Brazil seeks UN reforms to better tackle wars like those in Gaza, Ukraine

General view of the G20 foreign ministers meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, taken on February 21, 2024. (Photo/AFP)

Brazil's foreign minister has called for reforms of the United Nations and other multilateral institutions while criticising their inability to prevent global conflicts as his country kicked off its presidency of the Group of 20 nations.

Mauro Vieira told fellow foreign ministers during opening remarks for a G20 meeting in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday that the UN Security Council has been unable to prevent or halt conflicts such as those playing out in Ukraine and besieged Gaza.

"Multilateral institutions are not adequately equipped to deal with current challenges, as demonstrated by the unacceptable paralysis of the Security Council in relation to ongoing conflicts," Vieira said.

One of Brazil's key proposals, set by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, is a reform of global governance institutions such as the United Nations, the World Trade Organisation and multilateral banks, where he wants to push for stronger representation of developing nations.

The leftist leader reiterated on February 18 his interest in expanding the UN's Security Council, contemplating the entry of more countries from Africa, Latin America, as well as India, Germany or Japan.

"We need to add more people and end the right of veto in the UN, because it is not possible for a country alone to be able to veto the approval of something approved by all members," Lula said while on a state visit to Ethiopia.

Whether Lula's push will be successful remains to be seen, as permanent members of the Security Council have in the past been dismissive of attempts at reform that would result in a loss of their power.

"Currently, there is no momentum to reform the UN The UN is in crisis, and maybe transforming the Security Council now is not ideal," said Lucas Pereira Rezende, a political scientist at the Federal University of Minas Gerais.

Vieira said Brazil was "deeply worried" by the proliferation of conflicts around the world - not just in Ukraine and Gaza, but in more than 170 locations, according to some studies, he said.

Discussions on Gaza

Earlier on Wednesday, Lula met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in the capital, Brasilia, for about two hours to discuss global governance and other issues.

Blinken, who is on a three-day trip to Brazil and Argentina, later headed to Rio for the G20 meeting.

The pair also discussed Israel's war on besieged Gaza, including working urgently to facilitate the release of all captives and to increase humanitarian assistance and improve protections for Palestinian civilians, according to a statement from the US Department of State.

They made no public comments on the diplomatic row between key US ally Israel and Brazil following Lula's comments comparing Israel's onslaught in the blockaded enclave to the Holocaust.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday at the African Union summit in Ethiopia, Lula said that "what is happening in the Gaza Strip and to the Palestinian people hasn’t been seen in any other moment in history. Actually, it did when Hitler decided to kill the Jews."

In response, Israel declared Lula a "persona non grata", summoned Brazil's ambassador to Israel and demanded an apology.

In retaliation, Lula recalled Brazil's ambassador for consultations.

Founded in 1999, the G20 brings together most of the world's biggest economies.

Originally an economic forum, it has grown increasingly involved in international politics.

A Brazilian government source said that after recent G20 struggles for consensus, the hosts axed the requirement that every meeting produce a joint statement — with the exception of the annual leaders' summit, scheduled for November in Rio.


Source: TRT