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Cooperation and a Harmonious World: Advances for the Human Rights
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Cooperation and a Harmonious World: Advances for the Human Rights

By Murilo Vieira Komniski1

It is an important challenge to outline some comments on the theme of international cooperation and, in the extent of the construction of a more harmonious world, the potential interactions of both government and civil society, at a national and international level, making ways for advances in the area of human rights.

Undoubtedly, it is not possible, in this text, to properly analyze the theory on the theme of international cooperation. But two renowned thinkers on theory of international relations, Robert Axelrod and Robert Keohane2, among others, would deserve the full attention of readers interested in the theme. Authors that could be included in the chain called "Neoliberal Institutionalism", Axelrod and Keohane assume that, as the "Realists" would say, States are rational actors, self-interested and looking for power in the international scenario. Nevertheless, the perception on the part of the decision-makers in foreign policy that the counterparts shall engage in accomplishing the cooperation commitment, in other words, under a political relationship ruled by trust, cooperation is something that can be achieved in the global context. It does not mean to say that cooperation will be an easy process. To reach cooperation is something difficult in global politics. Cooperation is not the same as harmony; rather, it is a built process that concerns situations in which one can find a mixture of complementary and conflicting interests.

We are living a kind of global dilemma3. On one hand, the United States of America, like any other power that intends to be hegemonic, should seek for recognition and legitimacy. On the other hand, mainly since 2001, there are examples of actions with a strong degree of unilateralism on the part of the USA: refusal of adhering to the International Criminal Treaty; the denouncement of the Anti-ballistic (ABM) Agreement, the refusal in ratifying the Protocol of Kyoto on climatic changes, the declarations and that the USA will act unilaterally and preventively whenever it figures that there is some risk to its safety and interests. However, a point calls attention. The USA has repeatedly affirmed that the war in Iraq, since March of 2003, is of a "coalition." It would not be, therefore, in the USA view, an isolated and unilateral action, in an age where one could glimpse a space of political-diplomatic action with some margin to maneuver.

The starting point of this analysis takes into account, therefore, the perception that we live a moment that, despite the global dilemma, is also marked by an effort of international solidarity, the moment that points out a trend towards international cooperation, above all in what regards strengthening themes and proposals such as, among others, the Human Rights, Millennium Development Goals; restructuring of the Organization of the African Union, with the establishment, since 2001, of the African Union (AU), having as a guideline, the New Partnership for the Development of Africa (NEPAD); G-20 (in the field of commercial negotiations, as well as in the clear impacts of these negotiations for the sustainable development and a new geography of international trade in a way to reduce the asymmetries of power); the new momentum, seen as a window of opportunity, for the reform / invigoration of the United Nations (with special attention to the efforts for a ?Security Council which is more representative and suitable to the current international reality and for the recently-created UN Human Rights council); the communion of interests are among several developed and developing countries towards invigorating multilateral institutions and "standardizing" international relationships (UN, WTO, International Criminal Court); closer relationships among developing countries, like the example of the recently assembled "Forum of Dialogue India, Brazil and South Africa", (IBSA) in the political-diplomatic dialogue and technical cooperation; the recently approved fund IBSA that Fight Hunger and Poverty, in partnership with UNDP; the largest campaign to Combat Hunger and Poverty (headed not only by Brazil ¨C a Southern developing country - but by a large number of governments and non-governmental organizations that transcend the South-south axis and point out a possible interaction among developed countries, such as France and Spain, and developing countries).

Therefore, the perspective of the South-south relationships and cooperation takes place not as an excluding, combative axis, of defying the rich nations of the North. It does not stand for a division between the North and South, but as a cooperation movement among developing nations that aims at strengthening the existing links and maintaining and advancing the dialogue and, of course, negotiations and diplomatic arrangements with the developed countries. I would dare to say that we are going through times of affirmation in the theory, or better still, of intellectuals' manifest like Edward Said4, since it does not advocate for the politics of South-south relationships as a mere denunciation against the asymmetries of international relations, but as a development strategy and of emancipation in the dialogue with the North. For example, NEPAD5, recognizing that the African countries should, for themselves, set their priority areas for development in projects in partnership with and the financial support of nations of the North. In the same sense, the international engagement in the Fight Against Hunger and Poverty: a campaign launched initially in 2003 by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, initially supported by Chile, France and Spain, and that, later, through the 59th UN General Assembly, in September of 2004, started resting on the support of several developing countries.

