U.S. Scholar and Former Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations Discusses International Human Rights in Rio de Janeiro

EB-congen-cebriBetween May 6 and 13, 2014, Dr. Esther Brimmer, J.B. & Maurice C. Shapiro Professor at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs and former Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations, visited Brazil.  On May 7, Dr. Brimmer gave a lecture on “Brazil and the U.S. in the International System” at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro’s Institute of International Relations (IRI/PUC-Rio).  Starting on May 12, Dr. Brimmer participated in a program in Rio de Janeiro sponsored by the U.S. Consulate General.

The program started with an on-the-record media roundtable at the Consulate, with journalists from the following outlets:  O GloboO Estado de São PauloFolha de São Paulo and Revista Piauí.  Dr. Brimmer discussed issues ranging from the possible reform of the United Nations Security Council to international Human Rights and the multilateralist approach that characterizes U.S. foreign policy under the Obama administration.  On May 13, O Globo newspaper published an interview with Dr. Brimmer.  The Consulate also sponsored Dr. Brimmer’s participation in a program at Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV).  Dr. Brimmer addressed the inaugural class of FGV’s MBA in International Relations, where she spoke about “U.S. Foreign Policy under the Obama Administration” to  a group of professors, researchers and students of International Relations.  FGV’s MBA class consists of professionals from the public and private sectors as well as the media, who are interested in acquiring a more in-depth understanding of international politics.

EB-fgv-ablThe cornerstone of Dr. Brimmer’s program was the seminar (May 13) and closed preparatory work meeting (May 12) “Human Rights and Democracy: A Brazil-U.S. Dialogue,” which the U.S. Consulate General organized in partnership with the Brazilian Center of International Relations (CEBRI) and the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro’s Institute of International Relations (IRI/PUC-Rio).  U.S. Consul General John Creamer and Ambassador Marcos Azambuja from CEBRI jointly opened the event.  In his remarks, Consul General Creamer recognized the important advancements that Brazil and the United States have made to promote human rights domestically, including the inclusion of Afro-descendent and native populations in the socio-economic and political process, the promotion of gender equality, the respect and protection of LGBT communities, and accessibility for people with disabilities .  According to him, “human rights violations are the main cause of conflict in today’s world.  Human rights crises demand immediate action and reflect the need for a shared vision and collective leadership by established and emerging powers.”  Consul General Creamer believes that dialogue and cooperation between Brazil and the United States in human rights has much to contribute to a broader discussion of the theme and the guarantee of fundamental rights by the international system.

Dr. Brimmer delivered the opening keynote address of the seminar, which was attended by 120 diplomats, members of Congress, state and local government officials, businesspeople, corporate executives, lawyers, academics, professors and students of International Relations and International Law, human rights activists and NGO leaders.  Other speakers included Ambassador Roberto Abdenur, House Member Alessandro Molon, Judge André Fontes, Colonel Pedro Pessôa and Maurício Santoro from Amnesty International, along with top International Relations academics and researchers, who discussed topics related to the Western vision of human rights, the United Nations’ Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine, and the debate between interference and the respect for sovereignty in situations in which major human rights violations are being committed.

In her remarks, Dr. Brimmer severely criticized the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation.  According to her, the annexation not only represents a major international human rights abuse, but even more importantly it is a violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity.  She stressed that “the annexation is a serious violation of the United Nations Charter and two major international agreements.  In the first, the Demilitarization Agreement of 1994, Ukraine, which was the third largest world nuclear power at the time, agreed to give up its nuclear weapons, in order for Russia to destroy, with the condition of retaining its territorial integrity.  And the Helsinki Final Act (1975) of the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe established that European borders as defined at the time could not be changed by military force.”

The U.S. Consulate General, CEBRI and IRI/PUC-Rio plan to publish an English-Portuguese bilingual publication of the proceedings of the seminar “Human Rights and Democracy: A Brazil-U.S. Dialogue,” in the second semester of 2014.