The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the organ of the federal government responsible for Brazil's relations with other countries and for the Brazilian participation in international organizations. It runs the foreign policy defined by the Presidency according to the principles laid down in article 4 of the Federal Constitution.
The origins of the Ministry date back to 1821, when of the separation of the Department of Foreign Affairs from the Secretariat of War. After the proclamation of the Republic, in 1889, the Department of Foreign Affairs was denominated Ministry of Foreign Affairs
2. What does a diplomat do? How does one enter the diplomatic career?
Basically, diplomats represent and promote Brazilian interests at the international level, strengthening cooperation bonds between Brazil and its foreign partners, and provide assistance to Brazilian citizens abroad.
Some of the activities undertaken by the Brazilian diplomats are:
• Represent Brazil before other countries and international organizations;
• Contribute to the formulation of Brazil's foreign policy;
• Participate in international meetings and, in them, negotiate on behalf of Brazil:
• Promote Brazilian foreign trade and attract tourism and investments;
• Promote the culture and values of the Brazilian people;
• Provide consular assistance to Brazilian citizens abroad;
Throughout their career, diplomats may be in charge of several tasks and address themes as diverse as human rights, social affairs, environment, education, energy, peace and security, trade promotion, financial issues, cooperation for development, promotion of the Brazilian culture, educational cooperation, ceremonial and protocol.
When carrying out consular activities, a diplomat will support and guide Brazilian citizens in need of assistance abroad. Performing notarial acts and organizing elections abroad are also among the several consular activities of a diplomat.
Admission to the diplomatic career occurs through public contest organized by the Rio Branco Institute - the body of Itamaraty responsible for the selection, training, and advanced training of diplomats. The Entrance Examination to the Diplomatic Carrier has been held annually since 1946.
None. Until 1970, the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was the Itamaraty Palace, in Rio de Janeiro – and, informally, the Ministry came to be known by the name of the building that housed it. The habit was preserved to the time of the move to Brasília as the Palace of Arches – the original name of the building designed by Oscar Niemeyer – was soon nicknamed "Itamaraty Palace".
José Maria da Silva Paranhos Junior (1846-1912), the Baron of Rio Branco, was a diplomat and historian. With a degree in law, he was congressman and journalist before joining the diplomatic service. He served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs between 1902 and 1912, under four presidents: Rodrigues Alves, Afonso Pena, Nilo Peçanha and Hermes da Fonseca. His greatest legacy was the peaceful settlement of border disputes between Brazil and its neighboring countries. Because of this – and for having consolidated the tradition of pragmatism of Brazilian diplomacy – he is considered the patron of Brazilian diplomats. In 2010, the name of José Maria da Silva Paranhos was inscribed in the book of Heroes of the Fatherland, which is in the Tancredo Neves Pantheon of the Fatherland and Freedom, in the Square of the Three Powers (Brasília).
The Foreign Ministry has offices in Brazil and abroad.
The State Secretariat of Foreign Affairs is located in Brasília, Brazil, and it houses the Office of the Minister of State, the General Secretariat and the seven Secretariats for specific themes (Secretariat for Administrative Management; Secretariat for Bilateral and Regional Negotiations in the Americas; Secretariat for Communications and Culture; Secretariat for Bilateral Negotiations in Asia, the Pacific and Russia; Secretariat for National Sovereignty and Citizenship; Secretariat for Bilateral Negotiations in the Middle East, Europe and Africa; and Secretariat for Foreign Trade and Economic Affairs) which are divided in departments and divisions; the Rio Branco Institute (under the Secretariat for Communications and Culture), responsible for the training of the Brazilian diplomatic corps; the nine Regional Representation Offices, which act as supporting departments for the activities of the Foreign Ministry in the cities where they are located; and the two Limits Demarcation Commissions, responsible for the keeping of the border demarcations of Brazil.
Abroad, the Foreign Ministry's offices are called "posts". There are three basic types of posts: the Embassy, responsible for the bilateral relations between Brazil and the country where it is established (the reason why its headquarters are always located in the capitals); the Consular Office, primarily responsible for the assistance to Brazilian citizens abroad; and the Mission or Delegation accredited to international organizations such as the UN and the WTO.
The Consular Office can be a Consulate General, a Consulate or a Vice-Consulate (without proper jurisdiction, the last undergoes a Consulate).
In countries where Brazil only keeps the Embassy, those have a consular section.
The network of posts comprises 133 Embassies, 52 Consulate Generals, 11 Consulates, 8 Vice-Consulates, 13 Missions or Delegations and 3 Offices.
Keeping an extensive network of Brazilian diplomatic and consular representations abroad is essential to allow the proper execution of the foreign policy, ensuring the Brazilian participation in key issues of the international agenda. Moreover, the existence of this network allows the employees of the Brazilian Foreign Service to act and take measures locally, in a direct manner, which makes the promotion of foreign trade, the attraction of investments and the assistance to Brazilians living abroad more efficient
The contact details of all Brazilian diplomatic and consular representations abroad are available in the "Representations" section of this portal.
The Brazilian Foreign Service consists of three careers: diplomat, chancery officer and chancery assistant. In September 2020, the board of employees counted with 1,553 diplomats, 812 chancery officers, 441 chancery assistants and 305 public servants from other careers.
