Conectas collects questions for foreign minister Figueiredo's first hearing in the Senate
On February 6, the Brazilian Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo will testify before the Senate for the first time since he took office, in August last year. The hearing in the Foreign Relations and National Defense Committee, which usually occurs at least once a year and always at the start of each minister’s term in office, has already been delayed twice. The last postponement occurred because it had been scheduled the day before a public holiday.
Just like with the former minister, Antonio Patriota, Conectas will submit to the minister and the senators before the hearing all the questions on foreign policy and human rights posed by the organization’s followers on Facebook and Twitter.
“The hearing with the minister and the senators is a rare opportunity to have a public discussion on the course of Brazilian foreign policy. Only by taking control of these channels will it be possible to make the Foreign Ministry deliver on its promises of more transparency and participation,” said Lucia Nader, executive director of Conectas.
The timing is particularly pertinent: in recent weeks, Brazil has failed to take an assertive position in relation to the conflict in Syria, cancelled a meeting of the UN on the standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners and demonstrated what little control is has over the trade of Brazilian arms.
To participate in the campaign “Minister, #IWantToKnow” and send questions to the foreign minister, access Conectas’ profile on Facebook or use the hashtag #QueroSaber on Twitter. The questions will be received until February 4. The website of the TV Senado television network will broadcast the hearing.
Broaden the dialogue
In its first edition, organized in April 2013, the campaign “Minister, #IWantToKnow” collected more than 30 questions for the then minister Antonio Patriota and exposed the lack of dialogue channels between the Foreign Ministry and civil society. The initiative was mentioned twice during the hearing, which ended with a promise by the minister to improve transparency and participation.
Every year, traditionally, the minister of foreign relations appears before the committee to talk about the Foreign Ministry’s general courses of action and answer questions from the senators. The hearing is an opportunity for citizen participation and serves as a reminder to the legislative branch that it also has the mandate and the legitimacy to influence foreign policy.