WSF 2018 discusses human rights challenges for international cooperation

The Human Rights agenda is a theme which incorporates different perspectives from international cooperation, between partners in the field of daily struggle, from the agencies and in South-South cooperation. For this reason, CESE, the Process of International Networking and Dialogue (Processo de Articulação e Diálogo Internacional: PAD), the Coalition for Human Rights Monitoring in Brazil and the Ecumenical Forum of Brazil (Fórum Ecumênico: FEBRASIL) held the Round Table Dialogue, “The human rights agenda in Brazil and the challenge of cooperation between local, national and international partners”.

The meeting took place on the afternoon of 15 March during the 2018 World Social Forum and aimed to help guide dialogue and coordination processes, discuss elements worth gathering from what organizations have already undertaken and resume partnerships with international and global networks.

Those invited to the debate were: Benilda Brito, lecturer in Human Rights from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais (Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais: PUC/MG), Coordinator of Nzinga – the Black Women’s Collective in Belo Horizonte and member of the UN Women Civil Society Advisory Group; Paulo Carbonari, philosopher and teacher at the Berthier Higher Institute of Philosophy (Instituto Superior de Filosofia Berthier: IFIBE), Advisor to the Coalition for Human Rights Monitoring in Brazil and activist in the National Human Rights Movement; and Maiana Teixeira, from the Federation of Bodies for Social and Educational Work (Federação de Órgãos para Assistência Social e Educacional: FASE), responsible for the Socio-Environmental Justice programme.

To facilitate the running of the meeting, three guiding questions were suggested to address content: 1- What are the main impacts on and violations of rights in the work universe of each invitee? What is the history and what has intensified in recent times?  2- What are the greatest challenges for the agenda of cooperation, for other partners and the international community? 3- What are the strengths and what motivates you to remain active in daily activities?  For Eneas de Rosa, debate mediator, these questions are important because they directly influence the input of funds aimed at the struggle for rights: “These are questions that have the capacity to politically influence the partner relationship, as well as society,” he declared.

With the axis of “Institutional Violence and its variations (femicide; black youth; mass incarceration; traditional peoples, etc.)”, Benilda Brito provided a historical overview from the Abolition of Slavery to the present day, revealing shameful data about: Mining and its extreme violence; Mass sterilization of black and indigenous women; Quilombola communities whose territories are threatened; High rates of femicide, racism, the extermination of black youth and rights violated since the coup; and the Mass Incarceration of women.  “It’s like we went to sleep for a night and woke up on another day. So many things have remained the same.  We haven’t managed to advance,” Benilda asserted.

For the activist and teacher these facts legitimize the process of the negation of indigenous and black people.  “We need to undertake a moral clear up in this country, to understand that all  these origins, all this inequality contain the structural feature of racism”.  With this, she addressed the challenge to the legitimacy of the agendas of the black movement and of black women in Brazil: “The losses of rights by this coup-making government fall on black women.  The home, the family grant, the labour and social security reforms”.

In addition, Benilda revealed other challenges for the future: creative communication strategies, social mobilization, investment in youth, new candidates, training new black and feminist leaders and funding for academic studies.

Addressing the axis “Democracy x The struggle for rights x Inequalities” Paulo Carbonari asserted that one cannot think about cooperation and partnerships without Human Rights.  For him, “Human Rights are the heritage of grassroots struggles, constructed over the years as a corrective to institutional and interpersonal violence, to destructive attacks and the violation of human life.” However, Human Rights, Democracy and Development cannot be generalized to populations living in different conditions, for example, women, black and indigenous people.  For this reason, there is a need to undertake training, to reposition what Human Rights are and under what conditions people are human beings, “There are certain humans whose deaths do not matter,” noted Carbonari.

To end, Maiana Teixeira addressed the axis “Socio-environmental Justice (mining; the right to water; traditional peoples and communities, etc.)” with examples linked to Carbonari’s and Benilda’s speeches about environmental racism, the rights violations of peoples and people considered killable.  For her, there is an urgent need to provide visibility and strengthen the autonomy of the movements, through the possibilities and dynamics of resistance.  “There is a need to show society the great power of people’s ways of life, the value of the agroextractivist family economy, which produces healthy food.  There are certain groups that operate under the logic of sharing and solidarity, unlike, contrary to, the logic of capital,” Maiana ended, before opening up to the plenary.

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