Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva told the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday that global multilateralism is being eroded, Agencia Brasil reported. In his eighth speech to the forum and the first of his third presidency, Lula also spoke about protectionism and the difficulty of resolving conflicts.
Opening the general debate of heads of state at the 78th United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York, Lula defended the need to reform the global governance system.
Since taking office, Lula has argued in speeches at various international forums that the current model of governance, created after World War II, no longer reflects the geopolitics of the 21st century. For the president, there must be adequate representation of emerging countries in bodies such as the UN Security Council. Today, this council, which has the power to make major international decisions, includes only the United States, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom.
We will remain critical of any attempt to divide the world into zones of influence and to revive the Cold War. The UN Security Council is gradually losing its credibility. This fragility stems in particular from the actions of its permanent members, who wage unauthorized wars in pursuit of territorial expansion or regime change. Its paralysis is the most eloquent proof of the need and urgency to reform it and make it more representative and effective, Lula said.
For him, more representative international bodies could, for example, impose sanctions on countries that fail to meet their climate commitments. Lula said that world leaders lack the political will to overcome inequalities, and stressed that the unequal performance of funding bodies is unacceptable.
In the most important instances of global governance, negotiations in which all countries have a voice and a vote have lost momentum. When institutions reproduce inequalities, they are part of the problem, not part of the solution. Last year, the IMF provided US$ 160 billion in special drawing rights to European countries and only US$ 34 billion to African countries. The unequal and distorted representation at the helm of the IMF and World Bank is unacceptable. We have not corrected the excesses of market deregulation and the apology for the minimal state. The foundations for a new economic governance have not been laid, Lula said.
The South American leader also criticized the weakening of the multilateral trading system, saying that protectionism by rich countries has gained strength. The World Trade Organization remains paralyzed, especially its dispute settlement system.
According to Lula, the BRICS - a bloc of emerging economies to which Brazil belongs - was born in the wake of this paralysis and represents a strategic platform to promote cooperation among these countries. The recent expansion of the group at the Johannesburg Summit strengthens the struggle for an order that takes into account the economic, geographical and political plurality of the 21st century, he said.
We are a force for fairer world trade in the context of a serious crisis of multilateralism, he said of the addition of six new members to the group, which already includes Brazil, Russia, China, India and South Africa.
The fight against climate change also featured prominently in the Brazilian's speech. Lula demanded that rich countries meet their international commitments, such as donating US$ 100 billion a year to developing countries to preserve their forests, and said a socially just and environmentally sustainable development model was possible.
The Brazilian president landed in New York on Saturday evening and participated in meetings with businesspeople and foreign authorities. On Wednesday, he will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and US President Joseph Biden. With the latter, Lula will launch a global initiative to promote decent work.
In his speech at the UN, Lula criticized neoliberalism, saying that unemployment and job insecurity have undermined people's confidence in better times, especially young people. For the president, this has led to the rise of the extreme right in various parts of the world.
Racism, intolerance and xenophobia have spread, encouraged by new technologies that are supposed to bring us closer together.
Neoliberalism has exacerbated the economic and political inequality that plagues democracies today. Its legacy is a mass of underprivileged and marginalized people. In the midst of its wreckage, far-right adventurers are emerging who deny politics and sell solutions that are as simple as they are wrong. Many have succumbed to the temptation to replace a failed neoliberalism with a primitive, conservative and authoritarian nationalism, the president said.
For Lula, active cultural, educational and digital inclusion policies are essential to promoting democratic values and defending the rule of law. In the same vein, the president defended freedom of the press and criticized the continued detention of Australian journalist and activist Julian Assange.
In his speech, Lula also defended peace, saying that armed conflicts are an affront to human rationality. It is disturbing to see that old unresolved disputes persist and new threats emerge or gain strength, he said.
The war in Ukraine highlights our collective inability to enforce the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, Lula added to world leaders, including the Ukrainian president.
The Brazilian leader also mentioned the difficulty of guaranteeing the creation of a state for the Palestinian people, the risk of a coup in Guatemala, the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Haiti, the conflict in Yemen, the threats to national unity in Libya, and the institutional breakdowns in Burkina Faso, Gabon, Guinea-Conakry, Mali, Niger and Sudan.
Lula insisted on the need to create spaces for dialogue in international forums and that too much is invested in armaments and too little in development.
Stability and security will not be achieved where there is social exclusion and inequality. The UN was born to be the home of understanding and dialogue. The international community must choose: on the one hand, the proliferation of conflicts, the deepening of inequalities and the erosion of the rule of law. On the other hand, the renewal of multilateral institutions dedicated to the promotion of peace, he said.
It is the responsibility of the Brazilian government to deliver the first address to the United Nations General Assembly, followed by the President of the United States. This tradition dates back to the organization's beginnings in the late 1940s.
This is the eighth time that President Lula has opened the General Debate of Heads of State. During his two previous terms, he participated in the event every year between 2003 and 2009. In 2010, he was represented by then-Foreign Minister and current Special Advisor to the President, Celso Amorim. (Source: Agencia Brasil)