In Geneva, Silvio Almeida affirms Brazil’s commitment to international human rights treaties

Minister of Human Rights spoke at a session of the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday morning; read the speech in full

Silvio de Almeida realiza seu primeiro discurso no Conselho de Direitos Humanos da ONU. Foto: Violanie Martins/ONU Silvio de Almeida realiza seu primeiro discurso no Conselho de Direitos Humanos da ONU. Foto: Violanie Martins/ONU

In a speech at the UN this Monday, February 27, the Minister of Human Rights, Silvio Almeida, said that the Brazilian government is “deeply committed” to international treaties and the Universal Periodic Review, a UN mechanism that assesses the human rights policies of member countries.

The statement by the minister was made at the 52nd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, which runs until early April. 

He said the new government has “reassessed the 306 recommendations from the last cycle of the Universal Periodic Review so the country’s new human rights policy is reflected in our positions at the international level”. In 2022, still during the Bolsonaro government, Brazil underwent its fourth cycle of the UPR, which was marked by calls for the protection of indigenous peoples and human rights defenders. 

According to Camila Asano, executive director of Conectas, “the minister’s speech makes the commitment that Brazilian civil society wants from the authorities before the international community. The statement reinforces how important it is for Brazil to observe international agreements and give special attention to the UPR. It is now up to us to closely monitor the actions to comply with this extensive rights agenda”. 

Indigenous peoples, women and science 

The minister also used his first speech at the UN Council to say that Brazil is sparing no efforts to restore the dignity of the Yanomami people and guarantee them “effective control over their lands”. Citing the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples, he said that no decision on indigenous rights will be taken without the participation of this population. The same, he said, applies to the rights of black people and women. 

Almeida addressed several topics and said that the government is drafting a new human rights policy with broad public participation. At another point in his speech, he said that public policies in Brazil will be science-based and that “women will have their sexual and reproductive rights reestablished in Brazil and that the SUS [public health system] will once again accept women who are victims of violence in an appropriate and humane way”. The human rights defenders, journalists and academics attacked by the Bolsonaro administration were also mentioned in his statement. According to the minister, Brazil will move forward with a legal framework for the protection of these groups. 

Business and human rights 

With regard to combating slave labor, the minister emphasized that Brazil will pay “renewed attention to gender and racial aspects, to domestic slave labor, to the reintegration of victims, to the relationship with human trafficking and to the involvement of companies in its perpetuation” and he said that the issue of business and human rights “has become central in view of the transnational activities of corporations and the regulatory asymmetries between countries”. 

Four alliances for human rights 

Almeida also proposed four alliances that the Brazilian government wants to build with the international community in the Human Rights Council. The first is the survival alliance, involving the climate issue and social and environmental rights; the second is the alliance for a decent life – with the purpose of eradicating poverty and offering work and leisure to all people; the third is the alliance for the right to development – on the possibilities of reinventing development especially in the Global South; and, finally, the alliance against hate – against hate speech based on racism, xenophobia, sexism and LGBTphobia. 

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