Brazil's foreign policy on human rights presents a country open to the world, willing to cooperate and discuss its own strengths and weaknesses. Brazil is internationally viewed as a coherent and balanced interlocutor for the transparent and constructive way the country faces its challenges and for the non-selective and non-politicized way it deals with human rights issues.
The Brazilian Federal Constitution establishes the prevalence of human rights as one of the principles that shall rule the international relations of Brazil, and establishes that rights recognized in international treaties are also recognized as fundamental rights and guarantees in addition to those already laid down in the constitutional text.
Foreign policy on human rights in the multilateral fora
Brazil is currently in its third term (2013 – 2015) at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), having been elected with the significant number of 184 votes from a total of 193 countries. The election represented the recognition of the international community of the Brazilian effort to promote and protect human rights. Brazil has worked with a view to strengthening the UNHRC and it emphasizes the need for non-politicization and non-selectiveness; the fight against all forms of discrimination, the right to health, as well as to the enhancement of cooperation among countries in the fight against transnational violations and on the promotion of exchanges of successful experiences. Brazil had two other terms at the UNHRC: from 2006-2008 and from 2009-2011.
Composed of 47 member States, the UNHRC is responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights throughout the world. It was created by the United Nations General Assembly in 2006 and it carries out, among other initiatives, the Universal Periodic Review, which assesses human rights situations in all United Nations Member States.
Brazil has ratified almost all international instruments on human rights promotion and protection. Furthermore, it maintains a standing invitation for the visit of Special Rapporteurs and Independent Experts from the UNHRC dedicated to investigating the human rights situation worldwide. Itamaraty is responsible for setting the dates and places of the visits with local authorities. Since 1998, Brazil has already received the visit of more than twenty of these representatives.
Still in the multilateral arena, Brazil also follows the work of the committees in charge of monitoring the implementation of human rights treaties. Itamaraty has the responsibility, in coordination with its Secretariat for Human Rights (SHR) and other federal agencies, for submitting periodic reports on the national efforts to promote and protect the rights established in these treaties.
Foreign policy on human rights in the regional fora
Brazil actively participates in the Organization of American States, and particularly in the Inter-American Human Rights System. The participation in the system has made possible progress in critical areas such as public safety, the fight against racism and slave labour, improvement of prison conditions, and prevention of violence against women. The election of two Brazilians, the magistrate Roberto Caldas for the position of judge of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the former Minister for Human Rights Paulo Vannuchi to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is testament of this engagement. Brasília hosted an extraordinary session of the Inter-American Court in November, 2013.
In MERCOSUR, the main fora dedicated to human rights are the Meeting of High-Level Authorities on Human Rights (RAADH) and the Meeting of Authorities on the Indigenous Peoples (RAPIM). RAADH held in November, 2013 its 24th meeting, in which foreign ministries and government agencies responsible for human rights such as SHR, in Brazil participated. The RAPIM will be created in the next MERCOSUR Summit with the mandate of addressing the promotion of rights of indigenous peoples. Itamaraty will support the leadership of the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) in this body.
At UNASUR, human rights issues will be addressed by the High-Level Group for the Cooperation and Coordination on Human Rights. This body is still deliberating on its structure, agenda, and forms of participation.