Lula da Silva opened the UN General Assembly and spoke about inequality and hunger. Fourteen years after the last time and twenty years after the first, the president of Brazil also spoke there about the climate crisis, the arrival of the extreme right and the institute’s Security Council.
“Hunger, the central theme of my speech to this World Parliament twenty years ago, today affects 735 million people, who go to sleep tonight without knowing whether they will have anything to eat tomorrow.”
“But I return to say, as I said in 2003, that I maintain my unwavering faith in humanity. At the time, the world had not yet realized the severity of the climate crisis. Today it knocks at our door, destroys our homes, our cities, our countries, kills and imposes losses and suffering on our brothers, especially the poorest.”
“Action against climate change means thinking about tomorrow and confronting historical inequalities,” Lula continued. “Rich countries grew up on a model with high emissions of gases that harm the climate. The climate emergency makes it urgent to correct course and implement what has already been agreed.”
“The richest 10% of the world’s population are responsible for almost half of all carbon released into the atmosphere. We, developing countries, do not want to repeat this model,” he emphasized.
“In Brazil, we are committed to implementing all 17 Sustainable Development Goals in an integrated and indivisible way. We want to achieve racial equality in Brazilian society through an 18th goal, which we will adopt voluntarily,” he promised.
Concluding the climate portion of the speech, he said Brazil has reduced deforestation by 48% this year. “A lot of people talk about the Amazon, now the Amazon speaks for itself.”
In politics, Lula criticized “the adventurers of the far right”. “Amid the rubble of neoliberalism, far-right adventurers emerge to deny politics and sell solutions that are as easy as they are wrong (…) We must save the best humanist traditions that inspired the creation of the UN. “
However, the UN was the target of criticism: “The UN Security Council is gradually losing its credibility. Its paralysis is the most eloquent proof of the need and urgency to reform the Council, giving it greater representation and effectiveness.”
In conclusion, he stated that “Brazil is back to make its contribution to tackling the most important global problems”.
Why does Brazil open meetings?
Lula was the first to speak because it is UN tradition for Brazil to open official speeches immediately after the Secretary General, in this case António Guterres.
Officially, there is no formal reason for the privilege. Unofficially it is thought to be a way of recognizing the role played by Brazilian Oswaldo Aranha, responsible for chairing the first UN General Assembly in 1947, and also the second regular meeting, which took place the same year . These two meetings were responsible for determining the division of Palestine between Arabs and Jews, and paved the way for the establishment of the State of Israel.
Lula’s entourage includes the Minister of the Environment, Marina Silva, the Minister of Indigenous Peoples, Sonia Guajajara, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mauro Vieira, and the heads of the Brazilian legislature, the Speaker of the House, Arthur Lira , and the President of the Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco.