Penn State International Law Review

First Paragraph

Historically, turning points have been moments of drastic change, generating upheavals, turmoil and often violence, yet also inspiring heroism, dramatic improvement and hope for the future. The problem facing any historian of twentieth century events is to figure out the parameters of the various turning points and to assess, critically and rationally, the consequences and probable implications of tumultuous events worldwide. It is a truism that we live in an extraordinarily fast-paced world, a fact proven by the hectic series of transformations affecting the Soviet Union in recent months. The incredible speed of events in that generally ponderously slow political system have already been labelled "revolutionary." Analyzing the possible impact of those events in terms of the likely consequences for human rights worldwide is a daunting task but one which needs to be undertaken urgently, not least because the Russian people, in defying their communist rulers have charted a new course of popular participation that is likely in the next few years to galvanize and inspire the citizens of other nations who still suffer under the yoke of communist and other forms of dictatorship. This current enthusiasm for democracy opens a window of opportunity for the implementation of human rights norms and for their acceptance worldwide. It is an opportunity that ought to be seized by human rights activists everywhere for there may never be a moment again when dictatorship is so threatened, when popular participation is so strong, and when global cooperation among the powerful nations is at its peak.