This article makes empirical use of the concepts of norm localization and norm subsidiarity, as developed by Acharya and revamped by Prantl and Nakano, to analyze Brazil’s engagement with the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and its development of the ‘responsibility while protecting’ (RwP) note in 2011. Many rising powers face a clear clash between their own normative priors and putatively universal norms such as R2P; the RwP note is one of the clearest examples in recent times of an attempt to navigate this contestation. The RwP note itself is not innovative, and its final intention is unclear; it contains elements of both norm localization and of the desire to establish the subsidiarity of Brazilian and regional traditions of non-intervention. As such it recasts the R2P in language acceptable to a Brazilian (and global Southern) public while simultaneously seeking to inject regional interpretations into the larger, global debate. The article makes use of Acharya’s model to outline drivers and resistances in the localization process, identifying the extent to which successful localization has occurred and contributing to more clearly differentiating the notions of localization and subsidiarity. RwP contains elements of both, which the paper clearly identifies in Brazil’s initial forays into the intervention debate. As such the piece contributes to advancing both the current state of norm diffusion theory and analysts’ and policymakers’ understanding of emerging powers’ engagement with R2P and intervention norms.