Américas Segurança e Defesa

Brazilian hybrid security in South America, by Rafael Villa

The main argument from this research point out that security governance in South America functions on dichotomous lines and that analysis of security practices of Brazil is a case in point. On the one hand, scholars point out the balance of power and hegemonic institutions as the main discourse in the security practices between Brazil and its South American neighbors. On the other hand, some other emphasize the importance of democracy, cooperation on defense and security, and peaceful conflict resolution between states in the region as indicators for the emergence of a security community between Brazil and its neighbors in the South American region. The way in which multiple orders coexist is not given adequate attention in empirical research.

However, merely pointing out of the existence of these two institutions is not enough and the onus of responsibility lies in detailed empirical research that shows how the overlap functions in actual cases. The article Brazilian Hybrid Security in South America, published in the special issue of RBPI International Security and Defense – Taking stock of Brazil’s changes (Volume 60 – N. 2, 2017), seeks to overcome this dichotomy. By foregrounding Brazil’s regional security practices, particularly during the Lula and Rousseff administration, I show the hybrid and sometimes ambivalent security governance system in Brazil where mechanisms of balance of power and security community overlap in important ways. Using the Brazilian case in this article is aimed to go beyond the existing debates to empirically show the comparative advantage of the overlap between security governance systems.

In this manner, this article uses the framework of Adler and Greve on overlap on security governance the paper shed light on new ways of conceptualizing regional security orders. Having briefly established the framework of overlapping security governance mechanisms, the core of the article is on the empirics of Brazil. Thus, the empirical core works along three areas. Specifically, it is showed the overlapping and hybrid security governance in South America in Brazil’s arms modernization initiatives, its multilateral engagements, and its bilateral relations with Argentina. In each of these areas, it is shed light on the processes and mechanisms through which the Brazilian hybrid security operates.

This paper concludes that by foregrounding the overlapping security dynamics – both balance of power and security community practices – of Brazil in the region it is possible to strengthen the empirical consequences of regional security governance. Brazil promotes a new wave of regional integration and cooperation in the field of security and defense through multilateral security initiatives – most prominently, through the establishment of the South American Defense Council under the umbrella of UNASUR, which reflects patterns of a nascent security community. However, balancing behavior, deterrence, mistrust, and concerns of regional power preponderance also function in Brazil’s security initiatives. With the empirical enumeration of this overlap in military modernization, multilateral institutions, and bilateral initiatives with Argentina, this article showed the importance processes through which such an overlaps functions in a security discourse.

In line with the overlapping of regional mechanisms of security governance, Brazil maintains its ambiguous and hybrid practice between rhetorical trust-building and conventional military armament. It means that non-conflict-driven initiatives still goes with classical problems of the security dilemma, creating conditions for the resurgence of distrust. Yet, Brazil also has the potential to offset the contradictions between the two logics, as the resulting tendency of allowing overlapping practices creates avenues for debates and discussions. Future research should investigate whether the confluence of those overlapping security dynamics is unique to Brazil or could be found in other states in the South America region.

Read the article

Villa, Rafael Duarte. (2017). Brazilian Hybrid Security in South America. Revista Brasileira de Política Internacional, 60(2), e003. Epub October 19, 2017.

About the author

Rafael Duarte Villa – Universidade de São Paulo, Departamento de Ciência Política, São Paulo – SP, Brazil (

How to cite this note

Cite this article as: Editoria, "Brazilian hybrid security in South America, by Rafael Villa," in Revista Mundorama, 13/11/2017,

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