In a favela in Rio de Janeiro, the artist JR drew attention to the plight of residents by postering giant faces on some of the buildings, 2011. (Thiago Trajano/Flickr)
Brazilian diplomats often like to remind their counterparts that their country hasn't picked a fight in its neighborhood for almost 150 years. Brazil very reluctantly joined the Second World War in 1944, but played an important role in helping reconstruct Europe in its aftermath. They are justifiably proud of their historical commitment to peace; it is a legacy worth preserving. Yet there are signs that Brazil’s forward momentum in promoting safety, security, justice, and governance is lagging. Since hosting the Rio+20 conference in 2012, Brazil has been coy about the place of these issues in the post-2015 development agenda. During recent negotiations in New York over future sustainable development goals (SDGs), Brazil's Ministry of Foreign Affairs appeared to be taking them off the table entirely.
At an open-ended working group meeting on the shape and content of the SDGs last month, Brazil’s ambassador to the United Nations, Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, started out in familiar enough territory. In his statement to the United Nations, he made it clear that his government believes “stability and peace are essential for development.” The veteran civil servant went on to say that sustained peace could only be achieved if governments and civil societies collectively tackled the root causes of conflict. There was nothing especially novel about his opening remarks. The ambassador was echoing a number of his compatriots who, over the past few years, have spoken on the interdependence of security and development.