The balance of Brazil’s participation in the UN General Assembly is positive, in the opinion of Paulo Velasco, professor of International Politics at the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ). He thinks that President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva had a positive performance in his most important agendas and did not make any mistakes.
“There was no ball out, there was no goal against, which when it comes to Lula is something rare. Because he hits a lot, but as he appears too much, he ends up making a lot of mistakes too”, said the professor to Brasil de Fato.
Examples of recent mistakes, according to him, are the excessively effusive reception given to the president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, during the Brasilia Summit, last May – when he called what was said about Venezuela a “narrative” – and the stance towards to the war in Ukraine, due to the fact that he has stated on some occasions that Ukraine and Russia are equally responsible for the conflict.
At the UN, Velasco highlights the following positive aspects: Lula’s speech, “correct, touching on sensitive points and very well received by the international community”; the launch of a partnership with the United States in favor of decent work, which he considers to be a “legitimate concern” of Lula and Joe Biden; the conversation with the Ukrainian Volodimir Zelensky, honest and important; among other topics, such as UN reform and climate change.
Read the interview below:
The Partnership for Workers’ Rights and the exchange of affection between Lula and Biden are based on a legitimate interest in improving the conditions of workers in both countries and in the world as a whole, or has more to do with the intention of bringing the Brazil closer to the USA, in counterpoint to the proximity between Brazil and China, especially within the scope of the expanded Brics?
Brazil is of great importance to the United States, especially because we are a very representative actor in Latin America and especially in a context in which China has been making strong progress in the region. So you can’t dissociate one thing from the other. There is concern in the US with this Chinese projection, which is economic but also contains a political bias, which worries Americans because Latin America is seen as an area of natural US influence. The USA is not in a position to launch itself headlong into an auction, because it cannot match what China has been offering to the region, but they know that it is important to have good relations with Brazil. So, there is a geopolitical concern.
But there is a natural affinity between Lula and Biden, which was evident in their March meeting at the White House. Biden is from a left wing of the Democratic Party, although there are figures further to the left than him. The PD has a historical relationship with American unions and Lula is not even mentioned. So, it seems like a legitimate concern for both of them. It’s not lip service. It’s an interesting agenda, as was the one in 2011 between Dilma and Obama for an open government, which was the last major partnership launched by the two countries, also during a UN General Assembly.
The partnership does not provide deadlines or concrete goals. These are very broad and superficial objectives, which can cause the document to fall flat.
But the subject is beneficial and reinforces the Brasília-Washington affinity at a time when Brazil is playing a double game, and that’s what it really has to do, without hastily choosing either side, not even Russia and China on one side ( the post-Western world), nor Western partners.
Shortly after a Brics meeting in which it was decided to expand the group, both Lula’s speech and this reciprocal affection between Lula and Biden are interesting. This is lucid and pragmatic.
How do you evaluate the meeting between Lula and Zelensky?
Lula was honest in showing that Brazil will not support sanctions against Russia, and in fact we will not do so. If Brazil really dreams of having some relevant role in the search for mediation, it is important that these ties are direct and frank. The conversation served to show that diplomacies will remain in contact. The Ukrainian Foreign Minister was happy to say that the meeting served to break the ice.
Regarding the environmental issue, so talked about in the speeches, you can see some concrete progress in the debates during the General Assembly, remembering that some of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases were not represented by their presidents, such as China, Russia, France and Great Britain, all permanent members of the Security Council?
The General Assembly hardly brings specific dividends. It is another stage for States to declare their good will. So, in fact, there was nothing very notable, but the simple reiteration of the commitment and centrality of the agenda is already a positive sign. Even though there are contradictions between polluters and those seeking to mobilize the agenda. It is interesting to see a large emitter like the United States having its president deliver a strong speech on climate change. And the absences of some leaders are natural. Nothing that draws too much attention.
Marina Silva’s announcement that Brazil will increase greenhouse gas emissions cuts targets seems feasible (the Minister of Environment and Climate Change read a letter from the Brazilian government on behalf of Lula and said that Brazil would increase to 48% its emissions reduction target by 2025 and to 53% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels)?
Marina’s stance is compatible with the Paris Agreement, which calls on States to periodically expand the ambition of the commitments assumed, and Brazil is following this line. Previously, the deadline for zero illegal deforestation in the Amazon and for carbon neutrality had already been brought forward. It won’t be easy, the challenge is gigantic. But it’s part of the game.
Regarding UN reform, do you think there is any chance of the Security Council having new permanent members? What are the credentials of Brazil, which keeps demanding the expansion of the CS?
I would say the chance is small. I think that there is no agreement between the great powers so that the reform can move forward in the short term, especially to make the positions of the United States and China compatible with the possible entry of Japan (China is against it). Brazil has solid credentials to seek a permanent position, at the same level as Japan, India and Germany, with which it is part of the G4. We already have official support from Russia, the United Kingdom and France, which is no small feat.
Editing: Thalita Pires