Juliette Dumont (IHEAL, Paris 3) and Juan Pablo Scarfi (Visiting scholar, IHEAL, Paris 3 / Universidad Nacional de San Martín-CONICET, Argentina)

1 février 2019

As it is the case with US-Latin American relations, Pan-Americanism is in itself a complex and contending interdisciplinary field. More importantly, there has been always an important controversy over the origins and current legacy of Pan-Americanism, that is, over how its past has shaped its future prospects. On the one hand, it has been argued that the progenitor and first Pan-Americanist was indeed Simon Bolivar when he sketched plans for a continental congress, that led in turn to the Panama Congress (1826), an initiative that did not include an invitation to the US. Paradoxically, this initiative was seen as a reaction to the US Monroe Doctrine, which was interpreted as a unilateral principle enunciated by John Quincy Adams and James Monroe by 1823. At the same time, Pan-Americanism emerged as a term in the 1880s and was coined by Secretary of State James Blaine to designate a movement initiated in the US that sought to strengthen US commercial relations and investment in Latin America, generate mechanisms of arbitration and the peaceful settlement of international disputes in the Americas, as well as promote intellectual and cultural cooperation between the US and Latin America. This process led eventually to the so-called Inter-American System, that is, the Pan-American conferences and the rise of the Pan American Union by 1910, which transformed itself into the OAS by 1948.

All in all, there has been always a contending debate over whether Pan-Americanism has been a hegemonic policy of the US, as the works of David Sheinin and Ricardo Salvatore have defined it, or an authentic policy of continental cooperation between the US and Latin America within which Latin American states have created grounds and scope for participating with autonomy, and even moderating US interventionism, legitimizing and institutionalizing Latin American initiatives and agency at a continental and global levels. While Sheinin has defined Pan-Americanism as “the friendly face of US dominance in the hemisphere,” recent revisionist literature has shown the great agency and capacity of Latin American states and the regional networks of diplomats, jurists and intellectuals within the region to moderate US unilateralism and interventionism and more importantly promote the creation of institutions, norms and mechanisms to promote Latin American autonomous agency within Pan-Americanism and inter-American institutions.

This presentation focuses on the roots of the Pan-American movement in its early stages in the fields of arbitration and international law, on the one hand, and intellectual cooperation on the other, and Latin American contributions to the construction and consolidation of these initiatives and networks of cooperation within a US-led hegemonic continental movement. It argues that Latin American contributions to intellectual cooperation and the promotion of arbitration, peace and international law were at the core of the construction and consolidation of the foundational and institutional initiatives that contributed to consolidate Pan-Americanism as a continental, regional and global movement, contributing to shape its legacy in contemporary Latin American internationalism.

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