A great number of Heads of State and/or of Government attended the Meeting of World Leaders for Action against Hunger and Poverty6, held at the UN on September 20th, 2004. A broad range of countries have supported the declaration of New York, among them, South Africa, Germany, Brazil, China, Egypt, Spain, France, India and the United Kingdom.

Opportunities for International Action

The IBSA fund (India, Brazil and South Africa) is outstanding. It was established within the scope of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) with the objective of financing projects that reproduce, in poorer countries, successful programs in the social area. An unprecedented experience of South-south cooperation, whose first project is being implemented in Guinea-Bissau, the fund can benefit projects in other African countries and other regions, as in the case of Haiti. In fact, the action among IBSA, PNUD and NGO's with experience in social areas will be very positive. Brazil wants to enlarge its cooperation program with Haiti and, for that, sent 24 technicians to Port-au-Prince. The European Union has 300 million euros to use in Haiti, but there is lack of consistent projects. Most likely, emphasis should be attached to familiar agriculture; constructing hospitals and schools; and to projects of basic sanitation.

Not less important, these social themes, with emphasis on public policies in the social area, have been in the agenda of the integration / cooperation processes like that of Mercosul and of the South American scenario, like the establishment of the South American Community of Nations, to the Meeting of Presidents of South America, in Cuzco, on December 8th, 2004. In the same sense, they are in the agenda of the Community of Portuguese speaking Countries. On December 17th, 2004, in Ouro Preto, in the Summit of Mercosul, the Presidents, as expressed in the joint declaration, "... support the contacts maintained with the countries relatively less developed of the Community of Portuguese speaking Countries, namely: Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Sao Tome and Principe and Timor-east, with views to conclude a Trade Framework Agreement, whose projects were already approved by MERCOSUL Member Countries. They also support the initiative of providing technical consultancy services and training to those countries, and UNCTAD and the CPLP Secretariat have showed interest in participating…"7.

In what regards Brazil, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, in his inauguration speech in January of 20038, emphasized the priority that his government would place, in the scenario of foreign policy, to South-south relationships, be it getting closer to South America, be it with Africa and with Asia. This approximation is not only at State level. The networking is also expanded among non-governmental organizations, companies, academic centers, research centers and cultural means in such regions. In fact, this strengthening of relationship is not a day-to-night process, but some effects can already be perceived and, if the foreign policy trends remain the same, it would nourish a virtuous circle. An example of this would be the significant increase and diversification of commercial relationships with developing countries (average growth of 100% between 2003 and 2004, with African countries9).

We are now living a moment of great debate in the Brazilian society, whose redemocratization process has been following the historical tendency in the last 20 years of the Latin America as a whole, as well as in Africa and in Asia where, despite chronic budgetary constraints, the human rights-related themes in general, as a transversal theme to several ministries and to the Millennium Goals10 (Eradication of Extreme Poverty and of Hunger; Universal education; Equality of Gender; Reduction of Child Mortality; Maternal health: Combat of Aids, Malaria and other Diseases; Sustainable Environmental Development; Global partnership for Development) are present as much in the national agenda as in the international agenda of public policies.

In these years of redemocratization, a fundamental characteristic of the consolidation of the Democratic State of Right has been the intensive dialogue with civil society. One could say that there has been an increasing structural change in decision-making spheres of the Brazilian Government. Government extracts its legitimacy, to a great extent, from its relationship with social movements. A living example of the civil society's deep articulation, the World Social Forum has been prioritizing proposals as micro-credit, support to familiar agriculture, respect to environment, disarmament, peace, local and sustainable development, human rights. Moreover, it has actively participated in the debates of this true case of resonance of social movements all over the world.

