3 Brazil as a global power |
43. Between 1964 and 1985, Brazil was a military
dictatorship. As was frequently the case with such regimes in
South America, the dictatorship was aligned with the United States,
although the Brazilian-US relationship was not as close as that
between the USA and other South American countries. The military
dictatorship acquiesced in a peaceful transition to democracy
44. Democratic Brazil's foreign policy over the
last 15 years has been shaped by three key figures: President
Cardoso (1995-2003), President Lula (2003-11) and his Foreign
Minister Celso Amorin (2003-11). Under Presidents Cardoso and
Lula, Brazil broadly adopted Western "norms" and values
in respect of parliamentary democracy and human rights. Brazil
is a party to all major humanitarian law and human rights treaties,
without any reservations.
It is also an active participant in the "Doha round"
of trade negotiations and international organisations such as
the UN and IMF.
45. The UK's increased emphasis on relations
with Brazil comes after a period of an "activist" Brazilian
foreign policy. Under President Lula, Brazil took a more affirmative
line on foreign policy. Professor Hurrell described this to us
as an "activist, personalist, voluntarist and ambitious foreign
official aim, in the words of his Foreign Minister Celso Amorin,
was to "increase, if only by a margin, the degree of multipolarity
in the world" while at the same time achieving "recognition"
as a valid global policy power.
To achieve this, Brazil pursued a "South-South" policy
and sought to become the voice of the "global South"
or the so-called G77 of poorer countries.
Under Lula, Brazil opened 33 new embassies, 5 new permanent missions
to international organizations (including the International Atomic
Energy Agency and the Human Rights Council) and 19 new consulates.
Most of the new embassies were to African countries. Brazil currently
has more embassies in Africa than the UK.
46. According to the FCO, Brazil is seeking to
increase the amount of global multipolarity out of a desire for
global institutions better to reflect the global balance of power:
Brazil's approach to foreign policy is driven by
support for multilateralism, a rules-based international system
and respect for other countries' sovereignty. Brazil considers
the current multilateral system designed in the developed world's
image and not reflecting the reality of the 21st century.
The rise of the G20 has boosted their hopes of reshaping such
global institutions. Brazil wants the G20 to be the pre-eminent
forum for economic matters beyond the global crisis.
Brazil believes it has the right to a place at the
senior table, including a permanent seat at the UN Security Council
(it is now in the second year of a non-permanent seat).
The FCO is broadly supportive of Brazil's rise as
a global power, viewing Brazil as a valuable partner diplomatically
and one which shares the UK's core values and aims. Jeremy Browne
told us that:
Brazil is quite a good voice internationally in terms
of our values. Rather than having the familiar cast list of European
countries and North Americans making those points, there is the
opportunity for a new voice to make points that we would support.
REFORM OF THE UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL
47. Brazil is currently one of ten non-permanent
Members of the UN Security Council. These countries, unlike the
five permanent members (China, France, Russia, UK and USthe
"P5"), do not possess a right of veto. Brazil's two-year
term of office is due to expire at the end of 2011. According
to many commentators, Brazil's over-riding diplomatic aim is reform
of the Security Council, in order to increase its "legitimacy".
This reform would include a permanent UN Security Council seat
for Brazil which would act as the voice of the "global South".
The Brazilian Embassy told us that:
Consistent and continuous participation of developing
countries as permanent members is vital in order to award legitimacy
and efficacy to the Security Council. [
] There is an almost
unanimous view among Member States that the Security Council must
be enlarged in order to both better reflect present political
realities and to make the organization more representative, legitimate,
efficient and effective.
Neil Atkinson told us that reform of the UN Security
Council was "the ultimate goal of Brazilian diplomatic policy".
48. The British Government supports Brazil's
application for permanent membership, as part of a wider reform
of the Security Council.
Jeremy Browne told us that the UK's commitment to reform is long-standing
and that it would prefer to expand the permanent representation
to 10, to include Germany, Japan, India and Brazil, together with
a major African power. He suggested that such an arrangement may
require "two-tier" memberships where some permanent
members lack the right of veto currently enjoyed by the P5.
