By Sergio Moreira Lima, Brazilian Ambassador in Canberra, Australia
In isolation to prevent the dissemination of covid-19, one realises every single day that we live at a time of challenge.
It is up to us to make it also a time of hope and opportunity.
Expertise and historical memory are important elements to generate awareness and know-how to promote change. Each generation faces its own ordeals.
In the last century, the world was faced by the Great War (1914-18), the Spanish flu (1918), the Great Depression (1929-1939) and the Second World War (1939-1945).
It is difficult to imagine a more challenging onset of a new century, which ironically started with the Belle Époque, a period of extraordinary prosperity in Europe.
One should not forget that it was in the aftermath of both world wars that public health experienced a great leap forward – the polio vaccine is just one example of this achievement in medical science.
Other important developments would change world politics.
The European Community was created from the ashes of the conflict and became an important social, political and economic reference to replace lack of trust by a new logic of cooperation and joint prosperity among its member states.
Later, it would inspire Brazil and Argentina in the planning and creation of Mercosul with Paraguay and Uruguay, so important for enhancing economic cooperation, free trade and the reestablishment of representative political institutions in South America.
In the 21st century, the emergence of Asia is another offspring of a period of peace and progress. Democracy expanded and consolidated in Latin America and also in Africa, which has significantly changed from the colonial period.
But nothing can be taken for granted: education, knowledge and expertise are the instruments which make change possible and enable us to overcome insurmountable obstacles. Today, doctors and nurses work around the clock to save lives without the proper medicine to combat a novel coronavirus until scientists and researchers develop a new vaccine. In the meantime, governments try to mitigate health, economic and social impact of the pandemic.
We are all being affected by the complex management of this global conundrum.
When we were just some months ago struggling to overcome the bushfires here in Australia, we could not imagine that all of a sudden, as we enter the second decade of the new millennium, the pandemic of the Coronavirus would threaten once again the endurance and resilience of individuals, nations and countries around the world.
Indeed, since the upheavals of world wars, humanity has experienced extraordinary progress. The United Nations and the Bretton Woods system were landmarks in this evolution, so is the WTO and other international organisations. The rule of law expanded in international relations.
Decolonisation and development enlarged the family of nation states under the principle of sovereign equality.
This means that nation states could count on institutions to assist them to debate their problems, overcome their disputes and safeguard their interests. Without them and the dialogue and cooperation they promote and encourage, the possibility of conflict would be much more conspicuous.
International cooperation has created new perspectives for addressing issues of common interest and enhancing solidarity. But the consistence and resilience of multilateralism depend on the engagement of member states. National purpose, efficient and farsighted governments are required to overcome the challenges and strengthen conditions for peace and prosperity.
The world today is much more complex than at the outset of the 20th century.
In 1950, the world population had already reached 2.5 billion and today it has surpassed 7.77 billion people.
The UN was created by 50 founding member countries and in 2020 it has almost quadrupled with 193 member states. During the cold war, nuclear weapons created a feeling of systemic insecurity and fear. In the last three decades, with the emergence of China and, more recently, India, the Indo-Pacific region has become the most economically dynamic region in the world.
During this period, millions of people were taken out of poverty and illiteracy in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Yet, despite the extraordinary progress of humankind, global achievements such as food and health security, sustainable development, and climate change mitigation are still common challenges.
The world has also become more multi-polar.
The G-20 is an expression of this geopolitical and economic evolution. Democracy has also been recognised as a reference for political representation and legitimacy.
Technological advancement is not any longer perceived as a prerogative of the Western Hemisphere and R&D in science is more universally spread. The number of quality Universities all over the world is an expression of such a trend.
This is a positive evolution which will have a bearing in reducing inequality all over the world and will enhance the moral ideals of the concept of civilisation and humanity.
Yet, despite the progress achieved, the novel coronavirus pandemic represents an immediate threat to all of us, to our dear ones, our families and our countries. We are witnessing on a daily basis, a growing number of contagion and deaths even in the most advanced countries which can count on the best health institutions.
To fight this common foe we need, first of all, a sense of national purpose, institutional organization and sound policies based on science, but we also need solidarity, dialogue, cooperation, and mutual understanding to be able to address with hard work, but also with dignity, sympathy and generosity, this highly contagious pandemic.
As we have in the past, I am sure humanity will survive and will become stronger and we will be proud of our behavior and moral upper hand.
The Brazilian Embassy is in close contact with the Brazilian community and Brazilian students in Australia recommending that they follow strictly the orientation of the Australian state and federal authorities.
In the meantime, we are in constant dialogue with DFAT, Home Affairs and the Diplomatic and Consular corps to contribute to safeguard the interest of our nationals and assist those who will be staying here until transportation is available for them to return to Brazil.
Sergio Moreira Lima
Brazilian Ambassador in Canberra, ACT