More specifically in relation to the current Brazilian foreign policy, a good example of successful interaction between the State and civil society was the "Forum Brazil-Africa: Policies, Cooperation and Trade"11, held in Fortaleza, in June 2003. It would not be an exaggeration to affirm that the Brazil-Africa Forum stood for a moment of confluence between government and society, applied to the relationships with Africa. Open to the Brazilian and African countries¡¯ civil society, it aimed at updating the Brazilian foreign policy, to gather elements for the formulation and promotion of a contemporaneous foreign policy regarding Africa. That means that they are not only pursuing economic-commercial relationships, but also trying to strengthen and improve the articulation of political and cooperation links. That policy of approximating to Africa and strengthening the South-south relationships, in a general way, is in tune with the emphasis that Brazil places on its social agenda: health, education, environment and in human rights, with high potential of cooperation. Brazil's knowledge in such fields is very pertinent, mainly because it can be applied to the African conditions and needs, and is in compliance to the international legal framework.

In fact, solidarity is present in Brazil's effort towards approximating to the African countries. President Lula, when decided to place priority on retaking relationships with Africa, established a foreign policy that goes beyond the commercial interest which is undoubtedly very important when associated to solidarity-based policies that place emphasis on South-south cooperation. In that sense, is remarkable the symbol of actively retaking the cultural and historical inheritance of Brazil with Africa, through affirmative actions: cooperation, humanitarian action, emphasis on social agenda. In what concerns the Brazilian foreign policy, the Brazil-Africa Forum scope is even broader, inserted in a process of retaking the emphasis on South-south relationships: the creation of the G-20; the initiative of the India-Brazil-South Africa Dialogue Forum (IBSA) or even the forthcoming Summit Conference among South American and Arabic Countries, scheduled for May 2005, in Brazil. For the last case, we should keep in mind that of the 22 Arabic countries that participated, 10 are African ones. The Conference approached themes of utmost relevance for that continent, as is the case of the water resources and the semi-arid region issue. Certainly, the political "bet" about the current moment of international relations points out a rearrangement in the power correlation among negotiating processes, as well as better access to markets and an international scenario trending to a multi-pole power system.

An emphatic example of the current moment that Brazilian foreign policy is living can be observed in the increasing consolidation of an organization like the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries, whose works have greatly rested on the participation, at different levels, of segments, whether governmental and non-governmental ones. Particularly, the National Congress has been lending extraordinary support to the action that, bilaterally or through the CPLP, Brazil has been developing in terms of cooperation with the Portuguese Speaking African Countries (PALOP): the annual average initial budget allotted specifically to cooperation actions with Portuguese Speaking countries is about R$ 7 million. But, naturally, the Brazilian foreign policy of approximation to the African countries is not restricted to PALOP. It approaches, in a much broader way, the entire African continent.

With headquarters in Lisbon, constituted on July 17th, 1996, the Community of the Portuguese Speaking Countries12, in its Statute, Article 3, defines as its objectives: (i) political-diplomatic harmonization; (ii) cooperation, above all in the economic, social, cultural, legal and technical-scientific fields; (iii) promotion and diffusion of the Portuguese language. These objectives constitute the "tripod" of the CPSC work.

South-south Cooperation

As for the theme of the South-south cooperation in a broader sense, special attention should be placed to the High-Level Conference of G-77 about South-South13 Cooperation, held in Marrakech, 16-19 December, 2003, and that strengthened its guidelines also in the XI UNCTAD Conference, in June 2004, in Sao Paulo.

In the official opening of the High Level Conference of G-77 about South-South Cooperation, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Morocco emphasized the importance of promoting peace, deepening the South-south relationships, establishing and consolidating regional and sub-regional groups for the expansion of markets and the invigoration of the developing countries' negotiation power. He pointed out his Government's desire to foment the role of the Magreb as a bridge between the European Union and Sub-Sahara Africa. In the same sense, the UN Undersecretary-General for Economical and Social Affairs, Jose Antnio Ocampo, representing Mr. Kofi Annan, UN General Secretary, delivered a speech putting emphasis on the South-south cooperation, especially in the areas of technical cooperation, trade, external debt etc. In that context, he mentioned G-20 as an important example of the union of the South countries to advocate for their interests.

