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Rubio Joins Menendez, Risch, and Colleagues in Calling for U.S. to Prioritize Democracy, Human Rights at ASEAN Summit

Mar 9, 2022 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jim Risch (R-ID), and Senate colleagues in sending a bipartisan letter to President Joe Biden calling for democracy, good governance, and human rights to be top priorities in the upcoming U.S.-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Leaders Summit. In light of recent trends toward democratic backsliding in Southeast Asia, the senators emphasized their concern that, if left unaddressed, developing dynamics in the region could undermine the United States’ efforts to work with partners to build a free and open Indo-Pacific.
 
“We strongly support your Administration’s hosting this gathering, and believe that strengthening and deepening U.S. engagement with ASEAN and working with our ASEAN partners to build functional problem-solving regional architecture are essential for the success of the larger Indo-Pacific strategy,” the senators wrote. “Indeed, as your Administration seeks to build a ‘Year of Action’ to turn commitments from the Summit for Democracy into concrete results that shore up democracies around the world – notably pushing back against the illusory appeal of authoritarianism, defending and promoting respect for human rights, and combating corruption – the U.S.-ASEAN Summit provides an important opportunity to demonstrate in tangible ways that our aspirations carry with them real and demonstrable policy action.”
 
To that end, the senators also requested a consultation between their offices and appropriate Administration officials at the earliest possible time to discuss planning and proposed activities at the Summit.
 
Rubio is a senior member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Risch and Menendez are Ranking Member and Chairman, respectively, of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
 
Rubio, Menendez, and Risch were joined in signing the letter by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Todd Young (R-IN), and Chris Coons (D-DE).
 
The full text of the letter is below.
  
Dear Mr. President,
 
As you prepare for the U.S.-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Leaders Summit now scheduled for March 28 and 29, we urge you to place democracy, good governance, and human rights as key items on the Summit’s agenda.
 
We strongly support your Administration’s hosting this gathering, and believe that strengthening and deepening U.S. engagement with ASEAN and working with our ASEAN partners to build functional problem-solving regional architecture are essential for the success of the larger Indo-Pacific strategy.
 
We are likewise concerned, however, with what can only be characterized as a trend of “democratic backsliding” in Southeast Asia over the past several years, including last year’s coup in Burma, and fear that if left unaddressed this dynamic will undermine U.S. efforts to work with our partners to construct a free and open Indo-Pacific animated not just by shared interests but by shared values.  Indeed, as your Administration seeks to build a “Year of Action” to turn commitments from the Summit for Democracy into concrete results that shore up democracies around the world – notably pushing back against the illusory appeal of authoritarianism, defending and promoting respect for human rights, and combating corruption – the U.S.-ASEAN Summit provides an important opportunity to demonstrate in tangible ways that our aspirations carry with them real and demonstrable policy action.
 
To that end, we request a consultation between our offices and appropriate Administration officials at the earliest possible time to discuss your planning and proposed activities to address democracy, rule of law, human rights and good governance for the U.S.-ASEAN Summit.
 
Sincerely,