Brazil’s Evolving “Balancing Act” on the Use of Force in Multilateral Operations: From Robust Peacekeeping to “Responsibility While Protecting”

  • Eduarda Passarelli Hamann
  • Maria Gabrielsen JumbertEmail author


At the UN General Assembly in 2011, Brazil put forward the need for a “responsibility while protecting” (RwP). The initiative made reference to the well-known and long-debated principle of “responsibility to protect” (R2P), and was seen as a direct response to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)-led intervention in Libya in March of that year. The message was: in situations where the international community has a responsibility to protect, it should at a minimum also have a responsibility for its actions while protecting. Yet, despite being seen as bold in the way it appeared as engaging directly with the established idea of R2P, it was actually more in contrast with traditional Brazilian principles of non-intervention and restricted use of force. Specifying the responsibilities while protecting presupposes an acceptance of the application of the responsibility to protect in certain cases. The mere initiative created worldwide expectations that Brazil would champion the new concept and develop it further, which did not match Brazil’s own ambitions. Understanding this mismatch of expectations, and where the proposition came from, requires an analysis of the broader context of Brazil’s stance on intervention and use of force.


  1. Abdenur, Adriana Erthal. 2016. Rising Powers in Stormy Seas: Brazil and the UNIFIL Maritime Task Force. International Peacekeeping 23 (3): 389–415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adler-Nissen, Rebecca, and Vincent Pouliot. 2014. Power in Practice: Negotiating the International Intervention in Libya. European Journal of International Relations 20: 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Almeida, Paula. 2013. From Non-indifference to Responsibility while Protecting: Brazil’s Diplomacy and the Search for Global Norms. SAIIA, Occasional Paper No. 138. April.
  4. Amar, Paul. 2012. Global South to the Rescue: Emerging Humanitarian Superpowers and Globalizing Rescue Industries. Globalizations 9 (1): 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Amaral, Marina and Natália Viana. 2011. Experiência militar brasileira no Haiti contribuiu para a instalação das UPPs no Rio. Opera Mundi, September 27.
  6. Benner, Thorsten. 2013. Brazil as a Norm Entrepreneur: The ‘Responsibility While Protecting’ Initiative. GPPi Working Paper.|fileadmin/media/pub/2013/Benner_2013_Working-Paper_Brazil-RwP.pdf
  7. Braga, Carlos. 2009. MINUSTAH’s Success in Improving the Security Environment in Haiti and the ‘Brazilian Way of Peacekeeping’: A View from the Field. Paper Presented at the ISA – ABRI Joint International Meeting, 22–24 July 2009, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
  8. ———. 2010. MINUSTAH and the Security Environment in Haiti: Brazil and South American Cooperation in the Field. International Peacekeeping 17 (5): 711–722. Special Issue: South American Perspectives on Peace Operations.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dziedzic, Michael, and Robert Perito. 2008. Haiti: Confronting the Gangs of Port-au-Prince, United States Institute of Peace Special Report, September 1st, 2008.
  10. European Affairs. 2006. “Contemporary Peacekeeping Is State-Building: The UN Embraces ‘Robust Peacekeeping’ Including Use of Force”, European Affairs: Volume number 7, Issue number 1–2 in the Spring/Summer of 2006 – A Conversation with Jean-Marie Guéhenno. European Institute.
  11. Evans, Gareth. 2012. Responsibility While Protecting. Project Syndicate.
  12. Feldman, Andreas, and Juan Montes. 2013. Learning to Be Likeminded – Chile’s Involvement in Global Security and Peace Operations Since the End of the Cold War. In South America and Peace Operations – Coming of Age, ed. Kai Kenkel. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. Finnemore, Martha, and Kathryn Sikkink. 1998. International Norm Dynamics and Political Change. International Organization 52 (Autumn): 887–917.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fontoura, Paulo. 2005. O Brasil e as operações de manutenção da paz das Nações Unidas. Brasília: IRBr and FUNAG. Scholar
