What is it about?

This paper analyzes the multilateral Brazilian foreign policy, making the country a regional pivot in Latin America, a leading nation among developing countries, and an emerging world power. Without the status of nuclear power, Brazil establishes asymmetrical alliances to earn a place in a reformed UN Security Council, but must contend the seat with accredited competitors, such as India, as well a strategic partner, and counteract some riotous neighbors, as Mexico and Argentina. Meanwhile, through the establishment and the membership in several international organizations and multilateral mechanisms, Brasília developes a worldwide policy, maneuvering between new and old alliances, and playing a 'winning and losing carambole game'. Will the chrysalis turn into a butterfly?

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Why is it important?

Brazilian foreign policy is characterized by multilateralism, and by the establishment and the membership in many international organizations and coordination mechanisms. Where there is no direct, Brasília extends its relations with a 'winning and losing carambole game'. Brazil has formed an alliance with all countries that support the need for reform of global governance, starting with the UN and its Security Council, including WTO, FMI and World Bank, leading the protest of developing countries against the Western conservatism of international institutions. Brazil has implemented a regional strategy, as well as a global one, to earn a place among the most influential nations in the world: an exclusive club, which not only takes into account the economic wealth and population of the country, but also military power - especially nuclear deterrence power -, space power, and other variables as technological power.


Despite its multilateral economic relations, the Brazilian economy is overly dependent on exports to the United States, European Union, China, and India, in order to overcome the latter in the race for a permanent seat in a reformed UN Security Council, which certifies the achievement of 'superpower' status. In an effort to carve out a leading role in the emerging new world order, Brazil exerts its soft power to ensure international security: from humanitarian aid to assistance in state and nation building. In the background is the specter of failure in 1926, when Brazil was played around for a seat in the Council of the League of Nations, and ended up being forced to leave the organization. This time the Brazilian multilateral strategy must be a 'winning hazard'. The strategy of Brasília to come out of the 'always emerging' powers, involves huge costs, because of the ambitious military and space programs. The current economic situation, which, after many years of growth, marked a setback, along with the enormous social inequalities anchors in the country, advise against continuing along this path. Brazilian policymakers, however, do not seem willing to give up dreams of grandeur, too long chased.

Dr Marco Marsili
Centro de Investigação do Instituto de Estudos Políticos da Universidade Católica Portuguesa (CIEP-UCP)

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This page is a summary of: Brazil: the Carambole Strategy of a Rising Power 10.5102/uri.v13i1.3317, Universitas Relações Internacionais, July 2015, Programa de Mestrado e Doutorado em Direito do Uniceub, DOI: 10.5102/uri.v13i1.3317.
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