After decades of constant, yet limited, participation in multilateral interventions, Brazil emerged as a significant contributor to UN interventions in 2004 with its assumption of a strong leadership role in MINUSTAH, the UN peace operation in Haiti. Beginning in 2009, it became a major player in the global normative debates on intervention, including the responsibility to protect (R2P). Brazil’s major contribution has been a concept note launched in November 2011 entitled “responsibility while protecting.” The note—an important advance in the normative conversation in its own right—reflects the origins of Brazil’s posture on R2P in a combination of elements.
These elements include the country’s self-identification as an “emerging power”; its alignment with the BRICS and the attendant question of its alignment vis-à-vis the current institutional distribution of influence; its move away from an anchoring in continental traditions to the concerns and dilemmas of a global player; and the increasing importance of peace operations and larger security concerns in its global posture. Finally, while much of Brazil’s rise to prominence on the R2P circuit occurred under the Lula da Silva administration (2001-2010) or in its wake, the country’s diplomatic profile and its overall global presence—including, clearly, in the R2P and intervention debates—has diminished considerably under the presidency of Dilma Rousseff (2011-).