It is a great honor for Itamaraty [Brazil’s foreign ministry] to welcome, once again, the President of the Republic to this ceremony marking the graduation of another group of diplomats from the Rio Branco Institute [Brazil’s diplomatic academy].
This event represents an important tradition for us. It is also an opportunity to reflect on the present and the future of our foreign policy.
The timing is even more special because this is the 70th anniversary of the creation of the Rio Branco Institute, which has always helped ensure the professionalism of our ministry. It is there that we begin to acquire the technical skills which are necessary in the pursuit of our profession and in the defense of our country’s interests abroad. And it is there that the foundations are laid for the international prestige enjoyed by Itamaraty.
The institute has represented an important step in the modernization of the Brazilian state, based on meritocracy, continuous professional training, and a sense of duty towards Brazilian society. We are still moved by the ideal of a career in government aimed at defending our country’s interests; it is that which provides the sense of mission which is shared by all Brazilian diplomats.
It is, therefore, in the context of this ceremony’s institutional and historical significance that I congratulate the graduates and their families. In 1975, 40 years ago, I myself had the privilege of participating in a similar ceremony with my colleagues from my class. We all know the difficulties and challenges that will present themselves during the career which is now commencing for you, but we also know the future holds for you the opportunity to serve Brazil, and the honor that comes with it. You will be guided by the example of the public figure, skilled negotiator and tireless servant that is the legacy of the Baron of Rio Branco.
Ladies and gentlemen,
52 years ago, also in a ceremony like this one, San Tiago Dantas said that “to develop is, always, to become free”. To become free not only in terms of our relations with other nations but also internally, here in Brazil, by means of an “open society, with equal opportunities for all and with an income distribution that ensures satisfactory levels of equality”.
The link between the domestic and foreign dimensions, between development here in Brazil and projecting influence abroad, is one of the foundation stones of a foreign policy which is committed to the society it must serve. A country determined to promote the fullest possible social, economic, political and cultural development of its people will be better able to assert itself in the world.
Social inclusion at home means a greater presence abroad.
This truth is especially evident in Brazil today. It is no coincidence that upon having become a more inclusive country, we have also increased our ability to influence the international order, thereby better reflecting the values and interests of Brazil. Foreign policy, like other areas of government policy, must serve, above all, the full development of Brazil and its people.
Based on this fundamental guidance which I receive from President Dilma Rousseff, I have sought to bring an eminently pragmatic approach to the actions of the Foreign Ministry, aimed at achieving significant and noticeable results for the country in the form of more trade, more investment, more technology. We seek opportunities and partnerships grounded in our national interests, without either exclusivism or dogmatism.
Itamaraty has also been working to maintain and increase Brazil’s ability to influence international decision-making processes that are relevant to Brazilian society. This element of our policy is growing in importance as the domestic and foreign agendas become ever more deeply interrelated.
Your recent visits, Madam President, to Mexico, the US, Belgium, Panama and Russia, and the forthcoming visits to Colombia, Sweden, Japan and Viet Nam, to mention but a few, demonstrate your direct and personal involvement in the task of giving greater concreteness and visibility to a foreign policy that is, increasingly, an element in the development of our country.
A foreign policy conceived in this way must learn how to feed off the unprecedented level of interest in international affairs that can be observed in various different sectors of Brazilian society. It should be supported effectively by public diplomacy and involve a wide range of actors: the National Congress, the various organs of government, civil society, the productive sector and the federal entities.
It is the deep connection between nation and diplomacy that allows the voice of Brazil to be heard and respected, and thus to influence how the main issues on the international agenda are dealt with. It is the connection with society that makes possible the task of ensuring Brazil has a place in the world consistent with its importance.
In this context it is natural for our foreign policy to be reformist in nature. Just as domestically Brazil has made progress in overcoming inequalities, in our foreign policy we do not accept an international order still marked by remnants of the past, which does not adequately reflect the importance of the emerging countries.
Brazil, for example, has the world’s fifth-largest population, fifth-largest territory, and seventh-largest economy. It has a diverse population and culture. It is rich in natural resources. It plays a significant role in various multilateral forums such as the UN and the World Trade Organization. We are part of political groupings which have the capacity to reform global governance, such as the BRICS, IBSA, BASIC, the G-4, and both the economic-financial and trade-related G-20s. We are a long-standing and important contributor of troops to peacekeeping operations, and alongside Japan we are the country elected most often as a non-permanent member of the Security Council.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Our demands for an inclusive international order, based on peace and shared prosperity, require of us the ability to articulate and propose a vision of the future which is as wide-ranging as possible.
In our vision of the future, the international order should be based on peace and development, with full respect for human rights. The concepts of peace and development are interdependent and mutually reinforcing. Just as there can be no true peace in the midst of exclusion, efforts to overcome exclusion are greatly facilitated by an environment of peace.
