In the speech that opened the 66th United Nations General Assembly yesterday, president Dilma Rousseff stated her opposition to military intervention in countries in north Africa and the Middle East where anti-government uprisings, known as the Arab Spring, have taken place.
“We vehemently repudiate the brutal repression against civilian populations. We are convinced that it should be a norm in the international community that the use of force must be the last resort,” she declared.
Dilma called for the UN Security Council to act more efficiently in conflict resolution. “The nations gathered here must find a more legitimate and efficient manner to assist societies that clamor for reforms, while permitting those societies to control the reform process. The quest for world peace and security cannot be limited to interventions in extreme situations.”
Dilma concluded by saying that Brazil favored the position taken by the UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, that is, to “prevent conflicts,” rather than fight them as the United States has chosen to do. The ideal, Dilma said, was unrelenting exercise of democracy and the promotion of development.
“Today the world suffers the painful consequences of interventions that have aggravated conflicts, giving rise to terrorism where it did not exist, inaugurating new cycles of violence, multiplying the number of civilian victims. Another problem is that while much is said about the responsibility of protecting the innocent; little is done about the responsibility of the intervener while protecting them; these are two concepts that must go hand in hand.”
Dilma pointed out that many Arabs have immigrated to Brazil where they have found an ideal that does not belong to any single culture because it is universal: liberty.
The Brazilian president also declared that this century was going to be the women’s century. And she pointed out that many important words in Portuguese, such as hope, life and soul, as well as courage and sincerity, were feminine nouns.
Dilma called the situation in the world delicate. She went on to say that if the international financial crisis is not controlled it could cause an unprecedented grave social and political rupture, with a possibility of serious imbalances among nations and peoples.
Dilma pointed out that the problem was not only economic, but one of governance and political will. And she emphasized that all nations had a right to participate in the solutions, that the crisis was too serious to be left in the hands of only a few countries.
“There will not be a return of confidence and growth without coordinated efforts by the members of the UN and other multilateral organizations such as the G-20, the IMF and the World Bank. There must be clear signs of political cohesion and macroeconomic coordination,” she declared.
As for the solution, Dilma said there was not a lack of financial resources, but a lack of political resources and clarity of ideas behind the inability of the leaders of developed nations to find solutions. She said they seemed to be “trapped,” because they were unable to separate parochial interests from the legitimate interests of society as a whole.
She added that the challenge presented by the crisis was to substitute worn out theories, from an old world, with modern formulations for a new world:
“We have to be united because we will all come out of this together – as winners, or as losers. …At this moment it is less important to find the causes of the situation, even though we know what they were, than it is to find collective solutions, sound solutions, and to do so quickly.”
Dilma also announced that Brazil was willing and able to assist other developing nations and that all nations had to join in the fight against world unemployment.
Nations should halt currency wars by avoiding free-floating exchange regimes stated Rousseff, adding that Brazil was not invincible against the global crisis though she claims it was one of the world’s least affected countries by the recession.
“Controls must be imposed on the currency war through the adoption of floating exchange rate regimes,” she said in a speech at the opening of the UN General Assembly session.
“That means putting an end to exchange rate manipulation both by excessively expansionary monetary policies (US) and by the stratagem of fixed exchange rates (China),” she observed.
The Brazilian leader stressed the crisis is “too deep” to be addressed by “a couple of countries” exclusively. According to her, the emerging countries earned their right to participate on the crisis decisions for being the ones “currently responsible for the world’s economic growth” and reinforced the Brazilian claim to a permanent seat on the UN’s Security Council.
The chief of state also showed full Brazilian support to the Palestinian claim to UN recognition saying it was “a legitimate right” and highlighted “Muslims and Jewish should coexist in peace.” She remembered Brazil recognizes Palestine within the 1967 border delimitations, before de Six Days War. “It is time for Palestine to have representation here.”
On the ecological front, Rousseff said Brazil has presented a plan to significantly reduce CO emissions and is ready to take a leading roll on the process. She also stressed the importance of fighting poverty and remarked the importance of gender inclusion.
The Brazilian President became the first woman to open a United Nations General Assembly in the 66 years of the institution’s history.
“I feel I am representing all the women in the world. The ones who cannot feed their kids, suffer domestic violence, house wives and ordinary women in general,” she said.
“As a women tortured during dictatorship I am very aware of the values of justice,” she concluded.