Rousseff v Obama – Who do you trust on human rights?

September 29, 2013 — Leave a comment

In the wake of the NSA revelations, Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil, socked it to Barack Obama on September 24, 2013, at the same 68th session of the UN General Assembly. Obama then replied, arguing the US was only spying on everyone and bombing countries for the common good. Read the speeches before voting on who you would rather trust to defend human rights:

Dilma Rousseff:

Mr. President,

I would like to bring to the consideration of delegations a matter of great importance and gravity.

Recent revelations concerning the activities of a global network of electronic espionage have caused indignation and repudiation in public opinion around the world.

In Brazil, the situation was even more serious, as it emerged that we were targeted by this intrusion. Personal data of citizens was intercepted indiscriminately. Corporate information – often of high economic and even strategic value – was at the center of espionage activity. Also, Brazilian diplomatic missions, among them the

Permanent Mission to the United Nations and the Office of the President of the Republic itself, had their communications intercepted.

Tampering in such a manner in the lives and affairs of other countries is a breach of International Law and, as such, it is an affront to the principles that should otherwise govern the relations among countries, especially among friendly nations. A sovereign nation can never establish itself to the detriment of another sovereign nation. The right to safety of citizens of one country can never be guaranteed by violating fundamental human rights of citizens of another country.

The arguments that the illegal interception of information and data aims at protecting nations against terrorism cannot be sustained.

Brazil, Mr. President, knows how to protect itself. We reject, fight and do not harbor terrorist groups.

We are a democratic country surrounded by nations that are democratic, peaceful and respectful of International Law. We have lived in peace with our neighbors for more than 140 years.

As many other Latin Americans, I fought against authoritarianism and censorship, and I cannot but defend, in an uncompromising fashion, the right to privacy of individuals and the sovereignty of my country. In the absence of the right to privacy, there can be no true freedom of speech or freedom of opinion, and therefore no actual democracy. In the absence of the respect for sovereignty, there is no basis for the relationship among Nations.

We face, Mr. President, a situation of grave violation of human rights and of civil liberties; of invasion and capture of confidential information concerning corporate activities, and especially of disrespect to national sovereignty.

We expressed to the Government of the United States our disapproval, and demanded explanations, apologies and guarantees that such procedures will never be repeated.

Friendly governments and societies that seek to consolidate a truly strategic partnership, as in our case, cannot allow recurring illegal actions to take place as if they were normal. They are unacceptable.

Brazil, Mr. President, will redouble its efforts to adopt legislation, technologies and mechanisms to protect us from the illegal interception of communications and data.

My Government will do everything within its reach to defend the human rights of all Brazilians and to protect the fruits borne from the ingenuous efforts of our workers and corporations.

The problem, however, goes beyond a bilateral relationship. It affects the international community itself and demands a response from it. Information and telecommunication technologies cannot become the new battlefield between States. Time is ripe to create the conditions required to prevent cyberspace from being used as a weapon of war, through espionage, sabotage, and attacks against systems and infrastructure of other countries.

The United Nations must play a leading role in the effort to regulate the conduct of States with regard to these technologies.

For this reason, Brazil will present proposals for the establishment of a civilian multilateral framework for the governance and use of the Internet and to ensure the effective protection of data that travels through the web.

We need to create multilateral mechanisms for the worldwide network that are capable of ensuring principles such as:

1 – Freedom of speech, privacy of the individual and respect for human rights.

2 – Open, multilateral and democratic governance, carried out with transparency by stimulating collective creativity and the participation of society, Governments and the private sector.

3 – Universality that ensures the social and human development and the construction of inclusive and non-discriminatory societies.

4 – Cultural diversity, without the imposition of beliefs, customs and values.

5 – Neutrality of the network, guided only by technical and ethical criteria, thus making unacceptable any restriction due to political, commercial, religious or any other purposes.

Barack Obama:
Obama-Bradley-Manning
I have made it clear that even when America’s core interests are not directly threatened, we stand ready to do our part to prevent mass atrocities and protect basic human rights. But we cannot and should not bear that burden alone. In Mali, we supported both the French intervention that successfully pushed back al Qaeda, and the African forces who are keeping the peace. In Eastern Africa, we are working with partners to bring the Lord’s Resistance Army to an end. And in Libya, when the Security Council provided a mandate to protect civilians, America joined a coalition that took action. Because of what we did there, countless lives were saved, and a tyrant could not kill his way back to power.

I know that some now criticize the action in Libya as an object lesson. They point to the problems that the country now confronts — a democratically elected government struggling to provide security; armed groups, in some places extremists, ruling parts of a fractured land. And so these critics argue that any intervention to protect civilians is doomed to fail — look at Libya. No one is more mindful of these problems than I am, for they resulted in the death of four outstanding U.S. citizens who were committed to the Libyan people, including Ambassador Chris Stevens — a man whose courageous efforts helped save the city of Benghazi. But does anyone truly believe that the situation in Libya would be better if Qaddafi had been allowed to kill, imprison, or brutalize his people into submission? It’s far more likely that without international action, Libya would now be engulfed in civil war and bloodshed.

We live in a world of imperfect choices. Different nations will not agree on the need for action in every instance, and the principle of sovereignty is at the center of our international order. But sovereignty cannot be a shield for tyrants to commit wanton murder, or an excuse for the international community to turn a blind eye. While we need to be modest in our belief that we can remedy every evil, while we need to be mindful that the world is full of unintended consequences, should we really accept the notion that the world is powerless in the face of a Rwanda or Srebrenica? If that’s the world that people want to live in, they should say so and reckon with the cold logic of mass graves.

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