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Brazil Votes against UN Human Rights Resolution in the Name of Austerity

03/24/2017 - 13h48

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PATRÍCIA CAMPOS MELLO
FROM SÃO PAULO

Brazil voted against a resolution proposed by the United Nations' Human Rights Council that renewing the UN's term to monitor the impact that fiscal policies have on human rights. The argument put forth is that the measure goes against the Brazilian government's economic reforms.

Brazil's vote was an abrupt change in posture, given that the country doesn't usually vote against resolutions proposed by the council, although it does occasionally abstain. Brazil supported the same resolution when it was brought forward in 2008, 2011 and 2014.

A document put forward by the council specifically criticizes the kinds of austerity measures that are being implemented by Brazil. "Structural reform programs and conditions limit government spending, impose spending caps and do not give due attention to the supply for social services, and only a few countries are capable of obtaining higher and sustainable growth rates with these sorts of programs", the document states.

Brazil's federal government got irritated at the UN in December, when the editor of the document, Philip Alston, stated that a proposal to amend the constitution, limiting government spending for the next twenty years, "is entirely incompatible with the country's duties regarding human rights".

Maria Nazareth Farani Azevedo, a Brazilian representative at the UN, justified Brazil's vote against the resolution, defending the country's austerity measures brought forward by the Temer government in a long statement while criticizing the Workers' Party's administrations.

According to Azevedo, the document addresses crucial matters in a "partial and unbalanced" manner. The ambassador complained that Cuba, who proposed the resolution, did not incorporate Brazil's suggestions.

Despite Brazilian opposition to the resolution, it was approved 31 to 16. Brazil's position also marked a departure from the countries that belong to the "geopolitical south", all of whom voted in favor of the resolution.

Brazil was aligned with countries like the USA and the United Kingdom whose representative stated that the Human Rights Council is not a suitable forum for discussing foreign debt.

"Brazil's vote was a failed attempt to undermine the UN's ability to monitor the effects that economic reform has on human rights", said Camila Asano, the coordinator of foreign policy at the Conectas NGO.

Translated by THOMAS MATHEWSON

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