida Conference on Soviet Jewry (Miami) for the publication of refusenik case histories; and the Subcommittee on Soviet Jewry of the New Haven Jewish Federation for its community outreach program.

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