Fact Sheet
Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
March 19, 2011


President Obama and President Rousseff reaffirmed their commitment to cooperation under the U.S.-Brazil Joint Action Plan to Eliminate Racial and Ethnic Discrimination and Promote Equality (Joint Action Plan), the first U.S.-Brazil bilateral initiative targeting racial and ethnic discrimination. This initiative leverages the interagency policy expertise in both countries, in a unique partnership with civil society and private sector committees. The Joint Action Plan recognizes Brazil and the United States are multi-ethnic, multi-racial democracies whose ties of friendship are strengthened by shared experiences. Both countries celebrate the rich contributions of people of African descent and indigenous populations to the fabric of our societies. The Joint Action Plan’s unique structure and the goals of racial and ethnic equality and social inclusion sparked interest in other Western Hemisphere countries to pursue similar partnerships, and in January 2010, the United States signed a similar Action Plan with Colombia. The Joint Action Plan 2011 Steering Group meeting, with high-level representation from the U.S. and Brazil governments, will be hosted in Brazil this year.

  • Sharing Best Practices: Signed in March 2008, the Joint Action Plan pledges ongoing collaboration between the two governments to eliminate racial and ethnic discrimination and promote equality of opportunity for all. Under the Joint Action Plan, the United States and Brazil are working together to share best practices in civil rights and access to education, equal access to justice, access to health, environmental justice, and economic empowerment. In 2010, the United States and Brazil successfully organized a seminar on Public Safety and Promotion of Racial Equality in Washington, D.C., with law enforcement and public policy representatives from both countries; launched a small grants program with the Brazil Foundation to fund civil society-led social programs that further the goals of the Joint Action Plan; and hosted videoconferences between specialists in both countries on environmental justice.
  • Regional Efforts: The United States and Brazil, as strong supporters of the Inter American human rights system, have provided resources to support the efforts of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Afro-descendants and against Racial Discrimination of the Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
  • Education: The United States and Brazil agreed to establish an education initiative comprised of a technical education delegation, a seminar on equity, a short-term exchange program, and a Historically Black College and University network. The United States and Brazil will also jointly launch a multilateral initiative through the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to develop and disseminate an anti-racism educational curriculum for the 21st century. The Joint Action Plan 2011 Steering Group meeting, with high-level representation from the U.S. and Brazilian governments, will be held in Brazil in the summer of 2011.
  • Civil Society Dialogue: The U.S. and Brazilian civil society committees have launched an Internet portal to facilitate communication and collaboration between civil society elements in each country on Joint Action Plan objectives. Recognizing the importance of promoting language learning to promote cooperation, the portal will feature an innovative public-private partnership with Rosetta Stone to provide 300 Brazilians an opportunity to learn English and 300 Americans the opportunity to learn Portuguese through an on-line language learning platform.
  • Race, Ethnicity, and Social Inclusion Unit: In 2008, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution expressing support for the Joint Action Plan. In 2009, the Secretary received a letter of support from 17 members of Congress. The Department of State has funded a Senior Advisor and Special Assistant in the newly formed Race, Ethnicity, and Social Inclusion Unit within the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs.