International Politics

, Volume 56, Issue 4, pp 457–476 | Cite as

The precarious role of emerging powers in a transforming international order: the Brazilian and Turkish initiative for a nuclear deal with Iran

  • Ariel Gonzalez Levaggi
  • Suhnaz YilmazEmail author
Original Article


This article analyzes the complex dynamics of international hierarchy and functional delegation among established and emerging powers, by focusing on one of the most pressing and highly debated issues of the global security agenda, nuclear non-proliferation. While the established powers delegate some responsibilities in mediation efforts to enhance the legitimacy of the liberal international order, this delegation of a mediator role has challenges and limitations, as well. Therefore, this article examines the Joint Declaration by Iran, Turkey and Brazil (Tehran Declaration) on nuclear fuel in May 2010 as an empirical case that reveals the challenging quest of emerging powers to elevate their position in the hierarchical pyramid of the international order. We argue that the Nuclear Deal reflects the limits of the functional delegation in the international order, since the emerging powers encounter difficulties in their mediation efforts, particularly when they want to display more foreign policy autonomy.


Iran nuclear deal Brazil Turkey International order Hierarchy Functional delegation 



We would like to thank TUBITAK (BIDEB 2219) grant for the financial support. The authors would also like to acknowledge Luskin School of Public Affairs and Luskin Center for Innovation, UCLA, for facilitating this research project and JR Deshazo and Ziya Onis for their invaluable support and comments. We would like to thank Jean Bennett and Nina Ergin for their able assistance in editing.


