Brazil wants to focus on Africa and Latin America in a new mandate at the UN Security Council – 01/01/2022 – World

The year 2022 will begin with Brazil’s return to the United Nations Security Council (UN). Next Tuesday (4), the country takes office for a two-year term as a non-permanent member of the institution, with seven goals in focus.

As told to leaf Ambassador Ronaldo Costa Filho, head of the Brazilian mission to the UN in New York, the country plans to use the seat to debate issues related to Latin America, with a focus on Haiti and Colombia, and to dedicate itself to the work front involving conflicts in Africa, ” in search of more agile solutions that listen to all sides involved”.

In parallel, the diplomat expects to maintain the request for reform of the organ — which for some time has been the target of questions about its concrete capacity for action to maintain peace.

Costa Filho estimates that around 70% of the Security Council’s work is now dedicated to African countries. With the Brazilian strategy, the tendency is for a closer relationship with this region.

Itamaraty has embassies in at least 33 nations in Africa. During the Presidency of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT, 2003-2010), Brazilian diplomacy sought to strengthen ties with the so-called global South, in a movement that included the opening of diplomatic representations on the continent.

Under Jair Bolsonaro (PL), however, the priority was relations with the United States —seeking an alliance with then-President Donald Trump, who was unable to get re-elected— and with countries led by conservative leaders, such as Viktor Orbán’s Hungary and Andrzej Duda’s Poland.

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A recent setback in diplomacy in the current administration, incidentally, involved precisely an African nation: the Bolsonaro government withdrew the appointment of Marcelo Crivella to be ambassador to South Africa. to a crisis of the Universal Church (of which the former mayor of Rio is a licensed bishop) on the continent.

Among the African conflicts that could reach the Security Council are the confrontation between the government and opponents in Ethiopia, attacks by an armed group in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the consequences of military coups in Mali and the reconstruction of Libya, devastated by a civil war which began after a foreign intervention authorized by the UN — at the time, Brazil also had a mandate in the organ and was opposed to the action, but the vote was lost.

The Security Council is the United Nations body with the most power to act. Its main mission is to try to prevent and end conflicts and prevent countries from threatening each other. For that, it can order international military operations, apply sanctions and create peace missions, to try to reorganize territories after conflicts or catastrophes.

Brazil headed one of these peacekeeping missions in Haiti from 2004 to 2017. Even after that, the Caribbean country continues to face serious problems, ranging from extreme poverty to gang violence, natural disasters and political instability — which has reached its peak in July, when then-president Jovenel Moïse was shot dead.

Colombia, another priority for Brazil in Latin America, is seen as the best example, due to the peace agreement with the FARC, which led guerrillas to leave the armed conflict — although there are still issues to be resolved.

One of the biggest criticisms of the Security Council is its model considered to be plastered, which makes it difficult to adopt firmer actions, especially in cases involving great powers.

The permanent members—US, China, Russia, United Kingdom, and France—may veto any measure they don’t like. Thus, Moscow, for example, manages to prevent punishments against itself in relation to its military actions involving Ukraine.

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“The Security Council has proven completely ineffective at containing conflicts, especially if they involve a permanent member,” says Dalibor Rohac, a foreign policy and defense expert at the American Enterprise Institute think tank. For him, the crisis between Moscow and Kiev, underway since the annexation of Crimea in 2014, was a violation of Russia’s own international commitments.

“While there is some value in having a forum in which the great powers can bargain with each other, the Security Council is an ossified and increasingly irrelevant institution. That reality would not change with the addition of more temporary members.”

The collegiate has 15 seats, 5 of which are fixed and 10 are rotating. Brazil will occupy one of the non-permanent vacancies, alongside Albania, the United Arab Emirates, Gabon and Ghana. The other five temporary, whose terms run until the end of 2022, are India, Ireland, Mexico, Norway and Kenya.

For decades, Brazil has defended that the way to improve the Council’s performance is to promote a reform that increases the number of seats. But the chances of change in the short term are small, as permanent members do not want to have their power diluted and the reform needs to be approved at the General Assembly, where all 193 UN member countries vote.

As a result, there are fears that the reform could strengthen regional rivalries — Pakistan, for example, would not be happy if rival India were awarded a fixed seat. One way out in debate, to reduce resistance to reform, is that new permanent members do not have veto power.

On the Board, meetings take place in two ways. There is a general meeting, in which all member countries speak, without direct debates, and others closed, in which diplomats discuss issues more openly and negotiate agreements.

“This reserved debate allows greater freedom in the expression of positions, but generates dissatisfaction in other countries [de fora do Conselho], who speak of a lack of transparency. It seems to me, however, that the balance is possible”, analyzes ambassador Costa Filho. “Often, the essence of diplomacy is to have a little reserve. It is not negotiated through the press.”

For Daniel Rio Tinto, professor of international relations at FGV, returning to the collegiate body, even without the privileges of a fixed seat, will be positive for Brazil.

“Despite the disparity of power in the Council, the position of non-permanent member makes room for a country to exert influence in UN affairs and participate in high-level conversations on security and other costly issues,” he says. “Each subject discussed is an opportunity for Brazil to show that it can help solve that problem and that it could be doing it permanently.”

In this term, Costa Filho affirms that the Brazilian government must also engage in expanding the role of women and reinforce strategies to prevent abuses against them in the midst of conflicts. “The proposal is, increasingly, to include women in all stages of the process, both in field operations and in mediation and negotiation of solutions.”

As a non-permanent member, Brazil has also publicly pledged to advance in the defense of human rights, to expand articulation with regional entities —such as the OAS (Organization of American States), the African Union and the CPLP (Community of Portuguese Language Countries )— and to reinforce actions to stabilize countries that have recently emerged from conflict.

The country also defends that topics such as combating the climate crisis and post-Covid recovery are left out of the agenda of the Security Council, where there are only 15 participants, and are debated by the General Assembly.

“Climate change has its own negotiating process, which includes climate summits. This is the correct process, in which all countries can sit down and have their interests reflected and considered”, says Costa Filho.

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