Minister of Foreign Relations Celso Lafer
Relations and National Defense Committee
October 3, 2001
Mr. President Jefferson Péres,
Senators, members of this panel and commission,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I come to this Public Hearing at the invitation of Senate President Jefferson
Péres and in compliance with the motion approved by this Houses
plenary. As on previous occasions when I had the privilege of addressing the
Members of Congress, I wish to reiterate my feelings of deep respect for this
House that is the true expression of our national sovereignty. The Senate demonstrates
once more, above party affiliations, its interest in keeping abreast of the
international reality and, in the present case, of Brazils stance vis-à-vis
the deplorable terrorist attacks against the United States.
I am convinced that the National Congress is where the great national and international
issues are debated. This is the proper forum where a convergence of positions
for the defense of the Nations interests is achieved. Thus, in addition
to expressing my democratic convictions, my presence here rightly recognizes
the Congresss growing and decisive participation in Brazilian foreign
policy and in the definition of public interests.
The devastating September 11 attacks, perpetrated with awesome brutality and
at the same time with impressive operational precision, displayed unprecedented
features. Their effects were both terrifying and diversified. They had a factual
dimension, as they cut down thousands of lives, as well as a symbolic dimension,
as they struck both economic and military summits of U.S. power.
In response to a complex and threatening phenomenon, it is natural that reaction
patterns also have to be multidimensional.
It should be pointed out that repudiation of terrorism and racism, as provided
in Article 4, viii of our 1988 Constitution, is one of the fundamental principles
that govern Brazils international relations.
By establishing behavioral patterns, and encouraging and limiting behavior,
constitutional principles of this type provide a foundation for the States
external conduct and, on the domestic front, ensure the necessary transparence
so that the citizenry may monitor Government action within the international
system. This tradition goes back to previous Constitutions. The 1891 Constitution,
for instance, prohibited wars for conquest, and encouraged arbitration, consistent
with the peaceful inclination instilled by doctrine into our republican form
Repudiation of terrorism as a foreign policy guideline has been consistently
observed. This was the case, for example, of the internalization, on April 15,
1992 (through Decree 494) of Resolution 748 of the UN Security Council. Because
it is particularly pertinent to my exposition here, I also wish to mention the
publication of Decree 3755, of February 19, 2001, internalizing Resolution 1333
(2001) of the same UN Security Council, which, among other sanctions, determines
the freezing of financial resources belonging to Osama Bin Laden and to individuals
and enterprises associated with him, as well as prohibiting the sale of weapons
to the Taleban and the admission into our national territory of that regimes
A decree is now being drafted to internalize the provisions of Resolution 1373
(2001) of September 28, 2001, in which the UN Security Council, invoking Article
VII of the Charter of the United Nations, determines additional mandatory measures
against terrorism and its financing.
Diplomatic action of the Brazilian Government since the attack has thus been
firmly grounded on a constitutional principle that is also consistent with a
value embodied in the internal order. I refer to the individual and collective
rights and duties contemplated in the Brazilian Constitution and particularly
in its Article 5, xliii, which views terrorism as an unbailable crime, not subject
to pardon or amnesty, for which are answerable its instigators, perpetrators,
and those who, being able to prevent it, omit themselves.
Repudiation of terrorism, a value incorporated into our internal order and reflected
in our external action is above all a fruit of autonomy. Here, liberty coincides
with the obligatory, and is exercised in compliance with the law. Thus Brazilian
diplomatic action, which I will now proceed to explain, is in no way aligned
with any heteronomy, any norm imposed from the outside.
The Brazilian Government did not tarry in manifesting the Brazilian societys
indignation over the cruelty of the attacks, and in expressing its solidarity
to the American Nation, to which we are bound by solid ties of friendship. This
was the sense of the letter sent by President Fernando Henrique Cardoso to President
George W. Bush, of the statements I issued as Foreign Minister, and of many
other forms of manifestation. These have included the decreeing of mourning;
a letter from the Vice-President; a press communiqué; a speech by the
Foreign Relations Secretary-General before the Organization of American States
Assembly in Lima on the occasion of approval of the Democratic Charter; a statement
addressed by Brazils Permanent Representative before the United Nations
to the Security Council; and many other expressions.