For an international system to be stable and functional, it should contribute to the sustainable development of countries. This implies, first and foremost, the reform of forums and the creation of legal frameworks and institutional structures which actively support the efforts countries themselves undertake in pursuit of pursuit of development.
In this context, the eradication of world poverty should be the main objective of the international community in the coming years – the central task within the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
Our commitment to the future requires special care with regard to the natural environment, as we demonstrated at the Rio+20 summit and will demonstrate again at the Paris Conference on Climate Change in December. We must all contribute to meeting the challenge – which all of us face – of combining economic growth, social inclusion, and respect for the environment. It is essential to do so with fairness, recognizing countries’ unequal levels of development. In the case of climate change, the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities is absolutely essential.
The pursuit of peace requires constant attention, especially in a period marked by conflicts, crises, injustices and human rights violations, often fed by poverty, weak state institutions, extremism of all kinds, and ethnic and religious hatred. Another contributing factor is how difficult it has been for the international community to act together, effectively, to assist efforts towards peace and political understanding – this is what I have referred to as the world’s “diplomacy deficit”.
It remains remarkable that, despite recent promising developments, there still persists an attitude which does not value the path of negotiation, which normalizes the use of force, and which resorts too easily to sanctions – with results that are often disastrous. Going against the lessons of recent history, influential voices in decision-making circles around the world still maintain that the correct response to violence is further violence, and that the causes of political problems can be addressed by the use of force.
Against this backdrop, the agreement on Iran’s nuclear program and the resumption of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States boost our hopes that greater value might again be attached to dialogue and diplomacy. The Brazilian government, which for years has been advocating negotiations in both cases, saluted the leaders who showed the political courage and the determination to pursue agreement.
The importance of human rights – economic, social, political and cultural – is both a prerequisite and a consequence of development and peace. It is, therefore, a constituent part of the future vision that Brazil proposes with regard to the international order.
Multilateralism is another essential feature of the international order we desire. This is based on the multipolarity which is currently emerging but also goes beyond it, given the need to develop international decision-making bodies consistent with geopolitical reality and the imperatives of our era.
There is an increasingly urgent need, therefore, for reform which will make the United Nations – now 70 years old – more representative and effective. Its Security Council, whose current composition doesn’t belong in the twenty-first century, needs to undergo structural changes so it can deal more effectively with the major challenges related to international peace and security. As President Dilma Rousseff has reiterated in the speeches at the opening of the UN General Assembly, Brazil is recognized as being able to contribute to the work of an expanded and renovated Security Council, the legitimacy of which would be reinforced by the presence of new members.
Reform of the institutions of economic-financial governance is also necessary. The international economic crisis is a warning to the effect that the developing countries need to have greater influence in the decision-making process, not least because those countries have made an important contribution to the resumption of global growth.
The recent creation of the New Development Bank and the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement, for example, is clear evidence that our vision of the future is fully achievable.
What we propose as a vision for the future already guides us in our work today, starting with the pursuit for peace.
In our region we have a long tradition of peaceful coexistence with our neighbors – which is not something we simply inherited but was instead achieved through many years of diplomatic action. Our goal is to further strengthen the mechanisms for building political consensus and the peaceful resolution of differences. A good example of this is UNASUR – an important instrument for dealing peacefully with the continent’s political problems.
Our area of the world is also, increasingly, one of sustainable development and integration, as exemplified by MERCOSUR. In our region there is a clear belief that we all have much to gain by joining forces.
Beyond our region we are dedicated to further diversifying our partnerships. We have given new impetus to the universalism that characterizes our foreign policy and makes Brazil one of the few countries in the world that can boast of maintaining relations with all the member states of the United Nations.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Itamaraty is one of the most respected institutions of the Brazilian state. Over the years our diplomatic efforts have contributed to establishing our national borders, to securing peace on our continent, and to promoting our socio-economic development.
One of the most fundamental responsibilities of our ministry is to protect Brazilian citizens abroad and to promote our economic interests internationally.
With regard to the former, we are constantly working to increase the efficiency and quality of our consular services, focusing on the protection of vulnerable groups and on the development of international norms to ensure the fundamental rights of migrants.
With regard to the promotion of our economic interests, Itamaraty has been working diligently to increase exports of Brazilian goods and services. In this year when our Trade Promotion Department celebrates its 50th birthday, it is with pride that we look upon the ministry’s long and successful experience of boosting trade and attracting investment. These are activities that create jobs in Brazil and help to expand and diversify our exports, in accordance with a foreign policy focused on our national development.
