Commitments Obama Needs from Brazil

President Obama will travel to Brazil, Chile and El Salvador in the next week.

Hopeully his trip to Brazil will be better prepared than his trip to China last fall, which produced few tangible results and may have ended up exarcerbating relationships between the two countries.

Assuming he and his delegation are seriously prepared, Obama should seek to achieve the following objectives:

1. First, he should engage in hard-nosed discussions with Brazil in order to achieve a commitment from Brazil that it will not repeat its free-lancing on the issue of nuclear-proliferation in Iran. Last year Brazil negotiated a three-way deal with Turkey and Iran for the reprocessing of nuclear fuel from Iran, at a precise moment in which their negotiations undercut the negotiations then underway with the Group of 5 + 1.

2. Second, Obama should secure a commitment that any nuclear cooperation agreement betwen Brazil and Iran must be public, transparent, and safeguard the non-proliferation concerns and interests of the IAEA and the international community.

3. Third, Obama should secure a public reaffirmation that Brazil will comply with its 1988 Constitution and the principal international non-proliferation treaties, to which it is a party, and never seek a nuclear weapons capability. Such a reassurance is particularly iimportant in view of some of the statements made by high officials of the previous Lula government, and the fact that Brazil is moving quickly to implement and expand an autonomous nuclear enrichment capability.

4. Obama should seek a commitment from Brazil that it will not seek an expanded Securty Council seat which carries with it the power of the veto, which the current Permanent Members of the Security Council now have.

5. Finally, if and only if Brazil agrees not to seek a Secuirty Council seat which has the power of the veto, Obama should express U.S. support for Brazil to have a permanent seat on an expanded Security Council.

Actually, offering support for Security Council permanent seats on presidential trips abroad is a very poor way to approach the issue of Security Council reform, which if ever achieved will require the approval of its current peranent members: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Nonetheless, having made the mistake of offfering India support for a permanent seat on the Security Council during his trip to that country, Obama can at least correct part of his error by specifying that his support is for a Secuirty Council seat without a veto.

Given Brazil’s importance in Latin America, the countries of the developing world, and the world as a whole, offering such qualified support would definitely be appropriate.

Brazil is also a fascinating country and democracy, in which signficant reduction in poverty was achieved during Lula’s time in office. Obama’s visit offers an extraordinary opportunity for him to expand his consciousness of the world, and the importance of countries that are significant not because they are failing, but precisely because they are succeeding in the new economy of the 21st century.

The Trenchant Observer

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About the Author

James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.