Southern middle powers and the liberal international order: The options for Brazil and South Africa

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The current challenges facing the liberal international order suggest there is greater need for reassessing the roles that different categories of states may perform in support of this order. Middle powers appear as leading candidates for a supportive role to the liberal order due to their historical commitment to internationalism, coalition building with like-minded democracies and activism within multilateral institutions. Such orientation, however, is questionable for Southern middle powers that often appear ambivalent in their foreign policies, restricted in their collaboration with other democracies and selective in their multilateral initiatives. This article discusses the cases of Brazil and South Africa to examine the current options for Southern middle powers and concludes that despite certain limitations, South Africa is, overall, closer to assuming a supportive stance towards the liberal international order and its institutions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)384-403
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal: Canada’s Journal of Global Policy Analysis
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 01 Sept 2021


  • Middle powers
  • Internationalism
  • Liberal international order
  • Brazil
  • South Africa
  • internationalism
  • middle powers
  • liberal international order


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