Explaining Brazil as a rising state, 2003‒2014: the role of policy diffusion as an international regulatory instrument

Henrique Menezes, Marco Vieira

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In this paper, we examine Brazil’s international activism and ascent to the status of rising state during the presidencies of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (2003–2010) and his chosen successor, Dilma Rousseff (2011–2014). We focus on the dissemination of social policies under an innovative model of development that reflected the political and economic context of a developing country. We argue that this activism was framed in terms of Brazil’s socio-economic and cultural peculiarities, whereby these were treated not as obstacles but as positive contributions to developing states’ attempts to reform global governance structures. We argue that this reflects an alternative form of foreign policy politicisation in which the social dilemmas, particularities and contradictions of the Brazilian experience are incorporated in the foreign policy agenda to leverage its international stature as a rising state. We explain how Brazil’s international cooperation through transferring its public policies and development models (policies for fighting hunger and poverty, agrarian development and income generation) to its Southern partners has been discursively articulated as representing Brazil’s normative potential to contribute to political and institutional solutions, and rebuild norms and standards that affect the distribution of international power and wealth.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of International Relations and Development
Early online date22 May 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 May 2021


  • Brazil
  • International development
  • International norms
  • Policy diffusion
  • Policy transfer
  • Rising states


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