Dilma Rousseff, the president of Brazil, will become on Wednesday the first woman ever to open the round of speeches marking the beginning of the United Nations General Assembly.
“On the 21st, the president becomes the first woman since the foundation of the United Nations to address, with her speech, the opening of the General Assembly”, pointed out the Brazilian Foreign Affairs ministry.
President Rousseff’s activities in New York have started Monday at a special meeting on chronic diseases chaired by the former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet who is currently head of the Woman Office in the UN.
On Tuesday Ms Rousseff is scheduled to meet with US president Barack Obama with both leaders making the official presentation of the Open Government Society, a UN promoted initiative, which this year is jointly chaired by the US and Brazil, said Rodrigo Baena, spokes person for the Brazilian presidency.
Later in the day the Brazilian president will be meeting her Mexican peer, Felipe Calderón and at night will be awarded a prize for her dedication as public servant, from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
On Wednesday before opening the round of speeches of the 66th General Assembly, President Rousseff will have a private meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
“The president is drafting a wide ranging and incisive speech in which she will defend social inclusion and human rights guarantees”, said the official news agency Brazil.
Likewise the Brazilian leader will address the effects of the global crisis, the need to reform the UN Security Council, supporting sustainable development and recalling that next June 2012 Rio do Janeiro will be hosting the world conference on climate change, Rio+20.
Following her speech the Brazilian president is scheduled to hold private meetings with UK Prime Minister David Cameron and later French president Nicholas Sarkozy with whom she will address the world crisis among other issues.
On Thursday the agenda in New York is over but previously Ms Rousseff will be participating in a UN nuclear security meeting and of a Security Council session on preventive diplomacy.
Over 120 world leaders are expected in New York for the UN General Assembly where Palestine’s bid for UN membership is likely to be the highlight. A lot of attention is also expected around the ‘Arab Spring’ and general unrest in that region.
In Defense of a Palestinian State
Brazil will ‘defend’ the recognition of a Palestinian state during the coming United Nations General Assembly discussions, said President Dilma Rousseff’s international affairs advisor Marco Aurelio García.
“The president is going to defend December’s position” when Brazil recognized the existence of the Palestinian State, Marco Aurelio told O Globo daily.
According to the Rio newspaper, “President Rousseff will talk about the issue during her speech that will open the round of UN debates next Wednesday.
“As we all know Brazil recognized the Palestinian State December 2010, in a letter addressed by former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to the president of the Palestinian National Authority, (Mahmud Abbas), and there is no change anticipated in the Brazilian position,” the Planalto Palace (Executive) spokesperson Rodrigo Baena Soares publicly announced last week.
However Gabriela Shaley, former Israel ambassador before the UN expressed strong disagreement with Brazil’s position.
“For me it is frustrating, we have an optimum relation with Brazil when it comes to a vote in the UN, Brazil always votes against Israel, that makes me sad,” Shaley was quoted by Globo.
The Palestinians are seeking international recognition of their state based on 1967 borders – the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.
But Israel and the US say a Palestinian state can only be achieved through direct negotiations, however the Palestinian leadership says this approach has got them nowhere. The last round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down a year ago.
Abbas anticipates “the Palestinian people and their leadership will pass through very difficult times after the Palestinian approach to the United Nations through the Security Council”.
The Palestinian leader says his first step will be to ask for full membership at the Security Council, rather than going to the UN General Assembly to seek a more modest upgrade in status.
The US says it will use its veto to block the bid in the Security Council.
Israeli deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon said the Palestinians were “shirking their responsibilities first and foremost with their people”.
“A unilateral declaration by the Palestinians of independence or any UN decision will actually be a vote for friction and conflict over co-operation and reconciliation and I think that would be deplorable for many years,” Ayalon told the BBC World Service.
But he also said that the upcoming vote is “not a serious vote because it doesn’t matter”. He added that “the important vote is in the Security Council. There the vote will not pass”.