H.E. Mr. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, President
23 September 2008
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LUIZ INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA, President of Brazil, said the general debate was being held at a particularly serious moment, as the world faced an economic and financial crisis that required decisive action by Governments, especially in countries at the heart of the crisis. The economy was too serious an undertaking to be left in the hands of speculators. Mechanisms for prevention and control were needed to provide total transparency to international finance. The financial crisis’ global nature meant solutions must be global, and the United Nations, as the world’s largest multilateral arena, needed to issue a call for vigorous response to that and other weighty threats.
Turning to other serious matters facing the world, President Lula noted the food crisis, the energy crisis, and the risks to world trade if an agreement of the World Trade Organization’s Doha Round was not achieved, as well as the unrestrained degradation of the environment. He said the financial, food, energy, environmental and migration crises, as well as the threats to peace in several regions of the world, revealed that the multilateral system must be overhauled to meet the challenges of the twentieth century.
Developing countries had stepped into new roles in designing a multi-polar world, such as the India, Brazil, South Africa (IBSA) Initiatives, the G-20 at the World Trade Organization, the summits between South America and Africa, and between South America, Arab countries and the “BRIC” countries ( Brazil, Russia, India and China). He pointed to the Union of South America Nations (UNASUR) creation last May, the first treaty after 200 years of independence that brought together all South American countries. This new political union would coordinate the region’s countries in terms of infrastructure, energy, social policies, finance and defence. Gathered in Santiago, Chile, just more than a week ago, the Presidents of South America had demonstrated UNASUR’s ability to respond quickly and effectively to complex situations, such as the one in Bolivia.
Turning to the reform of the Security Council, he said the United Nations had spent 15 years discussing the reform of the Council, but that body’s present structure had been frozen for six decades and did not relate to the challenges of today’s world. He was encouraged by the Assembly’s decision to launch negotiations in the near future on the matter.
Turning to the food and energy crises, he said the inflation of food prices was driven by climatic factors and speculation in agricultural commodities, as well as increasing food prices. He said attempts to link high food prices to the dissemination of biofuels did not stand up to an objective analysis, and Brazil’s experience showed that sugar cane ethanol and biodiesel production reduced its dependency on fossil fuels, as it created jobs and regenerated degraded land and was fully compatible with expanding food production.
He went on to say the international community had a long way to go to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Brazil had taken decisive steps to transform the lives of Brazilians, and had created nearly 10 million formal jobs, improved public services, lifted 9 million people out of extreme poverty and brought 20 million more people more into the middle class. In a year marking the 100th birthday of the great Brazilian Josue de Castro, the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) first Director General and a pioneer in the studies focused on world hunger, it was worthwhile to re-read his warning: “It is no longer possible to sit back and let a region go hungry, without the entire world suffering the consequences.” He was proud to say that Brazil was overcoming hunger and poverty.