At UN, Lula calls for international action to combat hunger and preaches peace with social justice

23/09/2003 - 13h57

New York, September 23, 2003 (Agência Brasil - ABr) - In his opening address at the 58th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva called for improvements in the UN multilateral system, a necessary counterpart to democratic coexistence within nations. "Every nation committed to democracy in the domestic sphere should take care to ensure that decision-making processes are transparent, legitimate, and representative in the international sphere as well," he said.

According to the President, the tragedies of Iraq and the Middle East will only be resolved in a multilateral framework, especially with the UN playing a central role. "We cannot evade our collective responsibilities. One can win a war alone. But one cannot build a lasting peace without everybody's cooperation," he pointed out.

With respect to the desire to adopt more effective ways to combat terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and organized crime, the President of Brazil affirmed that this is commendable, but, in his view, the UN was not created to remove the debris left over from conflicts it could not avoid, however valuable its humanitarian work may be. "Our main task is to save nations from the scourge of war. We cannot put more faith in military action than in the institutions we created with a vision of history and the light of reason," Lula said.

As regards reforming the United Nations, President Lula said that this question has become imperative in face of the risk of regression in the international political order. "The Security Council has to be fully equipped to confront crises and deal with threats to peace. This requires that it be endowed with effective means of action," he added.

President Lula also paid homage to Ambassador Sérgio Vieira de Mello and the other UN representatives who died in the attack on the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, in Iraq, last month. He said that the best way to honor these victims is to redouble the defense of human dignity, wherever it is menaced.

In another part of his speech, the President of Brazil once again criticized the rich countries for the barriers they impose on the poor countries. With respect to the campaign against hunger and extreme hunger, President Lula said that this is the only war that everyone can win. "Hunger is an emergency, and it should be treated as such. Its erradication is a civilizing task that demands a short-cut to the future. Let us act to put an end to hunger, or shall we destroy our credibility through omission? The true path to peace is the relentless war against hunger and extreme hunger, in a campaign of solidarity capable of uniting the planet," Lula emphasized.

The President concluded his address in the UN plenary session by insisting that the greatest challenge to humanity and, at the same time, the most beautiful, is precisely that of becoming more human. "It is time to call peace by its first name, social justice," he concluded. (DAS)