• Emma Margon Prip
  • Maj Wiben Ebbekær
4. term, Global Refugee Studies, Master (Master Programme)
For decades, Danish Official Development Assistance (ODA) has been characterized by a primary focus on poverty reduction in developing countries. However, since the turn of the century, academic debate surrounds the question of whether this is still the case. This is due to expanding use of the Danish ODA. E.g., an increasing amount of the Danish ODA is funding the reception of refugees in Denmark. Looking back over the 21st century, this proves to be particularly the case in times of significant refugee influx in Denmark. Thus, the academic debate concerns whether this broader use of the Danish ODA signifies how the handling of refugees is increasingly taking priority over the focus on poverty reduction.

Accepting the stance in the literature, that there has been a shift in priorities of Danish ODA towards handling refugees, this thesis sets out to uncover how these new prioritizations are framed in Danish political discourses. With a focus on the three periods within the 21st century where Denmark has received the most refugees, the aim is to investigate the discursive tools that are employed by Danish politicians when they frame this use of the Danish ODA. The three periods of investigation are; The onset of the War on Terror, the European Refugee Crisis, and the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine. Because Denmark has a tendency to spend more of its ODA on refugee reception during such larger refugee influxes, speeches from these exact periods are significant in revealing how Danish politicians are presenting both the crises itself and the incoming refugees, and how that might be a part of framing the need to use the Danish ODA in a particular manner.

In order to look at these political discourses, speeches from each of the periods are analyzed through Laclau and Mouffe’s method of discourse analysis. This method allows for a focus on the framing and argumentation employed by the politicians when presenting how Danish ODA should be used. Accordingly, through Laclau and Mouffe’s theory of identities, the analysis investigates the framing of the specific identities of the incoming refugees, and whether the framing changes throughout the century. This allows for a comparison of how different groups of refugees are perceived. This is combined with the theory of securitization as described by Wæver and Buzan et al.. This theory allows for an investigation into whether the crises that result in the larger refugee streams invoke a perceived necessity to protect Denmark.
The analysis indicates that, while poverty reduction is still a focus for Danish ODA, in our periods of analysis, this focus is pushed aside by matters perceived as more important. While the specific object that is perceived as more important differs between the periods, the periods share a discursive tendency to employ securitization moves to allow the ODA’s focus to shift to these matters. A general tendency is that the speeches from all three periods touch upon the threat that incoming refugees are perceived to pose, or not pose, to the Danish welfare society and whether the crisis that is threatening the refugees can also be perceived as threatening Denmark. This second kind of threat is both perceived as physical and ideological. This is due to the crisis being a potential threat to the physical safety of Denmark, and due to the aggressor of the crisis being represented as spreading ideologies opposing Danish values. The securitization moves are, thus, highly connected to the notion of protecting Denmark and Danish identity.

The utilization of securitization moves aims to emphasize the necessity of allocating an adequate budget, coming from the ODA, to handle the perceived threat. Such an approach could potentially raise concerns of non-compliance with the official guidelines of ODA, which prohibit the spending of these funds for self-interested security purposes. Thus, while this thesis focuses on unveiling the discourses that frame the prioritization of securing Denmark through the ODA, we encourage future research to investigate whether this use of ODA indeed violates the agreement against employing ODA for self-protection.
Publication date27 May 2023
Number of pages74
ID: 531858166