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Brazil Multilateral Relations
Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook
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    Most foreign policy strategies and decisions originate within Itamaraty. A senior diplomat always occupies the position of foreign affairs adviser within the president's office, and diplomats occupy similar liaison positions in key ministries. Since the 1980s, Itamaraty, in response to the growing complexity of foreign policy issues, has established new divisions dealing with export promotion, environmental affairs, science and technology, and human rights. Itamaraty also established the International Relations Research Institute (Instituto das Pesquisas das Relações Internacionais--IPRI) as part of the Alexandre Gusmão Foundation, which functions as a think tank and conference center and publishes foreign policy studies.

    The Senate and Chamber of Deputies each have foreign affairs standing committees. Under the 1988 constitution, the Senate expanded its treaty approval prerogative to include all international financial agreements, such as negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF--see Glossary) and international banks, which in the past had been the exclusive prerogative of the executive branch (see The Military in the Amazon, ch. 5). The Congress also has involved itself in major government contracts with foreign companies, such as the contract with Raytheon for an Amazon surveillance system.

    The Brazilian Cooperation Agency (Agência Brasileira de Cooperacão--ABC), a foreign aid agency formally established in the late 1980s, coordinates all international technical cooperation and assistance received by Brazil from foreign donors (often, but not always, within the context of bilateral agreements). For example, in the absence of a United States-Brazil bilateral agreement, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) programs in Brazil are not coordinated through the ABC. The ABC also coordinates Brazilian international technical cooperation and assistance directed to other countries, mostly through South-South relationships conducted by Brazilian government agencies, universities, and NGOs.

    At times other agencies may take the lead in foreign policy decision making. For example, in June 1995 the economic sector, led by the Ministry of Planning, made the initial decision to impose quotas on imported automobiles. This decision provoked a crisis within the Common Market of the South (Mercado Comum do Sul--Mercosul; see Glossary)--because Argentine automobile exports to Brazil would have been affected. Itamaraty intervened, and a solution was negotiated excepting Mercosul from the rigors of the measure.

    The military had the final say on foreign policy during the 1964-85 period, when foreign policy was decided frequently within the National Security Council (Conselho de Segurança Nacional--CSN). Since then the military occasionally has exercised some influence. When the United Nations (UN) requested Brazilian troops for a peacekeeping force in Namibia during the delicate, pre-election phase of transition in 1991, Itamaraty was favorable, but the army vetoed the initiative. The reverse occurred in 1995. After a successful peacekeeping mission in Mozambique in 1993-94, the army, in search of new missions, approved sending a battalion to the peacekeeping operation in Angola. However, for reasons of economic austerity the ministries of Planning and Finance delayed the appropriation until 1996.

    Multilateral Relations

    Brazil was a founding member of the League of Nations (see Glossary) in 1920 and the UN in 1945, and has chaired the UN Security Council on several occasions. Brazil is also an active participant in the Organization of American States (OAS; see Glossary), IMF, World Bank (see Glossary), Inter-American Development Bank (IADB; see Glossary), African Development Bank (ADB), World Trade Organization (WTO, which now administers the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade--GATT; see Glossary), International Commodity Organization (coffee, cocoa beans), and Antarctic Treaty. International pressures have been strong on Brazil to join certain agreements, such as the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which Brazil announced its decision to sign on June 20, 1997. Brazil joined the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR--see Glossary) in October 1995.

    Brazil has participated in UN peacekeeping operations since the Suez Crisis in 1956. A Brazilian contingent participated in the UN observer force that guaranteed the October 1994 elections in Mozambique, and in the UN observer force in Bosnia in 1995. Regarding the latter, a Brazilian general commanded a force of 680 observers, of whom thirty-four were Brazilians. In May 1995, two Brazilian officers were among the several hundred UN observers captured by the Bosnian Serbs and used as human shields against further NATO bombings. The number of Brazilian personnel attached to UN peacekeeping operations has gradually declined from 1,166 in August 1996 to forty-eight in September 1997. Because of its active participation in UN activities and its status as a middle-level emerging economic and political power, Brazil aspires to a permanent seat on the Security Council, if and when membership in this body is expanded.

    Data as of April 1997

    NOTE: The information regarding Brazil on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies and the CIA World Factbook. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Brazil Multilateral Relations information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Brazil Multilateral Relations should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.

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Revised 10-Nov-04
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