The National Congress also voiced its unequivocal repudiation of the terrorist
acts along the same lines, thereby interpreting the unanimous feeling of Brazilian
society. Political parties and entities representing civil society have acted
in the same manner, as well.
Throughout this process Brazil was in constant consultation with the governments
of the United States and of the Latin American countries. President Fernando
Henrique Cardoso has engaged in direct dialogue with the other Presidents, while
I myself had the opportunity of exchanging information and ideas with my peers
in the other countries in our region.
From the very first moment, it became clear that firm, consistent diplomatic
action against terrorism was necessary. This requires a proper understanding
of the meaning and the long-range implications of the attacks.
The aggression suffered by the United States was extensive and inhuman. It may
change the course of international relations and cause serious disturbances
to the international system dynamics.
Since the end of the Cold War, the international system has moved according
to two contradictory views. One, based on centripetal forces, is centered on
converging expectations, and is encouraged by globalization. The other is impelled
by centrifugal forces that induce fragmentation, including that of identities.
The convergence viewpoint was illustrated particularly by the international
communitys efforts to find negotiated solutions for issues of a global
nature. This was the case of the 1992 Rio Conference on the Environment and
Development, the Vienna Conference on Human Rights, the Copenhagen Summit on
Social Development, and the conclusion of the Uruguay Round that led to the
establishment of WTO.
Divergences and asymmetries came to the fore with the territorial breakup of
the Soviet Union and of Yugoslavia, among others. The collapse of the Soviet
Union and the end of the Cold Warto take up Octavio Pazs viewsignaled
the end of the idea of revolution, and led to the "uprising of particularisms."
Hence the results of the fragmentation power of modern society itself, seen
also in the financial crises, the proliferation of trade disputes, and in the
antiglobalization protests of Seattle, Washington, Prague, and Genoa.
If one could point to one element of continuity in international policy throughout
the decade, this would be the consolidation of the unrivaled power of the United
States, which acquired the capacity for simultaneous action in the strategic/military,
political, economic, and financial fields.
Nevertheless, the terrorist act that struck New York and Washington showed that,
despite its power, the United States were not immune to violent, brutal attack.
Our own societies remain vulnerable, irrespective of the power resources they
may have managed to amass.
This lesson is enhanced by the perception that the alleged loss of relative
importance of the "security" factor among the issues that determine
the object of relations among States is but a hasty, deceptive conclusion.
The recognition that security resumes a central position in the definition of
national interests does not imply, however, adherence to the traditional concepts
of power politics. One of the features of classical International Public Law
is the existence of "mutual abstention norms," based on the reciprocal
acknowledgement of sovereignty and the apportionment of competence among states
within the international community. This is done essentially through regulation
of the states territorial competence.
To these mutual abstention norms were added those of "mutual cooperation"
that came into being in the 20th century. These norms arose because, despite
the scientific and technological revolution, the countries are unable to meet
their needs on an exclusively individual, territorial basis. The mutual cooperation
norms were thus born out of the requirements stemming from the growing interdependence
of states, assisted by advances in communications, transport, modern industry
and trade, which have led to the dilution of national borders and the narrowing
of the difference between that which is "internal" and that which
This was intensified after World War II, when there occurred a significant acceleration
of technological innovation, and the impact of the technical factor on international
relations became evident. The lower costs of transport and communications, the
advances in computer science and in information technology, followed by the
development of digital technology and the improvement in communication networks,
have fueled two phenomena that interest us directly: borders cease to be natural
barriers, and territorial limits tend to disappear in the transmission
The marked dilution of the distinction between the "internal" and
the "external" has altered the dynamics of international relations.
We can observe the creation of complex governmental and nongovernmental interaction
networks that reshape the world and define governance. In this context, a diversity
of players, including transnational corporations, nongovernmental organizations
and the media, are engaged in international relations.
