It´s finally official. Over the next two years, I will take part in a new and exciting research project on Brazil as a new humanitarian actor. On Wednesday, June 10th, you can meet all the involved Brazilian and Norwegian researchers in Oslo.
Former president Lula inspecting Brazilian troops in Haiti. The Brazilian army has been leading the UN stabilisation mission in Haiti (Minustah) since 2004, in what is the largest Brazilian investment in international humanitarian efforts ever.
Brazil’s increasing humanitarian efforts
Over the last 15 years, Brazil has substantially scaled up its international humanitarian engagement. This includes both sending more troops to UN peacekeeping missions and increased funding for disaster relief, South-South foreign aid and technical cooperation.
The prime example is the involvement in Haiti, where the Brazilian army since 2004 has been leading the UN stabilisation mission (Minustah). In parallel, the Brazilian NGO Viva Rio has been developing humanitarian assistance in the capital Port au Prince.
Brazil’s Rise to the Global Stage
The research project Brazil’s Rise to the Global Stage seeks to understand the drivers behind Brazilian humanitarian action and participation in peacekeeping and peacebuilding activities. As a new player in the field of international humanitarian assistance, Brazil has brought a new form of moral and strategic motivations to the table. However, humanitarian action also serves Brazil’s regional and international ambitions as a rising power.
The project is coordinated by the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and is placed under the umbrella of the Norwegian Centre for Humanitarian Studies. It has received support from the Norwegian Research Council´s Latin America Programme.
The non-existing NGO channel
My first participation in this project looks into the Brazilian NGOs and their engagement in international humanitarian efforts. This is indeed work in progress, but I must admit my first findings are a little surprising.
The Brazilian NGO involvement in international humanitarian operations is often celebrated in governmental statements and documents. Former president Lula, for instance, said that Brazilian cooperation was special, since it has “the commitment of public agencies and entities, universities and civil society organizations.” In reality, though, the civil society examples seem to count only one: Viva Rio´s engagement in Haiti.
The Rio de Janeiro-based NGO has received praise and prizes from the Brazilian state for this effort, including from the Brazilian Army, but has to date not received any financial support. Viva Rio´s activities in Haiti are sustained with funding from the governments of Norway, Canada and different UN agencies. Thus, contrary to official statements, the Brazilian NGO channel must be said to be non-existing.
(For those of you worried about my current job at the University of Oslo: Relax. I will continue there as coordinator for the new Biodiversity Research Consortium Brazil-Norway. Read more about the biodiversity research here.)
Welcome to seminar in Oslo June 10th
Next week we will organize an open seminar in Oslo, entitled Brazil: An Emerging Humanitarian Power?
Time: Wednesday June 10th, 12:30 – 15:30
Place: PRIO, Hausmanns gate 7, Oslo
The research project Brazil’s Rise to the Global Stage
Overseas Development Institute briefing paper #64 (2010) Brazil: an emerging aid player. (The text is a good analysis of the situation in 2010. Since then, Brazilian funding for humanitarian efforts has been reduced significantly.)