Conectas commends public dialogue with the Foreign Ministry, but says “much more needs to be done”
The Foreign Ministry this week took its first step towards what could be a greater participation by civil society in the definition of Brazilian foreign policy. Conectas acknowledged the effort – important, though still insufficient – and was present at the “Dialogues on Foreign Policy” in Brasília to address the topic of “International Governance”.
Camila Asano, coordinator of Foreign Policy at Conectas, acknowledged that the “initiative is positive”, but said that “much more still needs to be done”. She mentioned the proposal to draft a Foreign Ministry White Paper as another positive step, but noted that other fundamental measures are not being given the same attention, such as strict observance of the Freedom of Information Law.
“We still face a good deal of difficulty obtaining information from the Foreign Ministry using the Freedom of Information Law. The new dialogue and participation initiatives are not a substitute for the ministry’s obligation to be accountable to society on a transparent and permanent basis,” said Asano.
She also drew attention to the need to broaden the participation of society in these dialogues and pointed out that only 20 people were on yesterday’s panel on International Governance. “We need to expand the consultations in duration and scope,” she said.
On the topic of “International Governance”, Asano said that Brazil’s voice is heard abroad and that the country ought to convert this attention into concrete actions and proposals. “Brazil is one of the few countries whose constitution directly and expressly states that foreign policy must adhere to the imperatives of human rights,” she said. “This represents a breakthrough and a distinction, which Brazil should be able to use to its advantage.”
Asano also noted that the Foreign Ministry may be right when it “criticizes the selectivity of other countries and bodies such as the UN Human Rights Council in their choice of countries that will be the target of criticisms”. Nevertheless, she said that “selectivity will always exist in some form, since unfortunately some situations are particularly serious. The problem lies in the criteria for choosing which cases the UN will address. On this point, Brazil could be clearer in its proposals instead of just criticizing the existing model.”
Finally, the coordinator at Conectas mentioned Brazil’s repeated criticisms of the fact that the international system focuses only on “publicly shaming countries in violation without presenting proposals for greater engagement and collaboration”. On this point, what concerns Conectas is that Brazilian foreign policy “is limited to these two extremes, as if there were no middle ground”.
Read more about the position of Conectas on the transparency of the Foreign Ministry.