Throughout the nineties we saw the prevalence of democracy and the autonomy
of civil society. Hence, the new role played by nongovernmental organizations,
which operate in the public domain as networks for the defense of certain values,
such as the environment and human rights. We also became aware of the existence
of other kinds of transnational networks, such as those devoted to money laundering,
organized crime, illicit arms trade, drug production and distribution, and terrorism.
The combination of these networks that operate clandestinely, with others that
act publicly tend to escape the control of States and international organizations.
In this new scenario, nations act as indispensable public mediation instances.
They mediate internally between their political institutions and the resident
population, and externally between their citizenry and the world.
There is no doubt that the emergence of true transnational organized crime networks
decreases the effectiveness of isolated, uncoordinated strategies. I am convinced
that the fight against terrorism, their authors and those that shelter and sponsor
them requires effective action of a multilateral character. Thus, countries
play a key role in the establishment of mutual cooperation norms to deal with
organized crime networks.
As a player in the international system, Brazil establishes solidarity networks
based on our identity, i.e., on the ensemble of circumstances and qualities
that shape our particular view of the world and of our interests. Among the
factors that help define Brazils international identity, I may cite some
of the constitutional principles that govern our countrys relations: national
independence; prevalence of human rights; and cooperation among peoples for
the progress of mankind.
In the case of terrorism, it was thus motivated that Brazilian authorities have
now acted. They have sought to associate our country to all international instruments
in this area, while at the same time participating in the decision-making process
involving the different international organizations of which Brazil is a member.
We must keep in mind the September 11 tragedy that struck a friendly nation
that belongs to the community of the Americas. It was an act of aggression against
a country in our region.
The concept of American countries as a community or a system will only come
true if there is the possibility of collective action to defend shared values
In some areas, the Inter-American System has indeed given proof of its vitality.
It has, for instance, promoted and defended democratic principles in the Hemisphere.
One case in point is the recent approval of the Inter-American Democratic Charter
by the Special Session of the OAS General Assembly held September 10-11in Lima.
On that very day, as it followed with astonishment the news coming from the
United States, the Assembly issued a communiqué condemning the terrorist
acts, and recognizing the need to strengthen hemispheric cooperation to combat
Understanding that the community of the Americas should respond firmly to the
brutal attack inflicted on the United States, the Brazilian Government took
the initiative of proposing to the United States and the other countries that
the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (Rio Treaty) should be invoked.
Although more than five decades have elapsed since it was signed, the Rio Treaty
has not lost its validity. I recall the words of the then-Foreign Minister San
Tiago Dantas at the 1962 Meeting of the Treatys consultative body. On
that occasion, he remarked that vitality of the inter-American system rested
on "its capacity to resolve and overcome problems through constructive
solutions that evidence a communion of ideas and a union of forces to achieve
an objective desired by all."
The decision to invoke the Rio Treaty is clearly consistent with the initiatives
taken by the United Nations, which promptly reacted to the September 11 attacks.
Resolution 56/1, adopted by the General Assembly on September 12 and particularly
the Security Councils Resolution 1368 forcefully condemned the attacks.
These resolutions call those attacks a threat to peace and security; urge the
international community to work together to bring to justice the perpetrators,
organizers, and sponsors of those terrorist attacks; call on the international
community to redouble their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist acts including
by increased cooperation and full implementation of the relevant international
anti-terrorist conventions; and express readiness to take all necessary steps
to respond to the terrorist attacks of September 11 and to combat all forms
of terrorism, in accordance with its responsibilities under the Charter of United
Action on the part of regional bodies to maintain international peace and security
is fully consistent with the provisions of Article 52 of the Charter of the
Article 52 makes it clear that the action of regional organizations to maintain
peace and security do not contradict the provisions of Articles 34 and 35 of
the Charter, which establish the UN Security Councils competence in relation
to any dispute or situation likely to endanger the maintenance of international
peace and security.
The case under review points to the complementary nature of the universal and
the regional. Hence, the obligation on the part of regional organizations to
bring to the attention of the UN Security Council any initiatives to maintain
peace and security, and at all times to conduct these initiatives in coordination
with the Council.
