Brazil: Lula Takes Zero Hunger to UN

Brazil: Lula Takes Zero Hunger to UN

    Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will once again
    call for a world campaign against
    hunger. The idea was
    originally mentioned at the World Economic Forum in Davos,
    and repeated at the
    G-8 meeting in Evian. The President wants
    to get all developed nations behind his proposal now.




    President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will open the debates at the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly
    (UN). This information was provided by Brazil’s Ambassador to the UN, Ronaldo Sardenberg, who visited the Planalto Palace
    to define the participation of the Brazilian delegation at the General Assembly meeting.

    The Brazilian delegation will travel to New York on September 21-22. Sardenberg said that there is great interest on
    the part of the international community in Brazil’s participation in the conference, "especially when it comes to the program
    to combat poverty and hunger."

    According to Sardenberg, a series of presidential encounters are being negotiated. Around 90 heads of state will
    attend the UN General Assembly meeting and negotiations over the encounters are still being defined.

    In his speech at the opening of the UN General Assembly on September 23, Lula will once again call for a world
    campaign against hunger. The idea was originally mentioned at the World Economic Forum in Davos, and repeated at the G-8
    meeting in Evian. The President wants to get developed nations behind the proposal because it will have a direct benefit on poor
    nations which suffer from hunger and misery.

    In a meeting with Franciscan monks at the Palácio do Planalto, Lula said he also wanted to get religious leaders and
    their followers to join in a worldwide Zero Hunger program. "Lula said the idea was not just a political issue, but something
    people had to feel in their hearts. That was where the religion came into the picture. The President said that hunger was the
    main problem in Brazil and that when people have something to eat, other problems can be resolved," explained friar João
    Benedito Ferreira de Araújo, of Brasília.

    The meeting took place in a relaxed atmosphere and the President was blessed by friar Joachim Giermek, the head
    of an order of monks. Giermek also gave Lula a São Damião Cross, which is a symbol of church reconstruction. "The
    president is involved in the construction of Brazil and government changes in the service of the people. The São Damião Cross
    was seen as appropriate," explained friar Araújo.


    The resident representative in Brazil of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Carlos Lopes, affirmed
    that Brazil’s message at the opening of the United Nations General Assembly will serve to reaffirm the idea of
    multilateralism defended by Brazil, taking into consideration the fight against poverty, hunger, and exclusion. Lopes recalled that
    President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will be the first to speak at the meeting of the General Assembly.

    Lopes was received by President Lula to work out the details of Brazil’s participation at the General Assembly
    meeting. The PNUD representative also pointed out that President Lula should reinforce the idea of creating a fund to combat
    hunger and poverty. According to Lopes, the President intends, during his opening address, to recall the necessity of
    strengthening the role of the United Nations in the resolution of international conflicts. Lopes also observed that the unification of
    social policies in Brazil will help the country to lead in this effort to combat social exclusion.

    Brazil and the UK

    The inclusion of new permanent members on the UN Security Council, among them Brazil, as part of a UN reform,
    is now seen by the Brazilian government as an idea that has a growing international consensus. According to minister of
    Foreign Relations, Celso Amorim, the recent expression of support by England for a Brazilian presence on the council is a sign
    of that country’s willingness to work for a broad reform of the international organization. Other countries, such as France,
    Russia and Germany, have also supported permanent membership on the Security Council for Brazil.

    Following a meeting with British Foreign Minister, Jack Straw, on September
    1st, Amorim declined to comment on the announced support. "This is not an occasion for explanations. This is a time to just give thanks," said Amorim.

    After journalists insisted, Amorim affirmed that Brazil and the United Kingdom "have concepts regarding UN
    reforms that are very similar." But he added that the reforms will depend on political will. The UN reform movement has been
    underway for a decade, he said. Now it is time for leaders to exercise leadership and get it moving again, the minister explained.

    With regard to giving new members of the Security Council veto powers, Amorim admitted the issue was
    complicated. "We are realists. We know it will not be possible to take anyone’s veto away. If we try to do that, they will veto the
    reform," said the minister.

    An Example

    People are living longer in Brazil, and more Brazilians attend school, compared to 30 years ago. This is what the
    United Nations Development Program (UNDP) reveals in its 2003 Human Development Report (HDR), issued in July.

    The study compares 175 countries according to a Human Development Index (HDI). The chief criteria are
    life-span, education, and income. On the first two items, Brazil improved, making possible an upward move of 16 positions in the
    world ranking, in which Brazil now holds 65th place. Income distribution, however, remains inequitable. In the UNDP report,
    Brazil is below the world average in terms of the income equality index. The closer this index is to 1.0, the greater the
    inequality. Whereas the overall country average stands at 0.61, Brazil’s is 0.66.

    The Brazilian economy grew most between the decades of the `70’s and `80’s. During this period, known as the
    decade of the economic miracle, the country advanced 10 places, due to the per capita increase in Gross Domestic Product.
    However, the results in terms of life-span and education performed poorly during this period.

    In the `90’s Brazil grew once again, but this time what stood out was education and life-span. Between 1990 and
    2001, the adult literacy rate grew from 82 percent to 87.3 percent. During the same period, the enrollment of children between
    7 and 14 years of age in fundamental education reached 97 percent, an increase of 11 percent. Improvements also
    occurred in secondary education, which registered a 15 percent increase, attaining 71 percent. From 1999 to 2001, the enrollment
    rate, for all three levels of education in Brazil, grew from 92.9 percent to 95.1 percent.

    The reduction in child mortality also helped the country improve its HDI. The life expectation of Brazilians rose
    from 67.6 to 67.8 years. In the UNDP report, Brazil’s income index is the same as the world average and a little bit above the
    Latin American average. The country’s education index is also superior to the world average (175 countries), but in terms of
    life-span, Brazil falls below the Latin American average.

    In the study, the Zero Hunger program is singled out as an example of social policy directed towards the chief goal
    of the millennium. This denomination was established as a parameter for the reduction of global poverty. The recently
    inaugurated federal program is mentioned in the report as a positive initiative that should be encouraged and sustained, since
    the support and mobilization achieved in this kind of campaign are important for the accomplishment of the goals of the

    The Ministry of Health’s program to combat Aids is also cited as a good example in the UNDP report. In 2001
    alone, the program cared for 115 thousand patients, cutting in half the number of deaths of disease victims. The life expectancy
    of HIV virus carriers rose, too, with a reduction from 80 percent to 60 percent in the incidence of infectious diseases.
    Using this method, Brazil saved US$ 422 million, between 1997 and 1999, through reductions in hospital stays and
    medication expenses.

    The eight Development Goals of the Millennium are part of a UN millennial declaration adopted by the 189
    member-states on September 8, 2000. They are: Eradication of poverty and hunger; Universal basic education; Equality between
    the sexes and female autonomy; Reduction of child mortality; Improvement of expectant mothers’ health; the Fight against
    Aids, malaria, and other diseases; Environmental sustainability; and Environmental partnership for development.


    The material for this article was supplied by Agência Brasil (AB), the official press agency of the Brazilian
    government. Comments are welcome at  

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