  15. Hamann, Eduarda. 2012a. Brazil and R2P: A Rising Global Player Struggles to Harmonise Discourse and Practice. In Responsibility to Protect, from Evasive to Reluctant Action – The Role of Global Middle Powers, ed. Malte Brosig. Johannesburg: HSF, ISS, KAS and SAIIA. Scholar
  16. ———. 2012b. The Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict and Brazil’s ‘Responsibility While Protecting’. NOREF Policy Brief.
  17. ———. 2016. A Path Forged over Time: Brazil and the UN Missions. Igarapé Institute. Strategic Note 19. June.
  18. Hamann, Eduarda, and Robert Muggah, eds. 2013. Implementing the Responsibility to Protect: New Directions for International Peace and Security?. Igarapé Institute.
  19. Holt, Victoria, and Tobias Berkman. 2006. The Impossible Mandate? Military Preparedness, the Responsibility to Protect and Modern Peace Operations. The Henry L. Stimson Center.
  20. Johnstone, Ian. 2006. Dilemmas of Robust Peace Operations. Annual Review of Global Peace Operations.
  21. Kenkel, Kai Michael. 2010. South America’s Emerging Power: Brazil as Peacekeeper. International Peacekeeping 17 (5): 644–661.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kenkel, Kai Michael, and Philip Cunliffe. 2016. Introduction: Rebels or Aspirants: Rising Powers, Normative Contestation, and Intervention. In Brazil as a Rising Power: Intervention Norms and the Contestation of Global Order, ed. K.M. Kenkel and P. Cunliffe. Routledge: Global Institutions.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kenkel, Kai Michael, and Cristina Stefan. 2016. Brazil and the “Responsibility While Protecting” Initiative: Norms and the Timing of Diplomatic Support. Global Governance 22 (1): 41–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Morneau, Jacques. 2006. Reflections on the Situation in Haiti and Ongoing UN Mission. In Haiti – Hope for a Fragile State, ed. Yasmin Shamsie and Andrew Thompson. Waterloo: Centre for International Governance Innovation.Google Scholar
  25. Muggah, Robert, Ivan Campbell, Eduarda Hamann, Gustavo Diniz, and Marina Motta. 2013. Promoting Peace in the Post-2015 Framework. The Role of Rising Powers: Brazil. Saferworld/Igarapé, February.Google Scholar
  26. Norheim-Martinsen, Per-Martin. 2012. Brazil: An Emerging Peacekeeping Actor. NOREF Report, November.Google Scholar
  27. Palma, Najla. 2015. A Manutenção da Paz (no Haiti) e a Justiça (no Brasil): uma reflexão sobre o impacto da MINUSTAH no sistema jurídico militar brasileiro. In Brasil e Haiti – Reflexões sobre os 10 anos da missão de paz e o futuro da cooperação após 2016, ed. Hamann. Rio de Janeiro: Instituto Igarapé. Scholar
  28. Refugees International. 2005. Haiti: Brazilian Troops in MINUSTAH Must Intervene to Stop Violence, 18 March 2005. Available at: Accessed 13 Aug 2019.
  29. Serbin, Andrés, and Andrei Serbin Pont. 2015. Brazil’s Responsibility While Protecting: A Failed Attempt of Global South Norm Innovation? Pensamiento Própio 41 20 (Jan–Jul 2015).
  30. Sotomayor, Arturo. 2014. The Myth of the Democratic Peacekeeper. Civil-Military Relations and the United Nations. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Spektor, Matias. 2012. Humanitarian Interventionism Brazilian Style? Americas Quarterly (Summer): 54–59.Google Scholar
  32. Stuenkel, Oliver. 2013. Brazil as a Norm Entrepreneur: The Responsibility While Protecting. In Implementing the Responsibility to Protect: New Directions for International Peace and Security? ed. Hamann and Muggah. Rio de Janeiro: Igarapé Institute. March. Scholar
  33. Tourinho, Marcos, Oliver Stuenkel, and Sarah Brockmeier. 2015. Responsibility While Protecting. Reforming R2P Implementation. Global Society. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. United Nations. 2008. Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and Department of Field Support (DFS). United Nations Peacekeeping Operations – Principles and Guidelines (“Capstone Doctrine”).
  35. Vendramin, Ricardo. 2015. Interview to Eduarda Hamann by the Then Military Commander of the Brazilian Peace Operations Joint Training Center (CCOPAB), October.Google Scholar
  36. ———. n.d. Training for the Deployed Brazilian Battalion at MINUSTAH: A Model Consolidation. Rio de Janeiro: Brazilian Peace Operations Joint Training Center (CCOPAB).

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eduarda Passarelli Hamann
    • 1
  • Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Igarapé InstituteRio de JaneiroBrazil
  2. 2.Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)OsloNorway

Personalised recommendations