After careful analysis, the Brazilian Government saw the importance of invoking
the hemispheric security instrument. Thus, I convened the Ambassadors of the
Rio Treaty member countries to Brasilia, on September 14, 2001. On that occasion,
I expressed the conviction that the Rio Treatywhich provides for institutional
procedures for the rendering of reciprocal assistance to respond to armed attacks
and to deal with threats of aggression (either threats from other countries
or diffused threats, such as has been the case) against any country in the Americas
is an adequate instrument for the promotion of peace and security on the
American continent. I stressed further that the Brazilian initiative to invoke
the Rio Treaty stemmed from the conviction that it was necessary to complement
on a regional level the intense international mobilization that followed the
In a special session on September 19, the Permanent Council of the OAS called
the Twenty-third Meeting of Consultation of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs
of the Member States of the Organization of American States and the Twenty-fourth
Meeting of Consultation of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of States Party
to the Rio Treaty.
On Friday, September 21, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Americas held
two meetings in Washington. The first Consultation Meeting, held in accordance
with the provisions of the Charter of the Organization of American States, was
to organize actions of solidarity in response to the aggression. Inter alia,
the Resolution adopted, titled "Strengthening Hemispheric Cooperation to
Prevent, Combat, and Eliminate Terrorism," vigorously condemns the September
11 attacks; calls upon the member States to strengthen cooperation to pursue,
capture, prosecute, and punish the perpetrators, organizers, and sponsors of
these terrorist acts; and to strengthen mutual legal assistance and exchange
of information. The Resolution further instructs the Permanent Council to call
a meeting of the Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism so that it may identify
actions aimed at strengthening inter-American cooperation to prevent, combat
and eliminate terrorism; and entrusts the Permanent Council with preparing a
draft Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism.
Within the context of the Rio Treaty, I was elected by consensus to preside
over the second meeting, in recognition of the Brazilian initiative to invoke
the Treaty. Acting as a consultative body, the Ministers approved a Resolution
titled "Terrorist Threat in the Americas."
The Resolution makes explicit the view that the terrorist attacks against the
United States should be considered as attacks against all American States and
that all States Party to the Rio Treaty should render reciprocal assistance
to confront them. The Resolution further provides that the States should resort
to all available measures under the law to capture, extradite, and punish individuals
connected with the attacks that might be found in their territories. It also
appoints a commission consisting of representatives of the member States in
the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States to hold further
meetings and monitor the measures agreed upon. The Brazilian Permanent Representative
before the OAS was chosen to chair the commission.
In the quality of chairman of the Twenty-fourth Meeting of Consultation of Ministers
of Foreign Affairs of the States Party to the Rio Treaty, which stands as a
consultative body, I conveyed the text of the Resolution, "Terrorist Threat
in the Americas" to the Security Council of the United Nations through
the offices of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, pursuant to the principle of complementary
actions of the world and regional organizations.
Since the signature of the Rio Treaty in 1947 during the Inter-American Conference
for the Maintenance of Peace and Security, several Meetings of Consultation
of Ministers of Foreign Affairs have been held to deal with threats to hemispheric
security, which were far from having uniform, undisputed features.
The fact that the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Rio Treaty Member States
met after nearly two decades to deal with an unprecedented threat shows the
Inter-American systems flexibility and capacity for adapting to the challenges
It also shows the American States commitment to take steps in case of
an armed attack against an American Nation or when the territorial integrity
of an American Nation is the target of an aggression other than an armed attack,
an extra-continental or intra-continental conflict, or any other fact or situation
that may endanger peace in the Americas.
It should be made clear that there has been no thought of, nor any commitment
to the use of troops. The Rio Treaty contemplates the possibility of adoption
of the following measures: recalling Mission chiefs; breakup of diplomatic and
consular relations; partial or full interruption of economic relations and of
communications; and the use of armed forces. The Rio Treaty provides, however,
that no country shall be obliged to employ armed force without its consent.
Needless to say, authorization from the National Congress would be necessary
should the use of Brazilian armed forces be consideredwhich, I repeat,
is not the case.
