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ReflectiÖns on 200 Years of the Monroe Doctrine


With this post we start our new, open-ended symposium entitled ‘ReflectiÖns on 200 Years of the Monroe Doctrine’. On the 2nd December 1823, U.S. President James Monroe delivered his famous State of the Union address to the U.S. Congress: in his speech, Monroe denied European colonization and interference in the two American continents. Since then, the Monroe Doctrine has often been reinterpreted and has increasingly developed a Janus-faced character: from the anti-colonial impetus of 1823 to a doctrine justifying imperialism and war.

So, the question still arises in light of its bicentenary: What does the Monroe Doctrine – or perhaps better: the multiple Monroe Doctrines since 1823 – actually stand for today? How can we look back on it 200 years after its first appearance? Answers are not immediately obvious, and the vagueness of the Monroe Doctrine does its part. Of course, this vagueness is no coincidence. Reason enough to devote more research to the doctrine, which is of central importance for the history of international relations and international law. Surprisingly enough, as Juan Pablo Scarfi has argued, ‘although the bicentenary of the Monroe Doctrine is approaching in 2023, we have not seen much significant scholarly discussion over its legacy in recent years’.

In this reflectiÖns Symposium, we want to do our part to change this. Therefore, we call for contributions from multiple disciplines and perspectives that reflect on the Monroe Doctrine and its history of impact from its origins to the present day. In the spirit of our new reflectÖns format, contributions in various formats can be submitted to this open-ended symposium on a running basis: written blog texts of between 1500-2500 words as well as recorded comments or conversations (audio as well as video) of up to 20 minutes. If you want to contribute and/or have any questions or ideas, please contact our review team

To get the ball rolling, we have invited Juan Pablo Scarfi to give a video lecture on ‘The Monroe Doctrine: Towards a New Historiography’. In his talk, which is a shorter version of a keynote lecture that he gave at a conference on the Monroe Doctrine in Frankfurt on 2nd December 2023, Scarfi points to less well-trodden paths in the historiography of the Monroe Doctrine, especially with regard to Latin American interpretations of the doctrine. And of course, Scarfi’s lecture is also a good point of reference for further reflectiÖns within this symposium…!

Juan Pablo Scarfi

Juan Pablo Scarfi is an Assistant Professor of International Relations at the Catholic University of Chile.

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Hendrik Simon

Hendrik Simon is Researcher at the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt and Lecturer at Goethe University Frankfurt. Among his main publications is ‘The Myth of Liberum Ius ad Bellum. Justifying War in 19th-Century Legal Theory and Political Practice’, in The European Journal of International Law (2018). He is an editor at Völkerrechtsblog.

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