The United States Studies Centre and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) hosted a special event to hear from leaders across the region about the state of play for democracy and how aligned countries can work together. The event featured a keynote address followed by a panel discussion.

Keynote address

Australian economist Professor Sean Turnell spent much of his professional career studying the Myanmar economy and moved there to advise the State Counsellor of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi. After the February 2021 coup d’état toppled the democratically-elected government and the military assumed control of the country, Turnell was detained and imprisoned for nearly two years along with almost 6,000 others while more than 800 people were killed in the violent uprising.

Panel discussion: Regional approaches to supporting democracy

  • Ambassador Yukio Takasu, Chair, Future of Democracy Study Project and Former Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
  • Dr Sook Jong Lee, President Emeritus, Senior Fellow and Professor of Public Administration, Sungkyunkwan University
  • Dr Henry Ivarature, Deputy Director, Strategic Engagement, Australia Pacific Security College, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University
  • Moderated by Dr Michael Green, CEO, United States Studies Centre 

The panel reported on the Sydney round of the Sunnylands Initiative co-sponsored by the NED and USSC to assess the state of democracy in the Indo-Pacific and identify pathways to strengthen democratic partnership. Other participants in the conversation included representatives of Freedom House, the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, and thought leaders from across the Indo-Pacific.