Human Rights, Corruption, and Democracy in Brazil: How International Regimes Contributed to the Consolidation and Debacle of Brazilian Democracy

  • Lucas Delgado

Student thesis: Phd


The research aims to analyze and explain the impacts of international legal regimes on Brazilian democracy. The thesis proposes that international norms, supranational organizations policies, and transnational agencies agenda can produce paradoxical effects on democracy. We propose a functionalist and pluralist approach that understands democracy as a continuous process of increasing participation and enfranchisement, access to rights, inclusion, and citizenship. Our qualitative research was based on the textual analysis of international conventions, additional protocols, review mechanisms report, multinational organizations publications, transnational agencies toolkits, guidelines, and international courts/commissions decisions. It also involved documental research of domestic legal/institutional unfolding of those international initiatives, such as draft bills, pieces of legislation, case-law, policies data as well as primary data found in Brazilian official datasets. The research consists of a longitudinal study that considers international human rights and anti-corruption legal regimes outcomes in political participation and inclusion. We found that international human rights have been present from the constituent moment onwards in a diverse process of expanding inclusiveness and citizenship enhancement, leading to significant social changes in post-1988 constitutional history. Conversely, international anti-corruption standards strategical absorption contributed to a disruption in Brazilian recent democratic history. The penetration of international anti-corruption discourses and practices into Brazilian reality did not cause the consolidation of democracy advocated by specialized literature, decisively impacting core democratic institutions and procedures. Moreover, anti-corruption packages colonized the public sphere and affected human rights and democratic achievements observed in the rights to food, health, ethnic equality, and indigenous populations protection. The research shows that international regimes that constitute the cosmopolitan/universalist element out of which modern democracy was constituted and spread worldwide can interact with the local, participatory element of democracy in contingent forms. The socio-political background and the institutional framework in which international regimes infiltrate play a decisive role in the way their influences are absorbed and produce effects. We conclude that international anti-corruption norms, regimes and discourses can generate anti-democratic pressures, exclusion, and democracy decay.
Date of Award1 Aug 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorJohn Haskell (Supervisor) & Christopher Thornhill (Supervisor)


  • Participation
  • Corruption
  • Inclusion
  • Human Rights
  • Democracy
  • Global Constitutionalism

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