The doctrine of “collective public goods,” such as drinking water and forest resources, and their management by the “international community,” rather than by the governments of the countries where they are situated, is becoming increasingly popular in international debating circles and may represent the germ of future foreign interference in the Amazon, according to the executive secretary of Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Relations (Itamaraty), Samuel Pinheiro Guimarães.
“Nowadays, a physical presence is not required in order to enjoy the benefits of occupation,” Guimarães declared, referring to the Amazon region, in a debate, “The Internationalization of the Amazon: Real Risk or Imaginary Fear,” sponsored by the Brazilian Senate.
“I wouldn’t claim that there is a threat that the Amazon will be internationalized, but I confess I find it interesting that this concern never goes away.”
The diplomat explained that these ideas are still largely confined to seminar debates, although they may be spreading to “ever-widening circles.”
And he added that Brazil’s chief concern should be to administer the region adequately. “To the extent that the sovereign State administers the natural resources of the Amazon region, all types of threats diminish to the same degree.”
At the beginning of this year, the Itamaraty issued a note in response to declarations by the former Trade Commissioner of the European Union, Pascal Lamy.
According to Guimarães, at an Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) debate in Geneva on “global governance,” Lamy, who is currently a candidate for the post of director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), spoke in favor of “international rules for collective public goods,” such as tropical forests (without referring specifically to the Amazon), water, fish, and the ozone layer.
The appropriateness of emitting this note was questioned by the Senators. Guimarães replied that the Itamaraty’s statement was “firm,” not “exaggerated,” and that it was intended to reaffirm that “Brazil is competent to administer its territory.”