Opening Panel: Nation, defence and the right to rights - A conversation between civil society and defence on resistance in the face of assaults on freedoms

Nation, defence and the right to rights

A discussion on personal responsibility in the face of assaults on liberty in democracies and repressive regimes.


Civil society actors are ideologically diverse, ranging from authoritarian to libertarian. Their take on the issues of freedom, security and defence will vary dramatically. As are institutions tasked with safeguarding security and stability through law enforcement, military operations or civilian missions.

But what are common patterns of assaults on personal and collective liberties, and how should Václav Havel’s “powerless” individual respond to this?

In this panel we bring together leaders from civil society and defence experts for sense-making around personal responsibility. In response to, and recovery from, repression and armed conflict.

We will be exploring the following topics:

  • Strategic role of civil society in geopolitics: What threats to freedoms (at home) does illiberal nationalism pose in a multipolar world? What strategic role does civil society play?
  • Women at the helm: Some of the greatest civil society mobilisations against attacks on liberties in recent time are women centred. And many of those attacks are driven by civil society movements. Why?
  • Failure modes of civil society mobilisations: Are there rights struggles that risk eroding liberal democracies?
  • The right to rights: What factors impact civil society’s ability to operate effectively in times of peace and conflict respectively? How does introduction, use and regulation of networked communication technologies play into this?

This session will consist of a moderated panel, followed by a peer to peer discussion. The objective is for participants to leave with new insights and connections.


09:15 (pre-event mingle) The video channel opens for people to drop in and connect before the session

09:30 - 10:00 Moderated panel

10:00 - 11:00 Discussion (open floor)


Markéta Gregorová: Czech politician and member of the European Parliament representing the Czech Pirate Party. She is currently Vice-Chair of the Delegation to the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly, and is a member of the Committee on International Trade and the Special Committee on Foreign Interference in all Democratic Processes in the European Union, including Disinformation.

Hynek Pallas: Hynek Pallas is a filmmaker, critic, journalist and author. Pallas was born in Prague 1975 and grew up in Sweden. He has written several books concerning racism, film, migration, minorities and Central Europe. His latest book, “The Greengrocer” (2021) takes its cue from Václav Havels concept “the power of the powerless” and examines contemporary threats against liberal democracies."

Samuel Buschorn: German-American engineer and technologist working in aerospace, mobility, new materials, new production systems, and alternative work organisation - all with an eye to improving sustainability and resilience. Having collaborated with EU, WEF, WB, or large enterprises on these topics his focus is more on bottom-up principles and opportunities, and what they mean in a larger context.

Carolin Heilig: German PhD candidate at UCL’s School of Slavonic and East European Studies and a former Early-Stage Researcher in the Horizon 2020 FATIGUE project. Her research focuses on illiberalism and civil society mobilisation around gender issues in Poland. She graduated from St Antony’s College, University of Oxford with a degree in Russian and East European Studies and has spent time as a visiting scholar at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow and the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder).*

About the Organisers

The event is organised in partnership with University College London, UK, Tartu University, Estonia, Jagiellonian University, Poland, Charles University, Czech Republic, and Corvinus University of Budapest, Hungary). The event is the final conference of PopRebel, a European research project on neo-feudalism and neo-traditionalism. It is coordinated by Edgeryders OÜ, A non profit think-tank based in Estonia. We help groups and organizations to harness the power of collective intelligence for wiser, more effective ways to work together and make decisions. More information about the event can be found at


The event is free to attend provide you RSVP. To do that, please use the form below. You can find more info about the different panels on the main conference page.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 822682.