An Intrastate Approach to the Withdrawal from International Organizations

The Case of Brazil and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

In: Global Governance: A Review of Multilateralism and International Organizations
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  • 1 University of OklahomaDepartment of International and Area StudiesUSANorman, Oklahoma
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When international organizations take measures that seem to go against the national interests of a Member State, is withdrawal inevitable? What do past cases reveal about how the extreme decision of withdrawal has been contained? This article examines the case of Brazil and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which is part of the Organization of American States (OAS). Having received a harsh decision by the Commission, Brazil first threatened to leave OAS, but later mobilized diplomatic strategies to reform its Commission. What happened between a first reaction that considered withdrawal and the final decision to work to reform the system? The article advances the argument that containing international organization withdrawal benefits from the convergence and mutual reinforcement provided by internationally engaged institutions, bureaucrats committed to multilateralism, and a democratic leadership. The case helps to recognize the relevant intrastate variables that play out in the decision-making process that may eventually lead to withdrawal.

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