Committee for the Defence of Democracy

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Komitet Obrony Demokracji, KOD
KOD logo
The KOD logo
Legal statusAssociation
HeadquartersWarsaw (Poland), Brussels (International)
Region served
Country-wide, International
AffiliationsKOD International, KOD UK, KOD Polonia USA
A KOD demonstration in Warsaw, on 19 December 2015.
A KOD demonstration in Gdańsk on 19 December 2015.
Roger Waters wearing a T-shirt with the inscription "Konstytucja #KOD" during his concert in Gdańsk on August 5, 2018.

The Committee for the Defence of Democracy, CDD(Polish: Komitet Obrony Demokracji, KOD) is a Polish-born civic organization and NGO promoting European values, especially democracy, rule of law and human rights,[1] founded in November 2015 by a group of citizens including Mateusz Kijowski, as a result of, and triggered by, the Polish constitutional crisis, 2015. The organization is independent of any political parties[2] and has declared that it has no intention to transform into one,[3] but according to the World Socialist Web Site, its events and actions are supported by the liberal opposition including the Modern (.N) and Civic Platform (PO) parties.[4][unreliable source?] It is opposed to the actions of the government led by the Law and Justice (PiS) party.[5]

KOD has its Polish headquarters in Warsaw and international office in Brussels[6] (KOD International), with chapters and affiliated associations around Europe, in North America, Asia and Australia.[7]

The organization was awarded the 2016 European Citizens' Prize by the European Parliament for defending fundamental rights and democracy.[8]


KOD was formed after Law and Justice won parliament election. In opposition to several actions taken by the governing party, Law and Justice (Polish: Prawo i Sprawiedliwość, PiS),[5] which in October 2015 became the first party in post-communist Polish history to control an absolute majority of the seats in the Polish Parliament, with a PiS-backed candidate, Andrzej Duda, winning the presidential elections just a few months earlier.[9] The primary impetus for the formation of KOD was the Parliament’s enactment of a law on 26 November 2015 purporting to invalidate the prior Government’s appointment of five judges to the Polish Constitutional Court and the nomination of new PiS-affiliated judges to replace them.[10][11] Since then the organisation has opposed and reacted to any actions taken by the government or President Andrzej Duda which were deemed unlawful, undermining democracy, limiting civil liberties or going against European principles.[12]


On November 26, 2015, the members of KOD wrote an open letter entitled “A Letter of the Citizens of the Constitutional State to Andrzej Duda, the President of Poland” asking him to swear in three of the five judges to the Constitutional Court. KOD argued that those three, although not the other two, were duly elected by the previous parliament.[13]

As the disagreements between the governing party and the Constitutional Court continued, KOD called for protests against what it perceives as a breach of the Constitution in violation of democratic norms and the constitutional separation of powers between the legislature, executive branch, and judiciary.[11]

The former leader, Mateusz Kijowski, left the organisation in 2017 after being accused of appropriating 121 thousand złoty.[14].

  • Demonstration, which was estimated by “Der Spiegel” and “Le Monde” to include 50,000 demonstrators,[15][16] and at between 17,000 and 20,000 people by the police,[17] took place in front of the headquarters of the Constitutional Court in Warsaw on December 12, 2015. Parallel demonstrations were also held in other major Polish cities, including: Poznań (over 2,000 people), Szczecin (over 2,000 people), Wrocław (approx. 2,000 people), Lublin (500), and Bielsko-Biała (200).
  • On December 13, 2015, over 3,000 people demonstrated in Gdańsk.[citation needed].
  • On January 9, 2016, there were demonstrations on the "Free Media" in 20 cities in Poland.[citation needed]
  • On January 23, 2016, 40 cities and towns in Poland saw protests about "Defense of Your freedom".[citation needed]
  • A demonstration with 70,000 people was held in Warsaw on 27 February; it was called "We, the People".[citation needed]
  • A demonstration under the theme "We are and will remain in Europe" took place on May 7 in Warsaw and was estimated to gather up to 240,000 people by City Hall.[18]

Most of the protests in Poland are accompanied by smaller protests by KOD cells in most European capitals and around the world, notably in Brussels, London, Paris, Berlin and the USA.[19]

In December 2019, the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights and the Committee for the Defence of Democracy organized protests throughout Poland against the Polish judicial disciplinary panel law.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About KOD". Committee for the Defence of Democracy. Retrieved 2017-03-25.
  2. ^ "About KOD". Committee for the Defence of Democracy. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  3. ^ "Oświadczenie KOD w sprawie partii politycznych - Komitet Obrony Demokracji". Komitet Obrony Demokracji (in Polish). Retrieved 2016-03-10.
  4. ^ Weiss, Clara (25 February 2016). "Polish government expands police state powers". World Socialist Web Site. Retrieved 2019-08-31.
  5. ^ a b Orłowski, Maciej (21 November 2015). "Powstał społeczny ruch Komitet Obrony Demokracji. Ma już ponad 20 tys. zwolenników". Retrieved 2016-03-10.
  6. ^ "Who is Who - International". Committee for the Defence of Democracy. Retrieved 2017-03-25.
  7. ^ "Who is Who - Diaspora". Committee for the Defence of Democracy. Retrieved 2017-03-25.
  8. ^ "KOD wins the European Citizens' Prize 2016". New Europeans. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  9. ^ "Poland's Eurosceptics win outright majority in parliament". Reuters. 2015-10-27. Retrieved 2016-03-10.
  10. ^ "Sejm anulował wybór sędziów Trybunału Konstytucyjnego". Newsweek Polska (in Polish). November 26, 2015. Retrieved December 15, 2015.
  11. ^ a b Niemitz, Dorota. "Tens of thousands march in Warsaw against constitutional coup - World Socialist Web Site". Retrieved 2016-03-10.
  12. ^ "Xenophobic, authoritarian – and generous on welfare: how Poland's right rules". The Economist. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  13. ^ "Ostry list Komitetu Obrony Demokracji do Prezydenta!". (in Polish). Retrieved 2016-03-10.
  14. ^ "Kijowski odszedł z KOD, bo chcieli go wyrzucić". Do Rzeczy (in Polish). 2017-07-27. Retrieved 2019-05-07.
  15. ^ "50 000 manifestants à Varsovie pour " défendre la démocratie "". Le Monde (in French). December 12, 2015. Retrieved December 15, 2015.
  16. ^ "Zehntausende demonstrieren gegen Präsident Duda". Der Spiegel online (in German). December 12, 2015. Retrieved December 22, 2015.
  17. ^ Redakcja Radia ZET. "Policja: Na warszawskiej manifestacji KOD 17-20 tys. osób". Policja: Na warszawskiej manifestacji KOD 17-20 tys. osób - Wiadomości. Retrieved 2016-03-16.
  18. ^ "Some 240k demonstrate against Polish government policies in Warsaw". Press TV. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  19. ^ "Polonia manifestowała na całym świecie. Protesty KOD w UK, Francji, USA, Australii, Niemczech". (in Polish). Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  20. ^ [1] Poland could be forced to leave EU by its judicial reforms, top court says, EU Observer

External links[edit]