Brazil and R2P: A case of agency and norm entrepreneurship in the Global South



Published online before print July 21, 2016, doi: 10.1177/0047117816659594

International Relations July 21, 2016 0047117816659594 (access here)

Click here for the introduction of the special issue "Critical perspectives on the Responsibility to Protect: BRICS and beyond". 

Brazil and R2P: A case of agency and norm entrepreneurship in the Global South

Oliver Stuenkel, Getulio Vargas Foundation, São Paulo-SP, 01311200, Brazil. Email:


This article questions the still broadly accepted notion that the global debate about Responsibility to Protect (R2P) is divided into a Western (or Northern) ‘pro-R2P’ camp and a non-Western (or Southern) ‘anti-R2P camp’. In the same way, the relatively broadly accepted assertion that R2P is a Western concept overlooks the important contributions developing countries have made in the creation of the norm. Brazil’s stance vis-à-vis R2P, analyzed in this article, is a powerful example of this reality, and the country has, in the past years, temporarily assumed leadership in the discussion about how to strengthen the norm. Paradoxically, Brazil’s move was widely seen as obstructionist. This points to a broader bias that tends observers not to grant non-Western powers the same agency in the creation of rules and norms. The ongoing multipolarization will force observers to correct this vision, as countries in the Global South such as China will be increasingly able to ‘act upon’ R2P, a capacity that so far has been reserved for established powers.

Read also:

The BRICS and the Future of R2P: Was Syria or Libya the Exception?

Emerging Powers and Status: The Case of the First BRICs Summit

The Financial Crisis, Contested Legitimacy, and the Genesis of Intra-BRICS Cooperation