Brazilian foreign policy demonstrates an interesting double aspect in the changing global system. Its rhetoric and overt positioning is framed around the idea of Brazil as a value-creating actor, while in reality there are significant value-claiming characteristics at the core of its approach to regional and global affairs.
The key for Brazil is its position as a 'bridge' between the South and the North, which allows its diplomats to establish the country as a critical coalition organizer and ideational leader for southern actors looking for major changes in global governance systems, and a central interlocutor for northern actors trying to cope with pressure from the South. Brazil's ambitions are simple: focusing more on an improved relative position, rather than a complete reformulation of the international system, which serves it well in economic, political and security terms.
To explain this argument the article focuses on Brazilian engagement with Africa and South America, as well as the country's approach to major negotiations such as the WTO's Doha round, the Free Trade Area of the Americas and the evolution of regional governance mechanisms such as the Organization of American States and the recently created Community of Latin American and Caribbean States. The pattern that emerges is one of Brazil working to create a consensus around its position, using its consequent leadership to improve Brazilian leverage in the regional and global arena.