The internet has become one of the many tools of the international agent. Informing the Minister of Foreign Affairs and analyzing the reality abroad are some of the main activities of the diplomat. The possibility of obtaining real-time information about events occurring virtually in any place of the world has brought changes to this function, but did not replace it. However, obtaining information directly from the source, as well as conducting successful negotiations can take place only from the personal contact of the diplomat with authorities, businessmen and representatives of the civil society of the country where he/she is working.
A diplomat enters the career as Third Secretary and may be promoted to Second Secretary, First Secretary, Counselor, Second Class Minister, and First Class Minister (Ambassador). Abroad, Second Class and First Class Ministers may exercise the function of Ambassador.
12. What is the difference between a diplomat, an ambassador, a consul general, an honorary consul and a foreign minister (or "chanceler")?
A diplomat is the civil servant approved in the examinations of the Rio Branco Institute.
Ambassador is the title conferred upon the head of a diplomatic mission – Embassies and Representations to International organizations -, being he/she in the diplomatic career or not. It is the prerogative of the President of the Republic to appoint Ambassadors, and any citizen may be designated.
Consul-General is the title given to the diplomat who heads a Consulate General.
Foreign Minister is the tittle conferred upon the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs.
In Latin America, the terms Canciller (Spanish) or Chanceler (Portuguese) are commonly used informally to refer to the post of foreign minister.
The Honorary Consul is not an employee of the Brazilian government. His/her appointment relies on honor and merit and is not legally binding. He / She is a Brazilian or foreign citizen, with good local or regional profile, willing and able to act in the host community in the interests of the Brazilian State and its nationals. He/she does not receive monetary compensation for their service as a consul and does not count on a consular office for the services rendered. They work on a voluntary basis to assist the resident Brazilian community and, in case of emergency, Brazilian travelers passing through.
The first place in the entrance examination of 1918 was Maria José de Castro. Her admission was contested by the authorities then, but thanks to the defense of her cause by Ruy Barbosa, she had her rights to enter the diplomatic career guaranteed. From 1919 to 1938, 19 other women joined the diplomatic corps. In 1938, a presidential decree established that only men could join the diplomat career. In 1953, after a lawsuit, candidate Maria Sandra Cordeiro de Mello obtained the right to serve Brazil as a diplomat. Since 1954, the examination is open to all Brazilians, regardless of gender. The first Woman Ambassador of the Foreign Ministry was Odete de Carvalho e Souza, who headed the then Political Department of the Ministry, from 1956 to 1959.
Chancery Officers are public servants with higher education responsible for the formulation, implementation, and execution of acts of technical analysis and administrative management, necessary for the development of the Brazilian foreign policy. Chancery Assistants are public servants with intermediate educational level responsible for providing technical and administrative support in Brazil and in the Brazilian representations abroad. Admission to both carriers occurs through public contest.
The diplomatic passport is a travel document granted free of charge to diplomats and to holders of other positions and functions listed in items I to XII of article 6 of the Travel Documents Regulation, annexed to Decree 5.978, of 2006.
Bearing a diplomatic passport does not imply any privilege or immunity in Brazil.
Abroad, diplomatic and consular immunities do not stem from bearing a diplomatic passport, but rather from being officially posted in a consular or diplomatic representation abroad and accredited before local authorities. If a holder of a diplomatic passport is travelling on vacation to another country, he/she is not entitled to such privileges and immunities.
More information on this topic can be found in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and in the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
Brazil has relations with all other 192 UN Member States. There are only 11 other countries in the world which keep diplomatic relations with all other countries.
According to data from the first half of 2014, there are 133 foreign resident embassies in Brasilia – which places the city among the top 15 in the world with the largest number of resident diplomatic representations. In addition, there are 44 international organizations and 52 non-resident embassies. Since 2003, 37 resident embassies were opened in Brasilia.
The contacts details of all foreign diplomatic and consular representations in Brazil are available in the "Representations" section of this portal.
The letter of credence is a formal letter sent by one Head of State to another, formally granting diplomatic accreditation to a representative designated to be the Ambassador of the country of origin in the host country. Letters of Credentials are presented in person to the Head of State by the designated Ambassadors at a ceremony. Letters of Credentials are also called "credentials", and the phrase "the Ambassador has presented his or her credentials" is common.
The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations stipulates that the sending State (accrediting State) shall ensure that the person to be nominated has the agreement ("agrément") of the receiving State (accredited State). This is done through a procedure known as "request for 'agrément' ", which consists of consulting the accredited State if it is in accordance with the nomination.
The Vienna Convention guarantees the receiving State the right to not accept the nomination. For this reason, the international practice is that the whole procedure be done in secret, thus avoiding that, in case of refusal, embarrassment is created both to bilateral relations and to the person indicated. Only in case of approval the request and the granting of "agrément" become public.
The Itamaraty Palace in Brasilia is open daily for free guided tours. The Historic and Diplomatic Museum, located at the Itamaraty Palace in Rio de Janeiro, can also be visited. For more information, go to the "Visit Itamaraty" section of this portal.