  1. Abdenur, A. 2016. Rising powers in stormy seas: Brazil and the UNIFIL maritime task force. International Peacekeeping 23 (3): 389–415.Google Scholar
  2. Abdenur, A., and M. Folly. 2015. The New Development Bank and the Institutionalization of the BRICS. R/evolutions 3 (1): 66–95.Google Scholar
  3. Acharya, A. 2014. The End of American World Order. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  4. Al Jazeera. 2010. UN discusses Iran sanctions deal, 18 May,, acceded 10 June 2017.
  5. Altunısık, M. 2005. The Turkish model and democratization in the middle east. Arab Studies Quarterly 27 (1/2): 45–63.Google Scholar
  6. Altunısık, M., and L. Martin. 2011. Making sense of Turkish foreign policy in the Middle East under AKP. Turkish Studies 12 (4): 569–587.Google Scholar
  7. Amar, P. 2012. Global south to the rescue: Emerging humanitarian superpowers and globalizing rescue industries. Globalizations 9 (1): 1–13.Google Scholar
  8. Amorim, C. 2010. Brazilian foreign policy under President Lula (2003–2010): An overview. Revista Brasileira de Política Internacional 53: 214–240.Google Scholar
  9. Amorim, C. 2015. Teerã, Ramalá e Doha—Memórias da política externa Ativa e altiva. Sao Pablo: Saraiva.Google Scholar
  10. Amorim, C., and Davutoğlu, A. 2010. Giving diplomacy a chance, New York Times, 26 May.Google Scholar
  11. Aras, B., and E. Yorulmazlar. 2016. State, region, and order: Geopolitics of the Arab spring. Third World Quarterly 37 (12): 2259–2273.Google Scholar
  12. Balci, A., and N. Mis. 2008. Turkey’s role in the ‘Alliance of Civilizations’: A new perspective in Turkish foreign policy? Turkish Studies 9 (3): 387–406.Google Scholar
  13. Baldwin, D. 2000. Success and failure in foreign policy. Annual Review of Political Science 3: 167–182.Google Scholar
  14. Barnett, M., and R. Duvall. 2005. Power in international relations. International Organization 59 (1): 39–75.Google Scholar
  15. Bayer, R., and F. Keyman. 2012. Turkey: An emerging hub of globalization and internationalist humanitarian actor? Globalizations 9 (1): 73–90.Google Scholar
  16. Dal, E.P. 2016. Conceptualising and testing the ‘emerging regional power’ of Turkey in the shifting international order. Third World Quarterly 37 (8): 1425–1453.Google Scholar
  17. Davutoğlu, A. 2001. Stratejik Derinlik. Istanbul: Küre Yayınları.Google Scholar
  18. Davutoğlu, A. 2008. Turkey’s foreign policy vision: An assessment of 2007. Insight Turkey 10 (1): 77–96.Google Scholar
  19. Escudé, C. 2015a. Realism in the periphery. In Routledge handbook of Latin America in the world, ed. J. C. Domínguez, Ana, 45–57. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  20. Escudé, C. 2015b. Who commands, who obeys, and who rebels. Latin American security in a peripheral-realist perspective. In Routledge handbook of Latin American security, ed. D. Mares, and A. Kacowicz, 56–66. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  21. Escudé, C., and L. Schenoni. 2016. Peripheral realism revisited. Revista Brasileira de Política Internacional 59 (1): e002.Google Scholar
  22. Ferreira, C., and A. Cunha. 2015. Brasil como miembro no permanente del Consejo de Seguridad de las Naciones Unidas en el mandato 2010-2011. Foro Internacional 55 (4): 1054–1081.Google Scholar
  23. Flemes, D. 2007. Emerging middle powers’ soft balancing strategy: State and perspectives of the IBSA dialogue forum GIGA Research Programme: Violence, Power and Security.Google Scholar
  24. Folha de S. Paulo. 2010. Leia íntegra traduzida da carta de Barack Obama a Lula sobre acordo com o Irã, 27 May, Acceded 17 Oct 2017.
  25. Fontaine, R., and D. Kliman. 2013. International Order and Global Swing States. The Washington Quarterly 36 (1): 93–109.Google Scholar
  26. Fukuyama, F. 2006. After the neocons: America at the crossroads. London: Profile.Google Scholar
  27. Grevi, G. 2009. The interpolar world: A new scenario. In Occasional Paper, ed. T. I. W. A. N. Scenario (Vol. 79). Paris.Google Scholar
  28. Haass, R. 2008. The age of nonpolarity: What will follow U.S. dominance. Foreign Affairs 87 (3): 44–56.Google Scholar
  29. Hart, A., and B. Jones. 2010. How do rising powers rise? Survival 52 (6): 63–88.Google Scholar
  30. Herz, Monica. 2011. Brazil: Major Power in the Making? In Major powers and the quest for status in international politics, ed. Thomas J. Volgy, Renato Corbetta, Keith A. Grant, and Ryan G. Baird, 159–179. New York: Palgrave Macmillan US.Google Scholar
