Sarah B. Snyder is a historian of U.S. foreign relations who specializes in the history of the Cold War, human rights activism, and U.S. human rights policy. She is the author of two award-winning books. From Selma to Moscow: How Human Rights Activists Transformed U.S. Foreign Policy (2018) explains how transnational connections and 1960s-era social movements inspired Americans to advocate for a new approach to human rights. Her first book, Human Rights Activism and the End of the Cold War: A Transnational History of the Helsinki Network (2011), analyzes the development of a transnational network devoted to human rights advocacy and its contributions to the end of the Cold War. She is also the co-editor with Nicolas Badalassi of The CSCE and the End of the Cold War: Diplomacy, Societies and Human Rights, 1972-1990 (2018). In addition to authoring several chapters in edited collections, she has also published articles in Diplomatic History, Cold War History, Human Rights Quarterly, Diplomacy & Statecraft, Journal of Transatlantic Studies, European Journal of Human Rights and Journal of American Studies. She previously served as a Lecturer at University College London and as a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University.
The lecture shows the policy implications for the end of the Cold War by analyzing ways in which recalcitrant states can be persuaded to change. It suggests international shaming can be effective-wish-full member of international community. It explores how activists can maintain momentum despite changes in political leadership. It demonstrates that human contacts are a means to bridging political, ideological, military, and economic divides. It also highlights how an issue can gain salience through personalization as Western human rights activists and politicians made the plight of Eastern European dissidents more immediate to a wider public. Snyder answers the question, how did the 1975 Helsinki Final Act, which was a voluntary agreement quickly dismissed by many international participants and commentators, come to play such an influential role in the end of the Cold War? She shows how several structural aspects of the document led to its surprising strength, and a number of developments in the years that followed fostered a process that offered opportunities to use the Helsinki Final Act to realize change in Europe.