Thus the commitment we made in Washington was to seekwithin our means
and capacitiesthe best ways to help in our common fight against terrorism.
This fight is consistent with the very foundations of our Republic, which was
established on the democratic Rule of Law. Our greater objective, in this connection,
is to keep the Americas as a zone of peace and security.
As the Rio Treaty is geographically circumscribed, Brazils diplomatic
objective in invoking it is to find a unique, particular form for its participation
in the world, conducive to the maintenance of a peaceful climate in our own
region. In his diplomatic work throughout the continent, the Baron of Rio Branco
considered this to be of great importance for national development and for ensuring
that South America would be an area of peace and progress.
Brazils emphatic repudiation of the September 11 attacks from the very
first moment is consistent with our recognized inclination for peace and with
our long tradition of rejecting violence and the illegitimate use of force.
This tradition empowers us to adopt a firm and clear-cut position in full autonomy.
As the Brazilian Government sees it , it is essential that combating international
terrorism be done pursuant to our own constitutional norm and in accordance
with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations, the Charter of the
Organization of American States, and the tenets of International Law.
Brazil has advocated expansion of the conventions that address specific aspects
of the problem. Currently there are twelve international instruments against
terrorism under the United Nations and two that have been agreed on at the OAS
Brazil has ratified nine of these Conventions, including the 1971 Convention
for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Security of Civil Aviation.
Three conventions are currently undergoing technical analysis by the Executive
Branch, among which the 1999 International Convention for the Suppression of
Financing to Terrorism. The 1997 International Convention for the Suppression
of Terrorist Bombings was sent to the National Congress in June 2001, and the
1991 Convention on the Marking of Plastic Explosives for Detection Purposes
has been approved by Congress and is now in the final stage of ratification.
In international forums we have also sought to support the consensual characterization
of terrorism as a crime, which may create conditions for the eventual adoption
of a comprehensive convention on this matter.
These positions concerning the need for both short- and long-range approaches
to fighting terrorism were reiterated this week by the Brazilian Representative
before the United Nations during the current General Assemblys debate
on measures to combat international terrorism.
Discussion of this issue by the United Nations is not recent. International
terrorism has been on the General Assemblys agenda since 1972. It has
been on the agenda every year owing to terrorist acts, including those against
passenger planes of PanAm in 1988 and of the Union de Transports Aérien
On international level, it should also be recalled that the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization-NATO decided on September 12, 2001 that, if the attack against
the United States was brewed outside that country, it should be looked at in
the light of Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. This article provides that
an armed attack against one or more of the countries party to the Treaty shall
be considered an attack against them all and that each of them will assist the
party or parties so attacked. A wide network of solidarity and support for the
United States has thus come into being and is translated into major decisions
that establish the legal basis for the international communitys action
in combating terrorism and dealing with the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.
I now wish to refer to the humanitarian consequences of these attacks, an issue
that the Brazilian Government has considered of the utmost importance from the
very first moment. We should not forget that, in addition to thousands of U.S.
citizens, the attacks also hit many people of different nationalities. A second
component of our initiatives must then be the assistance and support to Brazilian
citizens in the United States. This is one of our external priorities.
Itamaraty earnestly embarked upon this task, as soon as we learned of the attacks.
In Brasilia, a 24-hour assistance center was set up to meet requests of information
about Brazilians, and help locate them. We also instructed our diplomatic posts
in the United States to remain on full time stand-by for the same purpose.
Through the Brasilia assistance center and the Consulate General in New York
we received 427 requests for locating Brazilians in that city. The exhaustive
work that is being done by the Consulate includes visiting hospitals and emergency
rooms, checking the official lists of city government and firms that had offices
in the World Trade Center, and telephoning relatives, friends, and neighbors.
This intensive, relentless work allowed us to locate most people. Only in connection
with a few names the search has produced no results, owing particularly to the
lack of precise information and the incompleteness of data provided to Itamaraty.
I cannot but commend the efficient work done by our missions in the United States,
particularly by the New York Consulate General, whose staff, led by the Consul
General, worked untiringly to provide assistance and search for information.