49. An argument sometimes advanced against a
permanent Brazilian presence on the Security Council is that Brazil
has not shown itself willing to accept the responsibilities attendant
upon being a global power: in particular, the duty to play a leadership
role in tackling international disputes, and assertively to defend
and promote human rights globally. Figures such as Jorge Castaneda,
former Mexican Foreign Minister, have stated that Brazil (and
fellow "BRICs", Russia, India and China):
remain attached to the rallying cries of their independence
or national liberation struggles: sovereignty, self-determination,
non-intervention, autonomous economic development. And today,
these notions often contradict the values enshrined in the international
Professor Hurrell told us that this view of Brazilas
a country "unready" to act globallywas particularly
prevalent in the US:
I was in New York all last year and heard lots of
language accusing Brazil, such as, "Brazil is an adolescent,
it hasn't really learned to grow up, it's got power but it doesn't
know how to use it".
50. We asked our witnesses their opinion on Brazil's
readiness to act as a global power or whether the UK's open support
of Brazil's claims to a permanent UN Security Council seat was
premature. Dr Riethof said that the reality of Brazil's "non-interventionism"
was more nuanced than that articulated by Mr Castaneda and that
Brazil does not eschew intervention as a concept. She noted that
while Brazil traditionally opposed military interventions, it
did support non-military intervention on humanitarian grounds,
and that, especially within Latin America, it was heavily involved
in conflict mediation. She speculated that Brazil hoped to become
a recognised "neutral" global power and play a mediator
role at the global levels.
Dr Riethof acknowledged that "Brazil is involved in conflict
mediation through the regional structure of the Union of South
American Nations", but added that "I am not entirely
sure whether that translates into a recognition of the responsibilities
in the Security Council".
51. Professor Hurrell told us that while "Brazil
is towards the sovereignty end of the spectrum, [...] there has
been quite a lot of movement towards ideas not of non-intervention
but of non-indifference about what happens, so there has been
movement there". He also suggested that domestic pressures
were forcing a rethink on Brazil's traditional, "non-interventionist"
foreign policy and its place in a reformed global order which
included Brazil as an acknowledged "power":
There is a big debate, though, about what the responsibility
of a permanent member actually involves. It clearly involves activities
in peace and security. [...]
The role of a broader membership could well be in
providing other assets of this mediation kind and other important
assets in terms of representation. So I think the Brazilian view
would be to press a broader debate about what "the responsibilities"
of permanent membership are. [...]
Is there broad support? Yes, there is much more interest
in foreign policy domestically. There is much more support for
an active foreign policy. There is much more contestation about
things like Brazil's Iranian policy.
He also stressed that this internal debate was not
yet complete and that Brazil's traditional doctrine of non-intervention
still held sway.
52. The FCO believes that Brazil is slowly moving
towards a less "hands off" stance in its international
President Rousseff has changed Brazilian policy on
human rights, as evidenced by the Brazilian vote in favour of
a Special Rapporteur on Human Rights for Iran in March 2011.
53. Brazil's leadership of the UN peacekeeping
operation to Haiti (MINSUTAH) has been interpreted by some as
a sign that it is more ready to accept a global "leadership"
role. Brazil currently contributes around 2,200 troops to UN missions,
chiefly to Haiti. In addition, Brazil contributes to the UN naval
mission off the coast of Lebanon.
Brazil's positions on Iran and Libya
54. Brazil's recent foreign policy actions with
regards to Iran and Libya provided us with a useful case study
of the country's role as an international actor.
55. President Lula was widely criticised for
the closeness of his links with President Ahmadinejad of Iran.
Towards the end of Lula's second term as President, Brazil and
Turkey attempted to intervene in the ongoing negotiations between
Iran and the so-called E3+3 group of countries (the US, Russia,
China, UK, France and Germany) over Iran's nuclear programme.