  31. Huelsz, C. 2009. Middle power theories and emerging powers in international political economy: A case study of Brazil. (PhD), University of Manchester.Google Scholar
  32. Hurrell, A. 2006. Hegemony, liberalism and global order: What space for would-be great powers? International Affairs 82 (1): 1–19.Google Scholar
  33. Jones, B., C. Pascual, and S. Stedman. 2010. Power and responsibility: Building international order in an era of transnational threats. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.Google Scholar
  34. Jung, D. 2005. Turkey and the Arab world: Historical narratives and new political realities. Mediterranean Politics 10 (1): 1–17.Google Scholar
  35. Kahler, M. 2013. Rising powers and global governance: Negotiating change in a resilient status quo. International Affairs 89 (3): 711–729.Google Scholar
  36. Keyman, F. 2016. Turkish foreign policy in the post-Arab Spring era: From proactive to buffer state. Third World Quarterly 37 (12): 2274–2287.Google Scholar
  37. Kirişci, K. 2009. The transformation of Turkish foreign policy: The rise of the trading state. New Perspectives on Turkey 40: 29–57.Google Scholar
  38. Kubicek, P., E. Dal, and T. Oğuzlu. 2015. Turkey’s Rise as an Emerging Power. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  39. Kugler, J., and A.F. Organski. 1989. The power transition. In Handbook of war studies, ed. M. Midlarsky, 171–194. Boston: Unwin Hyman.Google Scholar
  40. Lafer, C., and G. Fonseca Jr. 1994. Questões para a diplomacia no contexto internacional das polaridades indefinidas. In Temas de política externa brasileira II, vol. 1, ed. G. Fonseca Jr., and S. Nabuco Castro, 44–77. São Paulo: Ipri/Paz e Terra.Google Scholar
  41. Lampreia, L.F. 2014. Aposta em Teerã: o acordo nuclear entre Brasil, Turquia e Irã. Rio de Janeiro: Objetiva.Google Scholar
  42. Lemke, D. 2002. Regions of war and peace. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Malamud, A. 2011. A leader without followers? The growing divergence between the regional and global performance of Brazilian foreign policy. Latin American Politics and Society 53 (3): 1–24.Google Scholar
  44. Mathews, J. 1997. Power Shift. Foreign Affairs 76 (1): 50–66.Google Scholar
  45. Mearsheimer, J. 2006. China’s unpeaceful rise. Current History 105 (690): 160–162.Google Scholar
  46. Metais, R. 2013. Can emerging powers call the shots? Brazil, Turkey and alternative approaches towards Iran. Conference on EU & the emerging powers. 29 and 30 April 2013. European Parliament, Brussels.Google Scholar
  47. Murinson, A. 2006. The strategic depth doctrine of Turkish foreign policy. Middle Eastern Studies. 42 (6): 945–964.Google Scholar
  48. NBCNews. 2010. Ahmadinejad: Iran is now a ‘nuclear state’. 11 February, Accessed 10 June 2017.
  49. Nye, J.S. 2002. The paradox of American power: why the world’s only superpower can’t go it alone. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  50. Nye, J.S. 2004. Soft power: The means to success in world politics, 1st ed. New York: Public Affairs.Google Scholar
  51. Öniş, Z. 2014. Turkey and the Arab revolutions: Boundaries of middle power influence in a turbulent middle east. Mediterranean Politics 19 (2): 1–17.Google Scholar
  52. Öniş, Z., and M. Kutlay. 2013. Rising powers in a changing global order: The political economy of Turkey in the age of Brics Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Third World Quarterly 34: 1409–1426.Google Scholar
  53. Öniş, Z., and M. Kutlay. 2016. The dynamics of emerging middle power influence in regional and global governance: The paradoxical case of Turkey. Australian Journal of International Affairs 71 (2): 164–183.Google Scholar
  54. Öniş, Z., and S. Yılmaz. 2009. Between Europeanization and Euro-Asianism: Foreign policy activism in Turkey during the AKP era. Turkish Studies 10 (1): 7–24.Google Scholar
  55. Öniş, Z., and S. Yılmaz. 2016. Turkey and Russia in a shifting global order: Cooperation, conflict and asymmetric interdependence in a turbulent region. Third World Quarterly 37 (1): 71–95.Google Scholar
  56. Organski, A.F. 1968. World politics, 2nd ed. New York: Knopf.Google Scholar
  57. Ozkan, M. 2011. Turkey-Brazil involvement in Iranian nuclear issue: What is the big deal? Strategic Analysis 35 (1): 26–30.Google Scholar
  58. Pape, R. 2005. Soft balancing against the United States. International Security 30 (1): 7–45.Google Scholar
  59. Posen, B. 2003. Command of the commons: The military foundation of U.S. hegemony. International Security 28 (1): 5–46.Google Scholar
