Social inclusion has probably never mattered more to Brazil than it does now. National policies related to social inclusion are considered agents for national development and, in the international sphere, can significantly result on alterations within the context where the country is found. Financial, economic and political support to social programs that aim to guarantee the human development inside and outside can be seen as an evident qualification compatible with Brazil’s international projection, which is going from strength to strength.
Relied on the belief that the fight against hunger and poverty, reasons for imbalances in the international system certainly requires concrete efforts, for Brazil’s former President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, social inclusion was the main driving force that pushed his two mandates (from 2003 to 2010). And it continues being on the current government headed by Dilma Rousseff, who assures the continuity of social programs inherited from the previous administration. It should not be forgotten that the struggle for addressing those social problems came out of the theoretical basis and is now a practical standpoint: in 2004 the Global Action Against Hunger and Poverty was launched, a clear political support for countries that face difficulties in solving problems related to public health and to other social and economic issues. As a result, it was established by Brazil, France, Chile, Norway and the United Kingdom as “an innovative funding mechanism to accelerate access to high-quality drugs and diagnostics for HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in countries with a high burden of disease” (IBAS), called International Drug Purchase Facility.
As a general rule, supportive bias has become a fundamental guideline when dealing with domestic policy in the last government in Brazil and it has helped to illustrate an extraordinary paradox: in the wake of the financial crisis that was originated in the United States in 2008-2009, the emerging countries, such as Brazil, were those who better responded to the crisis’ impacts. The implementation of innovative macroeconomic policies by emerging countries could be taken to explain the rapid economic recovery mentioned by the Ms Rousseff during the fifth EU-Brazil Business Summit, which took place in Brussels, Belgium, on 4 October 2011.Another point worth considering is that the mentioned stability comes from a change in the way emerging countries’ governments have been understanding which elements constitute an economy of a country. In Brazil, cash transfer programs, along the lines of the Bolsa Família (Family Grant) and Fome Zero (Zero Hunger) can be defined as a string of initiatives that aims to integrate the poorest Brazilians to the economy, by providing them an effective support of national consumer policies.
Furthermore, the success of Brazil’s much admired and emulated anti-poverty program Fome Zero and other social programs is not only verified in the domestic context, where it has been able to provide a minimum income to more than 10 million Brazilian families, but it also greatly encouraged the candidature and election of the current Director-General of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), José Graziano da Silva, who took office in January 2012. It should not be forgotten that Mr. Graziano da Silva was one of the main responsibles at the fight against hunger and poverty in Brazil. One should remember that the great results achieved at national level has served as a stimulus to the idea that, in the international context, States can also be promoters for human development without abdicating their inductive role of economic growth.
In addition, the emphasis on South-South cooperation on good practices in social and infrastructural areas as an agent for the development in the international sphere must be added to the elements that explain the role played by social inclusion on the Brazilian foreign policy. It has been clearly shown that in the emerging new world order political and economic arrangements among developing countries have vast importance for dealing with complex international issues. Actions developed by IBSA, “a coordinating mechanism amongst three emerging countries (India, Brazil and South Africa), three multiethnic and multicultural democracies, which are determined to contribute to the construction of a new international architecture, to bring their voice together on global issues and to deepen their ties in various areas” (IBAS, 2012), have shown that these countries, among others, present enough conditions contribute to eradicate worldwide poverty. The success of this initiative is confirmed by the establishment of IBSA Fund for Poverty and Hunger Alleviation, supported by the existing capacities in the three countries and their successful reference in the solution of social problems. In this respect, the IBSA Fund received the UN South-South Partnership Award in 2006 for its pioneer and unique initiative to enhance South-South cooperation.
However, this altruistic orientation that guides Brazil in its foreign policy is not spared from being criticized. Many people claim, including authorities in the field of international relations, that there is a utilitarian criteria underlying the Brazilian foreign policy. It is said that, by taking part of the international game, Brazil aims to develop its actions on international development associating its power-seeking behavior and national interests. In this sense, would thus be the country aiming to obtain credentials for recognition of its status as an actor fully engaged internationally? The indictment is supported by the idea that Brazil has lately consolidated its aspirations for a permanent UN Security Council seat. There is a handful of countries that seeks a permanent seat on an envisaged reformed Security Council, the prestigious locus for decision making – a reformed Council should include countries such as India, Japan, Germany, South Africa. For that matter, Brazil is striving.
Moreover, critics have stated that the success of Brazilian social programs contribute to the increasing popularity and electoral campaigns of their creators. The President Lula’s re-election and his legacy boosting the subsequent election of Dilma Rousseff, both from the same Workers’ Party (PT) would be associated to a successful social policy that has valorized the working-class and low-income population. Most voters are in these groups. It remains to be asked whether the populistic misusage of such a program could be avoided. Besides, at international level such popularity would confer to mandatory greater influence in a world that faces enormous crises and is seeking for new leaders.
Although, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, a pure international altruism is uneven in the foreign policies of many countries, social inclusion policies had modified significantly the way many countries are given status in the international scene. Among these policies, there are those in Brazil that paved the way for recovery and economic stability. Recent Brazilian experiences in fighting against poverty and hunger at national and international level are worthy of analysis because of their innovative features when compared to traditional mechanisms for promoting welfare.
Finally, all the evidence suggests that this reconfiguration of the international scene depends on assumption by developing countries, cooperating with those least developed and developed countries, of measures that aim to reduce and resolve complex international social issues. This acceptance, however, can represent somehow the struggle for national interests. The connection between foreign policy and social inclusion programs that promote international development projects is a promising scenario where nations will reveal that new strategies are needed to solve old world problems.
Discurso da Presidenta da República, Dilma Rousseff, durante cerimônia de encerramento do Fórum Empresarial Brasil-União Europeia – Bruxelas/Bélgica. Disponível em: www2.planalto.gov.br/imprensa/discursos/discurso-da-presidenta-da-republica-dilma-rousseff-durante-cerimonia-de-encerramento-do-forum-empresarial-brasil-uniao-europeia-bruxelas-belgica. Acesso em 02 de setembro de 2012.
IBAS. Disponível em: http://www.ibsa-trilateral.org. Acesso em 02 de setembro de 2012.
THE IBSA FUND. Disponível em: http://www.ibsa-trilateral.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=29&Itemid=79. Acesso em 02 de setembro de 2012.
ECONOMIST. How to get children out of jobs and into school: the limits of Brazil’s much admired and emulated anti-poverty programme. Disponível em: http://www.economist.com/node/16690887. Acesso em 02 de setembro de 2012.
Rodrigo dos Santos Mota é licenciado em Letras Vernáculas pela Universidade do Estado da Bahia – UNEB e bacharel em Línguas Estrangeiras Aplicadas às Negociações Internacionais pela Universidade Estadual de Santa Cruz – UESC (firstname.lastname@example.org).