After refusing to support US-led calls for tighter sanctions against
Iran, in May 2010 Lula announced that Brazil had persuaded Iran
to send its uranium abroad for enrichment (echoing an earlier
suggestion put forward by the US). The initiative was dismissed
by the US government. Media commentators roundly criticised Lula's
efforts. Newsweek noted that this was part of what they
saw as a worrying trend in Lula's foreign policy:
Rather than using Brazil's prominence to press outlier
regions to respect human rights and comply with international
rules on nuclear power, Lula suddenly seems bent on ducking controversy
and accommodating demagogues. He routinely trades bear hugs with
Hugo Chavez [and] Brasília's diplomats abstained on a vote
"deploring the grave, widespread and systemic human-rights
abuses" in North Korea.
56. Lula was further criticised for defending
Ahmadinejad's "democratic" victory in the disputed 2009
Presidential election, and speaking out for Iran's right to enrich
uranium for nuclear energy and downplaying warnings that Iran
is developing nuclear weapons.
57. Brazil's foreign policy doctrine, which is
based around the concept of "national sovereignty",
was further tested during the recent UN votes on UN Security Council
Resolutions 1970 and 1973, both of which called for action against
Libya. Brazil abstained on the votes on both Resolutions. Speaking
following the adoption of UNSCR 1973, Brazil's representative
to the UN said that:
Brazil's abstention should not be interpreted as
an endorsement of the ruling regime in Libya, but the text of
the resolution before us contemplates measures that go much beyond
[the prevention of violence] call. We are not convinced that the
use of force as contemplated in the present resolution will lead
to the realisation of our most important objectivethe immediate
end of violence and the protection of civilians"
58. This position has been interpreted by some
commentators as a sign that Brazil remains unready to act as a
responsible global power. According to the Financial Times
it is an indication that "an expanded council would strengthen
the hand of the non-interventionists and weaken that of the West".
59. We asked Professor Hurrell and Dr Riethof
how Brazil's actions on Iran and Libya should be interpreted.
Professor Hurrell told us that Brazil's attempted initiative on
the Iran nuclear programme fitted Brazil's foreign policy narrative
and its belief that the country has an important, "alternative"
role to play in global affairs:
Even in some of the, what you term, "controversial"
policiesthe idea that Brazil [...] has a role in helping
to manage and mitigate some of the more obvious deep-rooted regional
problems that everyone recognises and some of the problems that
others, particularly the US, recognise, say in relation to Cuba
and Venezuelaits policy is clearly seen as part of a narrative
about what Brazil can do. That is not about the great, grand provisions
of some new global order, but important provisions of active diplomacy
and responsibility in its region.
Professor Hurrell also noted that Lula's engagement
with the Iranian regime was not unanimously supported in his own
country and should not automatically lead to conclusions about
Brazil's wider foreign policy:
Interestingly, of course, Lula's policy generated
this enormous debate and controversy inside Brazil about whether
it was a good thing or a bad thingrelations with Washington,
human rights, and all of that.
60. Dr Riethof suggested that Brazil's position
on Libya stems from "Brazil's traditional rejection of intervention
along the lines that were proposed in the resolution".
Dr Riethof agreed with Professor Hurrell that many of Brazil's
recent foreign policy actions stemmed from a desire to be seen
as an "alternative" global power.
61. Notwithstanding the various criticisms which
have been made of Brazil's foreign policy stance, Jeremy Browne
told us that he remained confident that Brazil's values were similar
to those of the UK, and that Brazil had abstained in the vote
on UNSCR 1973, not because of deep-rooted antipathy towards military
intervention, but because "Brazil [was] not fully persuaded.
If it was, it would not have abstained."
Mr Browne went on to say that "there are a handful of countries
in Latin America that we really struggle to see eye to eye with
on these matters. Brazil is definitely not one of those."
He further speculated that Brazil's, to some Western eyes, 'difficult'
positions on global matters could be attributed to the fact that
it was still in a state of transition towards a fully evolved
foreign policy which took account of its increased stature in
the [South American] continent as a whole, inasmuch
as one can generalise, has moved massively in the right direction,
as we would see it, over an accelerated period of time. Different
countries are at different steps in the process of how they respond
to those movements, consolidate them and analyse them.
62. Mr Browne agreed with Professor Hurrell and
Dr Riethof that Brazil was currently engaged in an internal debate
over its role as a global power:
there is a debate to be had [...] which was that
there are times when you do need to intervene to safeguard or
advance our values. There are other countries that are not completely
hostile to that idea, but would prefer somehow to try to reconcile
those two, even when it is a struggle to do so. From observing,
Brazil is in that position.
