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Based on the case of Brazil, this article looks deep into the state apparatus and analyzes the organic relationship between state commitments to human rights and the work of bureaucrats who are motivated by human rights values and ideas. Brazil had a consolidated history of engagement with the international human rights regime until Jair Bolsonaro was elected President. That history was marked by a foreign policy that was active in international human rights norm-making, as well as by domestic institutions and policies that sought to promote rights at home. An engaged state made room for the work of human rights bureaucrats in the federal government, including diplomats, officials at the Ministry of Human Rights, and beyond. Since the election of Bolsonaro, however, the Brazilian state has reversed and revised its foreign and domestic policies. As a result, bureaucrats who were dedicated to human rights work are now faced with persecution, having to oblige to the new foreign policy in the case of diplomats, or having to find somewhere else to work or something else to do, in the case of non-diplomats.