Who we are

Defenders of Democracy (DDbxl) is a community of Brussels-based individuals (professionally supporting democracy, human rights and rule of law) who are deeply concerned about the urgent and growing threats to European democracy from both inside and outside the EU. We work to understand those threats and expose the forces who are fuelling them. We support each other in a shared effort to safeguard and renew liberal democracy.

What we do

  • We defend Article 2 of the EU Treaty as the soul of the European Union;
  • We provide moral support to those who stand up for democracy;
  • We develop content to stimulate a public debate;
  • We exchange ideas, research, opinion and projects – deepening our work and providing moral support to one another;
  • We organise events to grow and support a larger community of democracy defenders.

Why we do it

We sense that Brussels – the institutions, the political parties and the interest groups – has grasped neither the scale nor the urgency of the threat to European liberal democracy. The public debate lacks the energy and focus that our times demand; much of the leadership seems complacent and too eager to dismiss what’s happening as a populist blip.

We will not prevail by merely restating European – or universal – values. We urgently need to understand and expose how our democratic institutions and norms are being undermined each day. We need to draw, monitor and defend red lines now.

We recognise that liberal democracy has its own flaws and failings. Although democracy remains the “least worst form of government”; some people rightly feel let down. But insurgent and illiberal political forces are abusing those grievances to destroy faith in the very institutions that can still provide democratic answers, and which still offer the best guarantee of our fundamental freedoms, rights, security, and prosperity. As we fight to save what can and must be saved, we must also start the work of building what comes next.

Alice Stollmeyer, Executive Director, Defending Democracy

Andrew Stroehlein, Europe Media Director, Human Rights Watch

Anthony Zacharzewski, Founder, Democratic Society

Heather Grabbe, Director, Open Society European Policy Institute

James Kanter, EU correspondent

Jonathan Hill, Director of Communications, former Yukos owners


Organisational note

The communities’ organisational team consists of a leader/spokesperson, supported by an Advisory Group of unpaid individuals. DDbxl is not a coalition of other organisations, nor does it speak for any of the groups associated with the individuals on the Advisory Group.

The leader of the organisation is Alice Stollmeyer, who is Executive Director at Defending Democracy.

She is assisted by an unpaid Advisory Group comprised of:

  • Andrew Stroehlein, Europe Media Director, Human Rights Watch
  • Anthony Zacharzewski, Founder, Democratic Society
  • Heather Grabbe, Director, Open Society European Policy Institute
  • James Kanter, EU correspondent
  • Jonathan Hill, Director of Communications, former Yukos owners