Building Support for Brazil's Bid at the UNSC
W. Alejandro Sanchez
April 4, 2013
Originally published: http://bit.ly/14RMUch
Brazil has taken its ambitions to become a global power to the next level. In recent years, the Portuguese-speaking giant has courted the international community to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, and it has successfully gained the support of several nations and multinational blocs. If the UNSC were reformed to include more permanent members, the natural candidate to represent Latin America and the Caribbean would be Brazil.
In addition to its economic development, powerful military, and growing influence over the past years, Brazil has carried out significant UN-related activities. For example, the country has become a de facto permanent UNSC member because it has consistently served as the principal Latin American rotating member over the past decades. Brazil is also involved in UN peacekeeping operations in Haiti (MINUSTAH), East Timor, and the maritime task force of the mission in Lebanon (UNIFIL – MTF). In October 2012, the UN and Brasilia signed a $20-million agreement that "will seek to transfer the expertise of the South American country to support cotton farmers in developing economies."
In addition, Brazilian Jose Graziano da Silva currently serves as director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Several Brazilian heads of state have declared that the UNSC should reform and that Brazil should become a new permanent member. For example, while addressing the UN General Assembly on the global financial crisis in 2011, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff called for a change within the UNSC, declaring "this crisis is too serious to be managed by a small group of countries."
Nations around the world, such as Russia and Indonesia, have also called for UNSC reform and declared their support for Brazil's bid. International organizations, such as theCommunity of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP), have also declared their support for Brasilia's UN ambitions. Regarding the United States, during a March 2011 trip to Brazil, President Barack Obama praised the country's growth and development, but stopped short of explicitly backing Brasilia's bid for a permanent seat in the UNSC.
Though there is no evidence of an EU resolution supporting Brazil's UNSC ambitions, this does not mean European countries do not support Brasilia. For example, France, an influential member of the European Union and a permanent UNSC member, has declared its support for Brazil. In a February 2011 meeting with Rousseff, the former French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said, "Brazil's request for a permanent seat should be taken into consideration, since the country plays an essential role in the international arena." Similarly, other EU members, such as the United Kingdom and Portugal (a member of the CPLP) have also backed Brazil.
A pro-Brazil EU resolution could help improve relations between Brasilia and Europe, especially regarding transatlantic trade. Brazil has a very attractive market and global players, including China, the Arab World, and Russia, want to increase economic ties with this nation. According to the European Commission, "the EU is the biggest foreign investor in Brazil with investments in many sectors of the Brazilian economy." Individual EU nations, such as the United Kingdom, France, and Poland, are also attempting to increase their ties with the South American giant, particularly in arms sales and military cooperation. The European Union and the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), which includes Brazil, are attempting to conclude negotiations on a trade pact between the two blocs. Nevertheless, it is important to note that not all EU nations are in support of Brazil's bid for permanent membership in the UNSC. Italy-Brazil relations, for example, are not ideal because of a dispute regarding the fate of the Italian fugitive Cesare Battisti.
More outspoken support for Brazil by the United States would place Washington in the uncomfortable position of having to also openly back other regional powers and US allies that have UNSC aspirations, such as South Africa, Japan, and India. Nevertheless, as Latin America enters the post-Hugo Chávez era, the United States could certainly use diplomatic initiatives, such as backing Brazil, to help improve its stance in the Western Hemisphere. During his first presidential term, Barack Obama has been accused of not having a concrete vision for Washington's role in the inter-American system during his first presidential term. Progressive initiatives, including supporting Brazil's UNSC bid or further lifting Cuban embargo restrictions, therefore, would be regarded as positive developments by Latin American governments.
An EU resolution openly backing Brazil's bid in the UNSC would help propel the debate of the UNSC's future. Moreover, given Brazil's influence, Brasilia could also encourage other prominent Latin American states, such as Mexico, Peru, or Colombia, to view trade with the European Union more optimistically. Such an EU resolution also has the additional factor of carrying little actual weight; just because the European Union supports Brazil's calls for UNSC reform, does not mean that the Security Council will reform. Nevertheless, these types of diplomatic gestures can go a long way in strengthening the transatlantic region.