Brazil’s recent history of siding with some of today’s most oppressive governments must end. As we watch the events in Tunisia and Egypt unfold, Brazil’s track record of supporting and befriending today’s most powerful dictators is downright shameful. This position is not only contrary to the country’s desire to become a leader in global human rights, but also irresponsible.
Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s apparent willingness to greet and negotiate with oppressive regimes was counterproductive to the world’s development. Current President Dilma Rousseff has an opportunity to break with this trend by living up to the country’s humanitarian aspirations and expectations, as evidenced in the nation’s involvement with the world’s most respected humanitarian organizations.
Brazil became a member of the UN Human Rights Council when the multilateral body was created in 2006. Brazil’s involvement with the organization has served as a platform for Brazil to contribute to important human rights matters, including resolutions offering access to medicines combating pandemics such as HIV / AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Brazil also introduced and championed initiatives to protect children rights and to combat discrimination by defending the incompatibility between democracy and racism.
Although such initiatives are noteworthy, Brazil has been less than helpful with other matters of global importance. In 2009 it stopped supporting the Council’s resolutions dealing with North Korea’s human rights violations. Brazil also refrained from standing up to the international crimes committed under Sudan’s regime. Additionally, Brazil supported Sri Lanka’s resolution, in which the massacre of over 70 thousand people during 25 years of civil war was not recognized.