In line with this aim we attach great value to economic diplomacy, paying special attention to dynamic economies in different parts of the world. Opportunities are opening up for the negotiation of trade agreements, and advances are being made towards the establishment of agreements on cooperation and investment facilitation – modern instruments designed and fine-tuned by Brazil.
Public diplomacy has been another important area of operation for the ministry, particularly in relation to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. We have initiated a close dialogue with the international media in which we emphasize the advanced stage of the preparations for the Games and the overall quality of the project as a means of stimulating the development and urban transformation of Rio de Janeiro.
With the support of the President of the Republic, I am committed to further strengthening our ministry so as to ensure it has the human and material resources necessary to carry out its work. In this task I have been able to count upon – and will continue to count upon – the help of the Secretary-General, Ambassador Sérgio Danese, who has been tireless in maintaining a dialogue with the relevant ministries. He has also pursued dialogues within Itamaraty with a view to increasing the efficiency of our expenditure both in Brasilia and in all our posts abroad – with special emphasis on attending to the needs of Brazilian citizen, international cooperation, promoting Brazil’s culture, trade promotion, activities aimed at strengthening bilateral relations, and participation in international negotiations.
We will continue to modernize our administration system and to look after our main asset – the people who make up the Brazilian foreign service. We are determined to keep modernizing our working methods and decision-making processes. We will continue to rationalize our spending and make it more efficient – part of the broader effort being carried out by all the different sectors of the Brazilian government. We also want to bring greater predictability and stability to the way we manage resources and personnel.
We will remain attentive to the main issues relating to the career advancement and vocational training of our employees, and will maintain a constant dialogue with all the departments of the foreign service. All those who are serving Brazil here and abroad – often facing situations of adversity and personal sacrifice – will be able to rely on the support and commitment of the most senior ranks of the ministry.
Openness to dialogue is also an exhortation to remain united in defending our common interest – that of strengthening the m-inistry. It is by joining forces that we will be able to achieve the common goal of a Foreign Ministry that is more vigorous and effective in defending Brazil’s fundamental interests abroad. Cohesion is an essential component of the cement that makes the Itamaraty a solid and respected institution.
Madam President, dear graduates,
The class which has now arrived at the end of their training course is a reflection of a new Brazil and, therefore, a new Foreign Ministry. The 32 graduates come from 15 states and studied 11 different university courses in the human, exact or biological sciences. This diversity of backgrounds and training enriches and refreshes our institution.
The speaker, Secretary John Lucas Ijino Santana, has a background which reflects our new reality: he completed his university course in the interior of Bahia state; he was a beneficiary of the Affirmative Action Program in his preparations for the entrance exam for the Rio Branco Institute – which he passed with merits; and he will soon be leaving to undertake work in Haiti, one of the countries that symbolize Brazil’s efforts to promote peace and development.
We are very proud of this new ministry, which is increasingly representative of our country. We take pride in the energy and keenness of future generations to face the challenges of a diplomatic career. I am confident that you diplomats who have now completed your training will sustain that energy and keenness throughout your careers and will work on behalf of Brazil with great enthusiasm, just as your predecessors have done.
I thank Ambassador Gonçalo Mourao for his dedicated work at the helm of the Rio Branco Institute.
I also congratulate the class for your choice of patron, Professor José Paulo Tavares Kol, a man whose legacy with regard to his work is one of professionalism and love. I wish to convey to the family and friends of Professor Kol my sincere sentiments following his untimely death.
I also congratulate the graduates upon their choice of Ambassador José Alfredo Graça Lima as patron. I have known him for more than three decades and am a witness to and admirer of his great diplomatic qualities – he is one of our finest exponents in the field of economic and trade diplomacy. As a teacher at the Rio Branco Institute he has also made a great contribution to the training of new generations of diplomats and to understanding of the challenges that are inherent in the multilateral trading system and the international economy. Ambassador Graça Lima’s knowledge and great experience serve as an inspiration as we seek to further establish Brazil’s presence in the world.
To conclude, I’d like to express to the class now graduating my own personal wishes for your happiness and success.
Keep up your creative energy and your capacity to innovate, inspired by an authentic spirit of public service. You are the future of the Foreign Ministry and will play an important role in carrying out a foreign policy which is always focused on defending the interests of our country.
Joao Augusto de Araujo Castro, a former Foreign Minister who died almost 40 years ago, reminds us that we cannot afford apathy or indifference, and that “in any future world order, Brazil will have to claim the place which corresponds to its immense potential”.
To believe in the future of Brazil is the duty of all of us as diplomats. To live and to shape that future is a privilege that you, young graduates, will enjoy.
I have no doubt you will be dedicated to the lifelong venture of helping to achieve a Brazil that is ever more just, ever more prosperous, and ever more respected among nations.
I thank, once again, Madam President of the Republic far having paid us the honour of presiding over this ceremony.
Thank you very much.