Listen to article

23 September - As the world tackles multiple crises, the United Nations must be at the heart of multilateralism, Brazil's Foreign Minister told the General Assembly's annual high-level debate today.

There is an urgent need to “redefine the rules that organize international relations” as a result of food insecurity, climate change, and other massive challenges, Celso Amorim stressed today.

“As President [Luiz Inácio] Lula [da Silva] has often stated, multilateralism is the international face of democracy,” he said.

“The UN must be at the main centre of decision-making in international politics.”

But Mr. Amorim pointed out that global governance reform has yet to reach the field of international peace and security.

“In the economic and environmental areas, the wealthiest nations have already understood that they cannot do without the cooperation of emerging countries,” he said. “When it comes to war and peace, however, the traditional players are reluctant to share power.”

The Foreign Minister called for the reform and expansion of the Security Council to boost participation of developing countries, including as permanent members.

“We cannot go on with working methods which lack transparency and which allow the permanent members to discuss behind closed doors issues that concern all mankind for as long as they wish,” he said.

Brazil, the official noted, has sought to contribute to peace, citing the example of the country's efforts to resolve the issues surrounding Iran's nuclear programme.

Iran has stated that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes, but some other countries contend is driven by military ambitions. The programme has been a matter of international concern since the

discovery in 2003 that the country had concealed its nuclear activities for 18 years in breach of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The Security Council has imposed several rounds of sanctions on Iran since 2006, including a ban on all items which could contribute to the country's enrichment of uranium, a necessary step for both peaceful and militaristic uses of nuclear energy, and arms sales and a freeze on assets.

Earlier this year, Mr. Lula and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey brokered a deal under which Iran would ship its low-enriched uranium out of the country in exchange for high-enriched uranium for use at a civilian nuclear research site in its capital, Tehran.

The so-called Tehran Declaration “does not exhaust the issue,” Mr. Amorim said. “We are convinced that, once back to the negotiating table, the parties will find ways to resolve other issues.”

His address to the Assembly today also touched on human rights, the Middle East and climate change.

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who also addressed the General Assembly today, stressed the importance of the guiding principles that led to the UN's formation in 1945.

“These foundational beliefs recognize the sovereign equality of countries,” he said. “They remind us of the obligation to settle disputes peacefully. And they demand we seek justice, and uphold the human rights of all people.”

Mr. Harper noted, however, that “the gap between aspiration and achievement [is] so disappointing,” and he called on all Member States to work together to attain key global goals.

The recent financial and economic crisis was a reminder of the importance of cooperation, he added.

“We have been forcefully reminded that, in this shrinking world, we travel together in one boat, not as solo voyagers. And that how we travel together matters. Because our interests are all interconnected: from climate change to health and pandemic threats and to, of course, the global economy.”