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Brazil Calls For Reform of UN          02/22 06:21


   RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) -- Brazil's foreign minister called for reforms of the 
United Nations and other multilateral institutions Wednesday while criticizing 
their inability to prevent global conflicts, as his country kicked off its 
presidency of the Group of 20 nations.

   Mauro Vieira told fellow foreign ministers during opening remarks for a G20 
meeting in Rio de Janeiro that the U.N. Security Council has been unable to 
prevent or halt conflicts such as those playing out in Ukraine and the Gaza 

   "Multilateral institutions are not adequately equipped to deal with current 
challenges, as demonstrated by the unacceptable paralysis of the Security 
Council in relation to ongoing conflicts," Vieira said.

   Foreign ministers of the 20 leading rich and developing nations are 
gathering this week to discuss poverty, climate change and heightened global 
tensions, setting a roadmap for work to accomplish ahead of a Nov. 18-19 summit 
in Rio.

   One of Brazil's key proposals, set by President Luiz Incio Lula da Silva, 
is a reform of global governance institutions such as the United Nations, the 
World Trade Organization and multilateral banks, where he wants to push for 
stronger representation of developing nations.

   The leftist leader reiterated on Feb. 18 his interest in expanding the 
U.N.'s Security Council, contemplating the entry of more countries from Africa, 
Latin America, as well as India, Germany or Japan.

   "We need to add more people and end the right of veto in the U.N., because 
it is not possible for a country alone to be able to veto the approval of 
something approved by all members," Lula said while on a state visit to 

   Whether Lula's push will be successful remains to be seen, as permanent 
members of the Security Council have in the past been dismissive of attempts at 
reform that would result in a loss of their power.

   "Currently there is no momentum to reform the U.N. The U.N. is in crisis, 
and maybe transforming the Security Council now is not ideal," said Lucas 
Pereira Rezende, a political scientist at the Federal University of Minas 

   Vieira said Brazil was "deeply worried" by the proliferation of conflicts 
around the world - not just in Ukraine and Gaza, but in more than 170 
locations, according to some studies, he said.

   Vieira said more than $2 trillion a year is spent on military budgets 
globally and that more of that money should go toward development aid programs.

   "If inequalities and climate change do, in fact, constitute existential 
threats, I cannot avoid the feeling that we lack concrete actions on these 
issues," Vieira said. "These are the wars we must fight in 2024."

   Earlier Wednesday, Lula met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in 
the capital, Brasilia, for about two hours to discuss global governance and 
other issues. Blinken, who is on a three-day trip to Brazil and Argentina, 
later headed to Rio for the G20 meeting.

   The pair also discussed the conflict in Gaza, including working urgently to 
facilitate the release of all hostages and to increase humanitarian assistance 
and improve protections for Palestinian civilians, according to a statement 
from the U.S. Department of State.

   They made no public comments on the diplomatic row between key U.S. ally 
Israel and Brazil following Lula's controversial comments comparing Israel's 
military offensive in Gaza to the Holocaust.

   Speaking to reporters on Sunday at the African Union summit in Ethiopia, 
Lula said that "what is happening in the Gaza Strip and to the Palestinian 
people hasn't been seen in any other moment in history. Actually, it did when 
Hitler decided to kill the Jews."

   In response, Israel declared Lula a "persona non grata", summoned Brazil's 
ambassador to Israel and demanded an apology. In retaliation, Lula recalled 
Brazil's ambassador for consultations.

   After years of diplomatic isolation under former President Jair Bolsonaro, 
Lula has sought to reinsert Brazil on the center stage of global diplomacy 
since returning to power in January of 2023.

   G20 finance ministers and central bank presidents are set to meet next week 
in Sao Paulo, and a second meeting of foreign ministers is scheduled for 

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