The General Secretary of UNCTAD14, Ambassador Rubens Ricupero, pointed out the importance of commercial themes for development, the eradication of poverty and the reaching of the Millennium Development Goals. In what concerns Goal 8, regarding the developed countries, it was observed that the only area that has negotiations underway is that of trade. Ambassador Ricupero referred to the role of G-77 as an important actor for retaking the indispensable spur to redirect the commercial negotiations to a safer although longer path. He mentioned, equally, the importance of initiatives by the developing towards imposing their interests in the trade negotiations, mentioning the G-20.

According to Mr. Ricupero the prosperity and the high rates of economical growth in China and the Asian and Pacific countries have allowed for increasing mutual investments and reduced the vulnerability of those countries after the Asian Crisis. In this context, he foresaw that an expanded growth of Africa and the Latin America should double the trade and demand for imports and investments among developing countries in the forthcoming years.

Moreover, the representatives of Qatar, Algeria, United Arab Emirates, El Salvador, Cape Verde, Mozambique, the UN Sub-secretary-General for Countries of Less Relative Development, Tunisia, Ghana, China, Bahrain, Cuba, Nicaragua, Kenya and Brazil, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Chile, Equatorial Guinea, Korea, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Venezuela, Argentina, Egypt, Singapore, Tanzania, Namibia, Rwanda, Bangladesh, Cameroon, UNICEF, UNITED, IAEA and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of G-77 have also spoken.

During the Conference, was held a Special Meeting on the "Experiences and Histories of Success in the South-south cooperation." Several delegations, previously enrolled in New York, could report the successful experiences of their countries in the field of horizontal cooperation. Among them, China, Brazil, Venezuela, Morocco and Costa Rica reported a wide portfolio of initiatives and cooperation actions, in different sectors and countries.

In his presentation, the representative of China approached the priority his country places on the African continent, with special emphasis on the Forum about China-Africa Cooperation. He mentioned the relevant increase in the volume of resources allotted to cooperation actions that reached about US$13 billion only in 2003. That is an evidence not only of the Chinese potential in what regards bilateral cooperation, but also the possibilities in terms of triangular cooperation. In that aspect, Brazil, both at governmental and non-governmental level, could benefit since it is more capable of providing cooperation in regions like the Portuguese Speaking Africa.

He also stressed that, during the second Inter-Ministerial China-Africa Forum, held in the same month of December 2003, the Chinese Government reaffirmed the commitment towards the African development, and presented priority action areas: (i) reduction of commercial tariffs by half to motivate exports of African countries to China; (ii) increase of financial contribution for the "African Fund of Human Resources Development", (iii) establishment of cooperation in the field of tourism, with emphasis on the destination of Chinese nationals to Mauritius Islands, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Seychelles, Tunisia and Zambia; (iv) invigoration of links and exchange, for example the China-Africa's Youth Meeting and the Cultural Meeting of Peking, both in 2004. Still in the field of tourism, as well as in what concerns the African countries' exports, the Chinese representative mentioned the great potential of China's consuming market.

As for Brazil, are outstanding the ongoing cooperation experiences with Africa in South America, Central America, the Caribbean and Timor-east. Among others, I expressly refer to projects of great impact, like those dealing with HIV / AIDS, in the field of health; the Bolsa Escola program in the field of education; programs developed in the field of professional qualification, notably the Centers established jointly with SENAI, in Angola, "Kasenga", Paraguay, Timor-east and San Tome and Prince. On the other hand, generally speaking, the expectation is evident, especially of the non-Portuguese Speaking African countries, that Brazil can extend and diversify its cooperation beyond the already traditional partners. Among these countries, Namibia, Nigeria, Kenya and Togo expressed interest in counting with the Brazilian cooperation.

