A small state addressing big problems. Perspectives on recent Danish foreign and security strategy

Author (Person)
Series Title
Series Details Number 2
Publication Date 2020
Content Type


This report discusses Denmark's foreign and security strategy, the reason being that Denmark has none. While the country conducted an activist foreign policy for two decades it was only in 2017 that the then centre-right government developed a two-year foreign and security strategy. It was the first forward-looking document spelling out a collective Danish foreign and security strategy serving as official guidance to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defence. With the change of government in 2019 to a Social Democratic leadership, the future of Danish foreign and security strategy is uncertain – not only its substance but also whether dedicated strategizing will be continued. This question is only becoming more urgent with the global reach of the corona crisis.

The report finds that for a small state operating in a volatile geopolitical environment and addressing complex crises, a dedicated foreign and security strategy can play an important role. Four fundamental benefits are discussed:

  • To the extent that a foreign and security strategy communicates position and priorities, it can sharpen Denmark’s international identity and be a one stop shop to partner states and adversaries alike.
  • As a government-sanctioned document, it can allow a small state to be pro-active and agenda-setting internationally, rather than following its larger allies.
  • A strategy can support domestic political debate on foreign and security policy, because the actual drafting process is fundamentally inter-ministerial.
  • The publication of a strategy can provide a much-needed occasion to cultivate democratic and political scrutiny through regular public debate.

While finding advantages in principle of having a strategy for a small state such as Denmark, the report also argues that the Danish strategy has only partially delivered on its promise. Recommendations are made as to how to address the outstanding issues to allow Denmark more robust approach to its foreign and security strategizing.

Source Link https://www.diis.dk/node/23836
Alternative sources
  • https://pure.diis.dk/ws/files/3297157/Perspectives_recent_Danish_foreign_and_security_strategy_DIIS_Report_2_2020.pdf
Subject Categories
Countries / Regions