Lula at the G20: Proposes task force against hunger, says Putin won’t be arrested if he travels to Brazil

By September 11, 2023

São Paulo, Brazil – Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva participated in the G20 Summit in New Delhi, India, from September 9th and 11th, where Brazil assumed the presidency of the group for the first time. At the summit, Lula demanded more resources from rich countries to combat global warming and climate change and defended the creation of a task force against hunger.

For Lula, the lack of global commitment to the environment has led to an “unprecedented climate emergency.” 

“If we do not act with a sense of urgency, these impacts will be irreversible,” he said. He also said that richer countries cannot transfer their responsibilities to nations in the Southern Hemisphere.

According to the Brazilian leader, it’s important to reinforce the efforts to achieve the goal of ending world hunger by 2030, “otherwise we will be facing the biggest multilateral failure in recent years.”

Lula said that a G20 headed by Brazil will have three priorities: 

  • Social inclusion and the fight against inequality, hunger and poverty; 
  • Tackling climate change and promoting sustainable development in economic, social and environmental dimensions;
  • And the defense of reform of global governance institutions.

It is the first time that Brazil has assumed the presidency of the G20 since its creation in 1999. At the end of the summit in India, the group’s member countries released a joint statement. The document consists of 76 items, such as the need for sustainable development, economic and scientific cooperation, actions against inequality and the reduction of suffering caused by wars.

Heads of State at the opening of the G20 summit in India. Image courtesy of Ricardo Stuckert/PR

Agreement between the EU and MERCOSUR

When meeting with European leaders, Lula reaffirmed that the agreement between MERCOSUR and the European Union must be balanced, allowing for an ambitious trade agenda between the blocs. He said that MERCOSUR is ready to conclude the agreement as quickly as possible and that he expects a “clear stance from the Europeans.”

“For the Brazilian president, it no longer makes sense, after 22 years of negotiations, to continue with a perspective of delaying consensus. For him, it is time for leaders on both sides to decide politically to take the agreement between the blocs forward,” read a statement released on Sunday by the federal government.

Lula also said that MERCOSUR does not accept some suggestions made by European nations, including a recommendation that the EU made this year regarding possible sanctions for environmental issues. The European group wants to establish punishments for anyone who fails to comply with the terms of the Paris Agreement, the international treaty on climate change adopted in 2015.

In previous statements, Lula has said that the proposal is unacceptable, but, according to the government statement, he is confident that by the end of this year they will reach “a balanced agreement that takes into account the needs of both sides.” Under Brazil’s leadership, the MERCOSUR trading bloc delivered a counterproposal to the Europeans’ recommendation. 

G20 Summit in New Delhi, India, happened from September 9th and 11th. Image courtesy of Ricardo Stuckert/PR

Can Putin go to Brazil?

In an interview with an Indian television outlet, Lula sparked controversy by saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin would not be arrested if he visited Brazil. In March, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants for Putin for war crimes. Brazil is a signatory to the agreement creating the ICC.

When asked whether Putin would be invited to participate in the G20 meeting in Brazil, scheduled for November 2024, Lula said he would send an invitation. “I think Putin can go to Brazil with no problem. If I am the president of Brazil and he goes to Brazil, there is no reason for him to be arrested,” he said.

Two days later, Lula backtracked and, in his last press conference before leaving India, said that any eventual arrest of Putin is not up to the Brazilian government, but rather to the courts: “That’s up to the courts to decide. It’s not the government nor the parliament. It is the Justice that will decide.”

The president was asked about Brazil’s possible withdrawal from the International Criminal Court and said that he did not know the court and that he would need to study the issue further. “I want to know what magnitude made Brazil take this decision to be a signatory, because the United States is not a signatory, Russia is not a signatory,” said Lula.

Acting President Geraldo Alckmin visited Rio Grande do Sul while Lula was in India. Image courtesy of Cadu Gomes/VPR

Extratropical cyclone in southern Brazil

After being criticized for not going to Rio Grande do Sul, the state in southern Brazil hit by an extratropical cyclone last week, Lula spoke about the storm at the G20 Summit. The extratropical cyclone hit at least 92 cities in the state, leaving 46 people dead and more than 25,000 people homeless so far.

Read more: Extratropical cyclone leaves 39 dead and more than 6,000 displaced in southern Brazil

The federal government is helping to rescue and shelter the victims, but Lula’s absence at the scene of the tragedy was criticized by opponents. He sent Vice President Geraldo Alckmin to Rio Grande do Sul, who announced the allocation of federal resources for reconstruction of the cities.

Meanwhile, in India, Lula said that this type of tragedy “draws attention” because it has happened in the most different places on the planet. According to him, the effects of climate change are most felt by vulnerable groups. “It is the poorest, women, Indigenous people, the elderly, children, young people and migrants, who are most impacted.”