In South America, Venezuela also reports cooperation experiences as part of the solidarity ethics to the countries of the South. It refers to the priority placed to actions it develops in the Caribbean, where it maintains embassies in all capitals, besides providing centers of Spanish language studies in several countries in the region. The Venezuelan Government pays special attention to the African countries within the scope of their South-south cooperation policies. Two fields of Venezuelan cooperation, both provided and receive, deserve special attention, mainly the experiences concerning cooperation received from Brazil, Cuba and China. The Venezuelan representation emphasized the existence of the "Special Fund to the Caribbean" and of the "Special Fund for Natural Catastrophes", oriented to develop actions for observation and control of damages caused by natural disasters. The representative also referred to San Jose's and Caracas' Agreements, whereby Venezuela funds part of the petrol bill of the Caribbean and Central America countries, in the medium and long runs and with low interest rates.

Tanzania called the attention for the issue of opening markets, growth in regional trade and technology transfer among developing countries, as form of balancing the trade among developing countries. The delegation mentioned that the Sub-Sahara Africa is the region more intensively affected by HIV/AIDS all over the world, and urged the developing countries that produce antiretroviral generic drugs to provide assistance to the others, by furnishing medications at affordable prices and establishing, in the affected countries, units of production of those products.

Egypt, Chile and Argentina talked about their respective experiences regarding triangular cooperation, mainly in what concerns Japan and Spain. Finally, in pronouncements made in the closing of the Conference General Debate, Venezuela, Qatar and South Africa presented documents about their respective regional meetings. In Presiding Officer's opinion, the interventions were of utmost relevance to the Conference objectives, and should result in the approval of a Declaration of political nature and an Action Plan, with goals to be achieved in the forthcoming years.

Likely paths for a New Consensus

It is important to pay attention to the guidelines set forth in the Report "A safer world: our ?common responsibility" (December of 2004) of the "High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change" summoned by the United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, composed of sixteen experts, including Ambassador Joao Clemente Baena Soares, from Brazil15.

In the search for a new possible consensus on safety, the report provides three fundamental contributions: (i) a diagnosis of the main contemporaneous threats to safety; (ii) proposals for updating the collective safety's system to face those threats and (iii) proposal of institutional changes, mainly concerning the UN reform, to support a new system of collective safety. In total, the report contains 101 recommendations. The diagnosis of threats is based on the principle that international safety is threatened not just by wars among States (the classic threat that motivated the UN foundation), but also by a series of complex processes, both transnational and internal to each State. The new threats cannot be controlled by any State isolated but, even more than in 1945, they require for a collective response.

Finally, the Panel recognizes the existence of divergent perceptions regarding the threats, particularly between North and South, ensuing from differences in power, wealth and geography. Therefore, it suggests a mutual recognition among developed and developing countries and different civilizations, of the threats that each of them deem as crucial. Certainly the strengthened South-South relationships and cooperation play a crucial role in that context.

In short, in spite of the risks of retreat in the last few years, the path of multilateralism, South-south cooperation, as well as of intensifying regional integration processes, points out a promising way to promote human rights and constructing a world more harmonious, based on solidarity.

1 International Advisor to the Special Secretariat of Human Rights, Presidency of the Republic, Federative Republic of Brazil. Diplomat and M.Phil. in Diplomacy at the Rio Branco Institute. The opinions state herein are exclusively the author's personal opinions.

2 Axelrod, Robert. and Keohane, Robert, "Achieving Cooperation Under Anarchy: strategies and institutions", in Baldwin, D.A. (ed.), Neorealism and Neoliberalism - The Contemporary Debate, Columbia University Press, New York, 1993.

3 Bandeira, Luiz Alberto Moniz, Brasil, Argentina e Estados Unidos - Conflito e integracao na America do Sul (Da Triplice Alianca ao Mercosul 1870 - 2003), Rio de Janeiro, Revan, 2nd edition, September 2003. Forewords by Samuel Pinheiro Guimaraes.

4 Said, Edward. Orientalismo. Sao Paulo, Cia das Letras, 1990. Representations of the intellectual. New York, Vindagebo Books, 1994.


6 (Temas da Agenda Internacional - Acao contra a Fome e a Pobreza)

7 - Note # 603 - 17/12/2004 ¨C Distribution 22 and 23 - Comunicado Conjunto dos Presidentes dos Estados Partes do Mercosul


9 Data from the Trade Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Brazil.






15 The Panel met six times during 2004 and the report, called "A safer world: our ?common responsibility" was published on December 2, 2004:



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