Mr Lapsley noted that while "many Latin American
countries are uncomfortable with hard-edged intervention",
there was a role for Brazil in promoting its "soft power"
and acting as an exemplar to others:
One of the things that we have been talking to Brazil
about is the way that it, as a model for economic and political
transition, in common with many other Latin American countries,
has an awful lot to offer the Arab world as it goes through its
own political and economic transition. Perhaps it is in that kind
of way that those countries can most helpfully get involved.
63. Mr Browne further stated his support for
Brazil as a global actor and expressed his approval of recent
changes in Brazil's foreign policy under President Rousseff:
I do not want us to feel that it is only countries
like the United Kingdom, France and the United States that are
allowed to have a global view and that somehow the Brazilians
should not be thinking beyond their own continent. It is entirely
legitimate for them to have that wider role, but it is how they
choose to exercise that wider role. My view is that the choice
they took a few years ago was not wise. Voting on the Special
Rapporteur on Human Rights was the right way to go and the best
decision that they could have made. I hope that that is indicative
of Brazil using its global role in ways that are more compatible
with our objectives in the future.
These comments by Mr Browne echoed the proposal by
Dr Riethof that the UK should openly welcome Brazil's rise. She
told us that the UK should:
recognise Brazil's various foreign policy roles and
various formats and regions and to use that also to support a
Brazilian role at a global level, even if that does not immediately
translate into a permanent seat at the Security Council. As you
probably know, US support for Brazil as a permanent member has
not been expressed openly, and China is apparently also not necessarily
supporting a Brazilian bid, so some support may be useful for
a Brazilian campaign in that direction.
64. We conclude that the UK's
explicit support for Brazil's permanent membership of the UN Security
Council, as part of wider UN reform, is to be welcomed. We believe
that Brazil has a potentially valuable role to play on the global
stage, drawing upon the prestige and legitimacy conferred by its
rising economy, its commitment to democracy, and its status and
experience as a member of the developing "South". We
recommend that the Government should continue to seek to act in
close partnership with Brazil at the UN and in other international
fora, and should encourage Brazil increasingly to take on the
responsibilities associated with being a major global power. In
this context we welcome the recent development of Brazilian foreign
policy under President Dilma Rousseff, particularly with regards
to the promotion of human rights in other countries.
52 http://www.adh-geneva.ch/RULAC/index.php (Geneva
Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights) Back
Q 95 Back
Andrew Hurrell, "What kind of rising state in what kind of
institutional order?" Rising States, Rising Institutions,
p 9 Back
The "G77" was established in 1964 as a caucus of 77
developing countries within the UN. There are currently 131 members
of the G77, including some "developed" or "semi-developed"
countries, including China, India and Brazil. http://www.g77.org/ Back
Ev 46, paras 22-23 Back
Q 125 Back
Ev 50, para 29 Back
Q 17 Back
Ev 46, para 23 Back
Q 131 Back
Jorge G. Castaneda, "Not Ready for Prime Time", Foreign
Affairs, September/October 2010, pp 112-113 Back
Q 97 Back
Q 104-106 Back
Q 106 Back
Q 107 Back
Q 107 Back
Ev 46, para 25 Back
Mac Margolis, "Rogue Diplomacy", Newsweek, 7
May 2010 Back
See: "Lula defends Ahmadinejad's Nuclear Goal, Plans Visit
to Iran", Bloomberg, 23 September 2011, and "Ahmadinejad
in Brazil: Why Lula defies the US", Time Magazine,
25 November 2011. Back
Maria Luisa Viotti, Speech following adoption of UN Resolution
1973, http://www.brasil.gov.br/news/history/2011/03/18/adoption-of-united-nations-security-council-resolution-1973-on-libya/newsitem_view?set_language=en Back
"BRIC abstentions point to bigger UN battle", Financial
Times, 18 March 2011 Back
Q 100 Back
Q 103 Back
Q 104 Back
Q 144 Back
Q 144 Back
Q 144 Back
Q 145 Back
Q 147 Back
Q 107 Back