Democracy Drinks launch in The Hague
“Democracy is like a marriage. It is a verb; it is something you need to work on. You cannot take it for granted.” – Alice Stollmeyer, Executive director, Defend Democracy.
Across the world, we see signs of democracy in retreat. In many states the breaking down of democratic values has long been at play, however, even in more established democracies we now see the same early signs of backsliding. It has become clear that for too long we have taken our ‘marriage’ to democracy for granted. Even in the Netherlands, we are starting to see the same signs of backsliding of the democratic values that we have come to recognise all too well.
On 3 September 2021, we therefore welcomed democracy defenders, friends and colleagues, based in The Hague, for the launch of the inaugural Democracy Drinks in the Netherlands. The event is an initiative of Defend Democracy, first hosted in October 2018 in Brussels. Defend Democracy focusses on defending liberal democracy against internal, external and technological threats. The concept of Democracy Drinks is borrowed from the sustainability sector’s “Green Drinks”, with the aim of acting as a monthly informal networking event bringing together fellow thinkers, advocates, organisers and enthusiasts in pro-democracy spaces around the globe (Democracy Drinks are currently held in Washington DC, Berlin Brussels, Kathmandu and The Hague). The Hague’s Democracy Drinks are jointly hosted by the Netherlands Helsinki Committee (NHC) and the Netherlands Institute of Multiparty Democracy (NIMD), and this inaugural edition was kicked off by short welcoming remarks from the hosts.
“At the beginning I thought, drinks, drinks? We have to build democracy! However, in order to do so, we need a very strong coalition. Not only in the rest of the world, where you see that democracy is in difficulty, but also in the Netherlands we have to think about how to make democracy work every day.” Thijs Berman, Executive Director, Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy.
Over drinks in the garden of the Nutshuis, passions and ideas were shared as we enjoyed the first in person event in nearly two years. From active Human Rights Defenders to passionate students looking for inspiring speakers, we were joined by a diverse group of individuals from across the field. Together we discussed the effect of COVID-19 on our work, the backsliding of democracy in our home countries, but also our hopes and ideas for the future.
“As a proud tenant in these beautiful surroundings, the Nutshuis, we hope to be able to gather here for future Democracy Drinks. Here, at the Nutshuis we are working together with Justice and Peace and the Human Security Collective to create the Human Rights Space that we hope to be a home to those people who want to invest in and strive for human rights, democracy and Rule of Law.” Pepijn Gerrits, Executive Director, Netherlands Helsinki Committee.
In her opening speech, Stollmeyer said, “democracy in itself is much broader [than freedom. Democracy, rights] it is about values.” Therefore, the aim of Democracy Drinks is to “create a circle of likeminded people.” We hope that you join us for the next Democracy Drinks to share your passion for democracy and join the movement! Sign up for the mailing list via firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the NHC
The Netherlands Helsinki Committee is a non-governmental organisation that promotes human rights and strengthens the rule of law and democracy in all countries of Europe, including the Central Asian countries participating in the OSCE.
Our work lies primarily in executing projects to strengthen legal protection and improve public policies that affect vulnerable or disadvantaged groups. We support human rights NGOs to withstand governmental pressure. Additionally, we work to improve the implementation of OSCE human dimension commitments and other international human rights agreements. We take active part in several civil society networks of human rights NGOs in Europe.
About the NIMD
The Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD) works to promote peaceful, just and inclusive politics worldwide. Our approach across all our programmes is unique and characterized by dialogue: we bring politicians from across the political spectrum together.
We work on their knowledge and competences and empower them to cooperate in a constructive manner on issues that affect them, their country and the broader region. To that end, we work with the entire political sector in a country, from aspiring politicians to political leaders, and from national to local level.
About Democracy Drinks
Every month, freedom-loving citizens meet up at informal networking events known as #DemocracyDrinks. The events attract a lively mixture of people from NGOs, international institutions, think tanks, national governments and representations, academia, public affairs consultancies, social businesses, and other active citizens.
#DemocracyDrinks are a great way of making new contacts and catching up with people you know; for testing ideas and planning actions; for moral support and inspiration. Feel free to invite friends and colleagues that work on or are interested in defending values like democracy, rule of law, human rights… Come along and you will be made welcome. Check here for an upcoming Democracy Drink near you.