I. The Sunnylands Initiative


The Sunnylands Initiative was established in January 2020 to advance a vision for cooperation on strengthening democratic governance in the Indo-Pacific region. Recognizing the absence of a regional infrastructure to defend freedom, human rights, democratic resilience, and the rule of law, leaders from the region have gathered in Anaheim, CA, Odawara, Japan, and Sydney, Australia, with the firm belief that sustained support of democratic norms and values is crucial to a robust and stable rules-based international order.


The inaugural convening in Sunnylands, California in January 2020, engaged in a closed strategic dialogue on supporting and strengthening democratic norms with a particular focus on regional democracy and female empowerment. The participants endorsed the "Sunnylands Principles on Enhancing Democratic Partnership in the Indo-Pacific Region." The subsequent Sunnylands Initiative in Odawara, Japan in August 2022, created a platform for participants to discuss and develop concrete strategies for defending and advancing democratic governance and human rights in the Indo-Pacific region. The participants signed the "Odawara Statement" to highlight the urgent need for democratic solidarity across the region. During the third convening in Sydney, Australia in April 2023, thought leaders and experts reaffirmed their steadfast commitment to the Sunnylands Principles and endorsed the "Sydney Statement" that outlined concrete action plans aimed at establishing an Indo-Pacific governance structure rooted in universal democratic values.



II. Sunnylands Special Convening in Seoul


The East Asia Institute, in collaboration with the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), hosted a Special Convening of the Sunnylands Initiative in Seoul. Thought leaders from across the Indo-Pacific region convened with a renewed commitment to support the vision outlined in the Sunnylands Principles. The 36 preeminent opinion leaders and key stakeholders from Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Republic of Korea, Samoa, Thailand, and the United States gathered on February 1-2 with a clear goal of providing policy recommendations to the South Korean government in the run-up to the third Summit for Democracy.



During the two-day convening, the group discussed:


- The state of democracy in the Indo-Pacific

- Recommendations for South Korea’s democratic leadership

- Progress of the ongoing and new working groups on partnering for democracy, democracy advocates at risk, anti-corruption, as well as technology and democracy

- Pathways for strengthening foreign aid for democracy support

- Opportunities to advance democracy through ROK-U.S.-Japan trilateral commitment

- Ways to strengthen democratic partnership with South and Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands


The Sunnylands Initiative Seoul Joint Statement outlines three key suggestions made by the participants to South Korea: (1) creation of a Korean democracy-support institution, (2) diversification of Official Development Assistance (ODA) for democracy assistance, and (3) establishment of a regional democracy coalition.


To read the Seoul Joint Statement, click HERE.



Copyedited by: Jisoo Park, Research Associate
    For Inquiries: 02 2277 1683 (ext. 208) | jspark@eai.or.kr

Major Project

Center for Democracy Cooperation

Detailed Business

Asia Democracy Research Network


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