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An Informed Diplomacy

The reputation of Itamaraty is largely due to its capacity to research and innovate in projecting and safeguarding national interests.

Sérgio E. Moreira Lima

Awareness of the external reality is necessary to understand factors which increasingly affect daily life. It does not suffice to simply understand its dynamics, it is also necessary to influence its evolution in order to promote and protect rights and interests. Research on international relations is instrumental in this process and is incumbent on the State and civil society through universities, study centers and the media itself.

Academic and diplomatic thinking may differ in purposes and timing. The latter focuses on national interests and policy formulation. It responds to more immediate issues and emerges from the need to define short and medium-term lines of action, as well as to develop coherent strategies in a longer perspective.

Despite their differences, both may complement each other in a decision-making process that assures consistency to foreign policy in the defense of principles and fundamental values that guide the State. The legacy of the Baron of Rio Branco in negotiating Brazilian borders is not only due to the qualities of the patron of diplomacy, but also to his research on History, Geography and Law, with the assistance of civil entities.

With the institutionalization of the Alexandre de Gusmão Foundation (FUNAG), and the establishment of the Institute for Research on International Relations (IPRI) – linked to FUNAG – in 1987 in Brasilia, Itamaraty took a step towards bringing diplomacy and academy closer together by providing interaction with society and promoting greater legitimacy to foreign policy. Attempted in the 70's, those initiatives contributed to reinforce democratic values at a critical juncture in the History of Brazil.

Brazilian diplomats had already participated in the establishment of the first International Relations Course in Brazil, in 1974, at the University of Brasilia. With the inception of the Advanced Studies Course (CAE, in the Portuguese acronym) of the Rio Branco Institute (IRBr, in the Portuguese acronym), in 1977, Itamaraty launched the basis for continued interaction with the Academy. Since then, the approved and recommended theses of greater public interest have been published by FUNAG.

Seminars about subjects such as the Role of BRICS in the International System and the Diplomacy of Innovation for Competitiveness illustrate how FUNAG and IPRI contribute in the effort of research and reflection on issues ranging from international governance to the insertion of Brazil in the global chains of knowledge and production. Itamaraty is largely renowned for its capacity to research and innovate on the projection and safeguarding of national interests. It is interesting to note that IPRI was born from a CAE thesis, defended in 1981 by Gelson Fonseca Junior, a Brazilian diplomat and scholar.

Current challenges to the research on international relations are still linked to democracy and to the projection of its principles in the international order. It is incumbent on the State and civil society to study such barriers, cooperating with each other to pursue conditions for their overcoming, conceptual formulation, and doctrinary treatment. IPRI's mission is to contribute to the development of a national autonomous thinking in relation to great challenges and opportunities which Brazil faces in the globalized world. Bearing in mind this purpose, IPRI complements, jointly with academy, the daily research exercise carried out by Itamaraty's
sections and departments.

There is a surprising contrast between internal values and principles and their external projection. In a globalizing world, this paradox becomes increasingly noticeable as a moral and political dilemma that reaches the dignity of those who are "less equal". The stability of the international order will ultimately depend on its legitimacy and on other attributes which reflect balance and coherence between universal values held internally and their projection in the world.

In a lecture at the IRBR, Chancellor Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado, after addressing issues pertaining to peace and international security, highlighted the growing importance and current relevance of the matters regarding social and environmental development in the international agenda. For Brazil, the success and scope of policies adopted in the recent past, which contributed to noticeable internal changes, reinforce the country's diplomatic credentials. Minister Figueiredo recalled his recent meeting with the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, and his perception concerning the leadership dose that Brazil will have in the implementation of the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

In such a vast territory, with distinct geographical and human characteristics, the reflection on the topic of cooperation and international relations will be increasingly significant to the development of Brazil, to the defense of its interests and ideas, as well as the projection and strengthening of its values in the external scene.


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