We are continuing our efforts, mindful of the anguish of relatives and friends
here in Brazil.
On September 22, I had the occasion of visiting the New York Consulate General
and witnessing their intense work, as well as personally expressing my solidarity
to representatives of the large Brazilian colony, at a special session of the
I now move on to another issue that I deem relevant. To reinforce internal security,
steps have been taken to prevent terrorism in Brazil. To cite but a few examples:
a much more rigorous control at airports, the monitoring of financial operations
that might be linked to terrorism, and watching out for the possible presence
in Brazil of individuals connected with terrorist activities.
This possibility, which has been raised by both the Brazilian and the foreign
press, points to two regions in Brazil: the Uruguayan border, more precisely
the city of Chui; and the border with Paraguay and Argentina, particularly the
city of Foz do Iguaçu, located at the so-called Triple Border.
So far, however, as President Fernando Henrique Cardoso has said, there is no
proof of any activity in that region that might be linked to terrorist acts.
Still, the New York and Washington attacks have led to enhanced vigilance in
the Triple Border region, which, as a place of a significant flow of people
and operations, should always be the focus of attention in terms of surveillance
and control. The Brazilian, Argentine, and Paraguayan police and intelligence
continue to work closely in this regard. Moreover, the Ministers of the Interior
or of Justice of the Mercosur countries met in Montevideo last September 28
to review the situation in that region and to evaluate pertinent measures to
I now wish to touch on an issue that has to do with our sensitiveness as a multiethnic
country where Brazilians of every descent, and followers of different religions
live in harmony, peacefully. The cities of Chui and Foz do Iguaçu both
have sizeable communities of Arab descent, including Palestinians, and numerous
Muslims. Let me categorically and emphatically say that we must react strongly
against any type of prejudicial attitude toward those of Arab descent or of
the Islamic faith, or toward any other ethnic or religious group. On various
occasions, President Fernando Henrique Cardoso has publicly condemned discrimination.
Even President Bush himself has more than once alerted against the unacceptable
injustice any such attitude would represent.
I recall further that repudiation of both terrorism and racism is a constitutional
principle that informs our international relations. This is consistent with
Article 3, iv of the Brazilian Constitution, according to which one of the fundamental
objectives of the Federative Republic of Brazil is "to promote the well-being
of all, without prejudice as to origin, race, sex, color, age, and any other
forms of discrimination."
On September 26, Itamaraty issued a note condemning and repudiating any form
of discrimination against individuals from any ethnic or religious group, stressing
the centuries-old tradition of harmonious relations among the various communities
that make up Brazilian society, founded on the juridical order dictated by our
We must bear in mind that Brazilian society has thoroughly pluralistic origins,
remains pluralistic today, and to be pluralistic in the future is its vis directiva.
Traditionally, the promotion of security has been associated with national strategies
based on the relative accumulation of power resources, particularly military
resources. This is an area, then, in which prospects for cooperation among States
have met with difficulties.
Paradoxically, the trail of destruction left by the terrorist attacks may provide
some reason for optimism and lead to a review of the international agenda. The
severance of power and national security has made it clear for all of us that
the scourge of terrorism cannot be effectively fought without decisive, coordinated
action by the international community.
It seems increasingly clear that international cooperation can only happen with
the strengthening of multilateralism, and of commitment to International Law,
which is fundamental for the ordering of international relations.
This is more than an aspiration. We should stay the course toward a more secure
and democratic international scenario, which is the result of cooperation fueled
by common objectives and institutions.
One of the results of the September 11 events may be a renewed thrust toward
new forms of cooperation and the conviction that the solitary exercise of power
will not solve the great issues that affect us. Greater consensus, more consultation
will endow with legitimacy the major initiatives required on the political,
economic, and commercial levels. Better world governance might be the beneficial
consequence of the great solidarity movement generated by common repudiation
of senseless terrorist acts. It is incumbent on all of us to work in order to
bring this about. This is the direction that President Fernando Henrique Cardosos
acts are taking. In this regard, I may inform that the President of the Republic
is working with his peers towards this objective.