Minister of Foreign Relations Celso Lafer
Article in the Folha de São Paulo Newspaper
"Firm and Clear"
September 27, 2001

The terrorist attacks of 11 September hit targets in the United States, but their impact is global. The entire world witnessed those dramatic and extraordinary events and is still on the alert for their many consequences. The simultaneous demonstrations of solidarity to the victims and disgust at terrorism know no precedents in history. As Kofi Annan, secretary-general of the United Nations, has put it, perhaps the world had never been as united as on that terrible day.

There are Brazilian citizens among the thousands of innocent dead and injured. This is a pain that brings the tragedy even closer to our midst, a loss that Brazil shares with over 90 countries. In the face of the dimension of what happened, we could not possibly take an indifferent and passive stance. Especially because repudiation of terrorism, just like repudiation of racism, is enshrined in our Constitution as one of the principles on which Brazil's international relations are based. Consistent with this precept, our diplomatic action is based on the fundamental values of nationality and the defense of national interests.

The Brazilian initiative in convoking TIAR (the Inter-American Treaty on Reciprocal Aid), which had the general support of the other countries in the hemisphere, was in response to the conviction that it was necessary to complement, on the regional level, the intense international mobilization that came in the wake of the attacks. The United Nations, through specific resolutions, had already manifested itself. As had regional organizations from other parts of the world. The voice of the countries of America needed to be heard in all its seriousness, clarity and united sense of purpose.

TIAR, signed in Rio de Janeiro in 1947, is the instrument for collective security available to our geographic space. The five decades and more that have elapsed since it was drawn up have left their marks but this has not rendered the Treaty invalid. As San Tiago Dantas taught us, the proof of the vitality of the inter-American system lies in its "capacity to settle and overcome problems by means of constructive solutions in which one can feel the presence of a communion of ideas and a joining of forces to reach an objective that is sought by all."

On Friday, 21 September, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Americas held two consecutive meetings in Washington. The first was to consult the terms of the Charter of the Organization of America States in order to organize concerted action in the face of the attack. The next meeting was as a consultative body of TIAR in order to formalize the general understanding that the terrorist attacks suffered by the United States should be considered attacks against all the American States, and to put in place the corresponding mechanisms of reciprocal aid.

Let it be made quite clear: there is no commitment regarding deployment of troops. TIAR stipulates that no State will be obliged to use its Armed Forces, which can only be called on by a sovereign decision of each particular country.

The pledge made by the American countries in Washington is to seek amongst their available means and capacity the best way to contribute to our common struggle against terrorism, the people responsible for it, and those who gave them shelter and support.

The greater objective is to preserve the Americas as an area of peace and security. In any circumstance, Brazil will acknowledge the need for strict obedience of international law and values that are the foundations of the inter-American system: democracy, diversity, tolerance, repudiation of racism and xenophobia and respect for individual freedom.

The world of globalization is a world of networks. There are networks for good and networks for evil. Among the latter are to be found those of terrorism, organized crime, money laundering and arms smuggling. In a most painful way, 11 September was a day that showed the whole world the true dimensions of the damage that the networks of evil can cause, and that no country in the world remains immune to the ramifications of this evil. In order to combat the transnational crime networks such as the drug trade, which so deeply affects the daily security of Brazilian citizens, we must put to more effective use the various international and regional networks of cooperation.

The unmistakable repudiation of the criminal attacks of 11 September, voiced by Brazil from the very first moment, by no means represents some form of automatic adherence or alignment, as might be thought in haste by those who place ideological prejudice above reason and the most elementary human values. Brazil's vocation for peace is fully recognized by all, as is our long and consistent tradition of repudiating violence and any illegitimate or disproportionate use of force. This history of ours is what lends us the authority to assume independently a firm and clear position.

There is no room for attenuating circumstances before the mass killing of thousands of innocent human beings. For the terrorists and for those who stand against them, there should be no doubt as to where Brazil stands.