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Date : April 8, 2015
Brazil and dialogue with countries that recurrently violate fundamental human rights
Uziel Santana
President of National Association of Evangelicals Jurists – Brazil, 
Professor of Universidade Federal de Sergipe

Brazil and dialogue with countries that recurrently violate fundamental human rights: experiences, challenges and proposals for the case of North Korea.


In the last 15 years, it is a fact that Brazil has become a country, in the international concert of the nations, with a greater political and economical protagonism, exercising a leadership role that is not limited to South America alone. The active participation of Brazil in multilateral coalizations with emerging countries like IBSA (India, Brazil and South Africa) and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) has legitimated it to pleads international positions of leadership in a lot of areas, not only in economy but also in the human rights area itself, as happened in the last week, during the 28th session of the U.N. Human Rights Council, when Brazil was the leader in the process of resolution which determined that human rights bodies should actively participate  in the global process on drugs that will take place in 2016 during the Special Session of U.N. General Assembly (SSUNGA). In the same way, also during  the last session of the U.N. Human Rights Council Brazil was a leader in the process that culminated in the adoption of the resolution providing for the establishment of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy, which will monitor, investigate and report on topics of privacy and violations of law throughout the world, including the challenges posed by the digital age and new technologies. These are just two examples of the central role that Brazil has played internationally on issues that are not limited only to the economy but also with regard to human rights.

It should be also noted that in the strictly political level in Latin America, Brazil has been one of the main leaders, and right now, with the death of former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and the political decay of Cristina Kchiner in Argentina, leader of the region. In UNASUR – Union of South America Nations -, in the multi and bilateral relations with countries in Central America and in the called Sao Paulo Forum (an organization formed by the left parties that currently govern the majority of Latin American countries) Brazil has effectively given the cards, both in the establishment of policies for the economy, and for human rights. In fact, it is from such leadership, and because at the moment Brazil is ruled by a leftist party that does not accept US leadership, that bilateral relations of my country with more ideologically aligned countries with it, such as the Iran, Cuba and North Korea have been easier. Despite the harsh criticism that can make this alignment and collusion with certain violations and crimes against humanity taking place in the latter three countries, I believe strongly that we can take advantage of this narrowing of bilateral relations between Brazil and they - especially in the case of our work here on North Korea - to fight for the implementation of our human rights agenda from Brazil, especially with regard to the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry Report on North Korea in 2014.

The Federal Constitution of Brazil states that even in the field of international relations, my country is constitutionally obliged to respect and fight for the "prevalence of human rights". Thus, ANAJURE - National Association of Evangelicals Jurists - has worked with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brazil for such principle be actually observed, in particular in the case of North Korea and Cuba.

In recent years, the ANAJURE has been invited to participate in movements of two specific themes of the human rights agenda, namely, religious freedom and the acceptance and advocacy of refugees under the 1951 Convention. One of the main reasons for our engagement is the fact that when a cause of particular religious persecution, Brazil is called to act diplomatically with a country like Iran, Cuba, Pakistan, our political force and diplomatic is much higher than any European or US country. That's because we do not have on us the hints of imperialism and American and European colonialism. As an example of this, recently, my organization worked on a case of a family who had been convicted of the crime of blasphemy in Pakistan. They escaped to Sri Lanka, but for not having residence visa and residence were detained by immigration. We were then driven and then started working in the case of this family with the Brazilian Government, through the Presidency of the Republic General Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Brazil negotiated for 3 months with Sri Lanka and Pakistan and finally the family was released to travel to Brazil, where they live today and were welcomed as refugees. The result of this work has shown that Brazil actually has a very strong political weight in bilateral relations or even in not very institutionalized the emerging movements. We need to take this in the case of North Korea because Brazil is one of the only countries that dialogue with countries that have serious human rights violations.

Notice that this simple example occurred because it is a constitutional directive mandatory that internationally Brazil must comply with the constitutional principle of the primacy of human rights. ANAJURE made her pressure role with the Government and the Government through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded affirmatively. Of course, Pakistan and Sri Lanka achieved an agreement with Brazil because today they are countries that have ideologically aligned governments.

Still on preterit experiences of Brazil's participation in situations involving human rights, for me it is increasingly clear that there are more effective and resolutions for the international protection of human rights, when Brazil establishes the bilaterally or even dialogue in spaces called collective like BRICS, IBSA, UNASUR. The problem here is that there is no uniformity or systematic in Brazil’s pattern of decisions in favor of human rights. In this sense, for example, when President Dilma Rousseff, the last visit she made to Cuba - a country that deeply violates human rights - was charged for not having discussed the situation of political prisoners in that country, she defended herself by saying that, in matters human rights, Brazil prefers to act in multilateral mechanisms. Furthermore, in the context of multilateral organizations in Latin America, as the very OAS (Organization of American States), Brazil has never been, in recent years, an important leader who pointed errors and violations in Cuba. It highlights a great contradiction. This is even one of the topics that will govern the next review of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Brazil in 2016 with the United Nations Human Rights Council.

In the case of North Korea, as you know, for years the violations of human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) are the subject of international concern, so that from the former UN Commission on Human Rights and the current Human Rights Council adopted several resolutions since 2003 expressing concern about the human rights situation there. By 2008, Brazil voted in favor of a number of decisions about the country, but from there, my country abstained in the UN General Assembly, repeating its position in the following year, both at the UN General Assembly as the HRC, to our sorrow. Several human rights groups in Brazil lobbied the Brazilian government about it - especially CONECTAS, which also triggered the Federal Public Ministry in this direction - so that from 2010 Brazil returned to its favorable position on the resolutions against what occurs in North Korea. The justification of the Brazilian Government was to the effect that the country believed in creating a political and diplomatic environment able to allow North Korea to voluntarily express its commitment to human rights and cooperate with the UN. But North Korea refused to accept all the recommendations received by the UN UPR mechanism that year, including those made by Brazil.

In any case, the favorable position of Brazil, last year, trough the resolution condemning the abuses committed by the government of North Korea and that requested that violations to be tried by the International Criminal Court is something historic and important. And this is clear in the declaration itself of the deputy ambassador of the country to the UN, Guilherme Patriota, who at the time said: "Brazil recognizes the progress made by the Democratic Republic of Korea, but there is still much room for improvement. Brazil remains deeply concerned about the findings of this report and others."


As next steps for which Brazil to a protagonist in the issue of North Korea, we propose as a list of ANAJURE and ICNK tasks:

1) In view of the participation of Brazilian parliamentarians in the creation of the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Religious Freedom, we understand that it is crucial the involvement of parliamentarians in South Korea at this international movement to work on issues of human rights violations in North Korea.

2) ANAJURE aims to pressure the Brazilian Government to this in their bilateral relationship with North Korea may require of them compliance with the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry of the Council of the UN Human Rights Report

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