Human rights traded off for electoral success in Brazil

In Brazil the government of Captain Jair Bolsonaro does not make a secret of its disdain for policies and institutions aimed at supporting the people living in poverty. In its first day in office, on 1 January 2019, president Bolsonaro, dissolved the institutions responsible for the Zero Hunger policies (see Special Contribution 0.2 on the temporary extinction of CONSEA), an initiative that inspired anti-poverty policies around the world. The report by INESC documents the reduction, in the following weeks of policy spaces with civil society participation from 500 to 70. The affected monitoring bodies include the Council for Drug Policies, Council on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Council for the Eradication of Forced Labour, Commission for Biodiversity, and many more. Land-right defenders, trade unionist and NGO activists are being threatened and the Pastoral Commission on Land, a body of the Catholic Church, reported a dramatic increase in the first months of 2019 of murders related to land conflicts.

Internationally, Brazil withdrew from the UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration that it helped create a few months before, refused to host the COP-25 of the Climate Convention and left UNASUR, the Union of South American Countries.

The civil society report finds that the Bolsonaro administration by “acting as if human rights were linked to party politics or to a certain ideology and investing in hate speech, is also deepening the divide in our society”. Therefore “there is no path to the 2030 Agenda fulfilment, and instead civil society needs to go back to fighting for very simple assumptions that were taken for granted: that human rights are inherent to all human beings - regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status, and that we are all seen as humans and not only as enemies”.

By Ana Cernov, Iara Pietricovsky, Nathalie Beghin, Instituto de Estudos Socioeconômicos, INESC, Brazil.

Read this chapter here.

Source: Report Spotlight on Sustainable Development 2019.