  60. Ramalho da Rocha, A., and Sardo da Abreu Pereira, M. 2014. Iran Talks: Das Palavras aos Atos. A Declaração de Teerã e o Plano de Ação Conjunto de Genebra em Perspectiva. Contexto Internacional 36(2): 655–682.Google Scholar
  61. Renard, T. 2009. A BRIC in the world: Emerging powers, Europe, and the coming order egmont paper, vol. 31. London: The Royal Institute for International Relations.Google Scholar
  62. Renard, T. 2010. G20: Towards a new world order. Studia Diplomatica 53 (2): 7–21.Google Scholar
  63. Reuters. 2010. Text: Powers dismiss Iran fuel offer before U.N. vote, June 9, Acceded 10 Oct 2017.
  64. Rojas, Molano. 2010. Un mundo sin polos: Hipótesis sobre la Seguridad Internacional en el siglo XXI. Revista Política Colombiana 4: 62–71.Google Scholar
  65. Sandal, N. 2014. Middle power hood as a legitimation strategy in developing world: the cases of Brazil and Turkey. International Politics 51 (6): 693–708.Google Scholar
  66. Santos, R., and T. Cravo. 2014. Brazil’s rising profile in United Nations peacekeeping operations since the end of the Cold War NOREF Policy. Oslo: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution.Google Scholar
  67. Sauer, T. 2011. The emerging powers and the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime Egmont Security Policy Brief, vol. 27. Brussels: Egmont Institute.Google Scholar
  68. Schweller, R. 2011. Emerging powers in an age of disorder. Global Governance 17: 285–297.Google Scholar
  69. Schweller, R., and X. Pu. 2011. After unipolarity: China’s visions of international order in an era of U.S. decline. International Security 36 (1): 41–72.Google Scholar
  70. Sever-Mehmetoglu, D., and S. Yılmaz. 2016. Energy dynamics in Turkish foreign policy: Asset or liability? Uluslararasi Iliskiler/International Relations 13 (52): 105–128.Google Scholar
  71. Sinkaya, B. 2012. Rationalization of Turkey–Iran relations: Prospects and limits. Insight Turkey 14 (2): 137–156.Google Scholar
  72. Soares De Lima, M., and M. Hirst. 2006. Brazil as an intermediate state and regional power: Action, choice and responsibilities. International Affairs 82 (1): 21–40.Google Scholar
  73. Spanakos, A., and J. Marques. 2014. Brazil's Rise as a Middle Power: The Chinese Contribution. In Middle Powers and the Rise of China, ed. B. Gilley, and A. O'Neil, 213–236. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.Google Scholar
  74. Spektor, M. 2009. Brazil as a regional and emerging global power policy briefing (Vol. 9). Johannesburg: South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA).Google Scholar
  75. Spektor, M. 2010. How to read Brazil’s stance on Iran, Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved from Acceded 10 Oct 2017.
  76. Spektor, M. 2014. 18 dias: quando Lula e FHC se uniram para conquistar o apoio de Bush. Rio de Janeiro: Objetiva.Google Scholar
  77. Stewart, P. 2010. Irresponsible stakeholders? The difficulty of integrating rising powers. Foreign Affairs 89 (6): 44–53.Google Scholar
  78. Stuenkel, O. 2015. The BRICS and the future of global order. Lanham: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
  79. Tank, P. 2012. The concept of “rising powers”. NOREF (Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre).Google Scholar
  80. The Guardian. 2010. Text of the Iran–Brazil–Turkey deal. Retrieved from Acceded 10 October 2017.
  81. Vieira de Jesus, D. 2011. Building trust and flexibility: a Brazilian view of the fuel swap with Iran. The Washington Quarterly 34 (2): 61–75.Google Scholar
  82. Volgy, T., R. Corbetta, K. Grant, and R. Baird. 2011. Major powers and the quest for status in international politics: Global and regional perspectives, 1st ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  83. Waltz, K.N. 1979. Theory of international politics, 1st ed. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  84. Wohlforth, W. 1999. The stability of a unipolar world. International Security 24 (1): 5–41.Google Scholar
  85. World Bank. 2016. Gross domestic product 2016, World Bank Data.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of International Relations, College of Administrative Sciences and EconomicsKoc UniversityIstanbulTurkey
  2. 2.Luskin School of Public AffairsUCLALos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Department of Political Science and International RelationsPontifical Catholic University of ArgentinaBuenos AiresArgentina

Personalised recommendations