The Foreign Service
The Rio Branco Institute (Instituto Rio Branco--IRBr) recruits
from twenty to thirty candidates each year among college graduates.
After four semesters of intensive study
of language and diplomacy, graduates receive a certified bachelor
of arts degree in diplomacy and begin their careers as third secretaries.
In 1996 the IRBr began studies to upgrade the course to an M.A.
program. The IRBr teaching staff is composed of senior diplomats
and some academics from the University of Brasília (Universidade de Brasília). Some foreign
students are admitted, mostly from Latin
America and Africa.
After three or four years experience within several divisions of
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (known as Itamaraty, after the building
it formerly occupied in Rio
de Janeiro), the junior diplomat is posted overseas. Promotion
to second and first secretary is by merit (evaluation by immediate
superiors). Before promotion to minister second class, the diplomat
goes through a mid-career course and produces a monograph, which
is defended before an examining board. Many diplomats also acquire
graduate degrees during their career. Promotion to the final positions
of counselor (minister first class) and ambassador involves a combination
of merit and political considerations; the president makes the final
decision. Because Itamaraty has more diplomats than posts overseas
and in Brasília, diplomats frequently fill key positions
in other ministries, state enterprises, and the president's office.
Brazilian diplomats generally are considered skilled and patient
negotiators by their peers.
Data as of April 1997