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2 Policy context

The APP was initiated at a time when donor governments increasingly incorporated conflict prevention into their development policies. Ensuring peace and stability became an integral part of the quest to reduce poverty, while subsequently in the post 9/11 era the quest to reduce poverty – i.e. development cooperation – became an integral part of foreign policy (including defence and security). At the same time, aid effectiveness became a central component of the development agenda with donor governments committing themselves to increase ownership, alignment, harmonisation and mutual accountability in their aid delivery. The provision of support through existing country and regional systems (like budget support) was part of that approach.

It is against this background that the APP was developed, and therefore this environment should be taken into account when assessing the APP. This chapter presents a brief overview of the overall Danish development cooperation policy framework of the period subject to this evaluation, as well as an overview of the peace and security issues within those frameworks.

2.1 General policy framework for Danish development cooperation 2004-2017

During the period from 2004 to 2017, Danish development cooperation has been guided by four consecutive strategy documents.[4] All four documents identify poverty reduction and sustainable growth and development as the overriding objectives of Danish development cooperation. Other recurring issues are gender equality, environmental sustainability (linked to climate change), peace and stability, and human rights.

Throughout the years, strategies have increasingly linked Danish development efforts to Denmark’s own (economic) stability and development, making clear that a lack of stability and progress in developing countries can have a direct impact on Denmark.[5] This trend is in line with the development agendas of other Western donor governments, where the global financial crisis, the refugee crisis and an increasing polarisation of public debates have led to a focus on using aid to serve national interests. The strategies therefore underline that development cooperation is an integral part of Danish foreign policy, stating that Danish development cooperation shall contribute to advancing Denmark’s interests in a more peaceful, stable, and equal world.[6] A wide range of policy areas can have an impact – positive and negative – on development. These include policies for defence and security, trade, industry, the labour market, agriculture, tax, the environment, climate and energy. A lack of coherence between policies and instruments can undermine the effort to fight poverty and create sustainable development. To achieve a higher degree of synergy in development, all four strategies underline the need for a coherent approach in order to strengthen the link between relevant Danish policies and instruments.[7]

Denmark consistently relies on long-term, mutually binding partnerships with developing countries and other participants in development cooperation. In building these partnerships, Denmark positions itself as a solid and reliable partner, underlining that a successful partnership requires mutual commitment, flexibility, political will and the ability to bring about change – acknowledging that change is often difficult and requires a long-term commitment.[8] The strategies underline that Denmark is recognised and respected as a credible and open partner in its cooperation with developing countries. In addition, there should be predictability in Danish priorities and assistance funds as well as transparency in decisions, requirements and consequences.[9]

These strategies highlight that Denmark’s partners have to take the lead in setting priorities and ensuring relevance to local needs. The documents also stress the need to be innovative and prepared to accept mistakes and setbacks on the way to long-term progress.[10] Minor or short-term setbacks are dealt with as part of the on-going dialogue with partners and within the framework of the individual programme.[11]

This links to the need to monitor and document results: another issue that consistently features in all four strategies. As part of the partnership approach, the strategies note that joint control and responsibility for both the administration of development assistance and its results are the best guarantors of efficient and result-oriented cooperation. Development results should be documented, assessed. and communicated. In mutually binding cooperation with partner countries, organisations and other development partners, Denmark will define specific targets and monitor progress so that it can identify the results achieved and adjust its engagement accordingly.[12] The strategies recognise that development and change are not simple strategies that can be created in a day, but rather require sustained commitment that may often be difficult and time-consuming.[13]

Denmark uses different policy instruments for its development engagement. Until 2017, sector programme and budget support were key instruments in Danish aid, as these were considered most suitable for promoting ownership, capacity, and mutual accountability.[14] As such, Denmark followed international principles for effective development assistance, including those found in the Paris Declaration, Accra Agenda for Action and New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States. However, the 2017 strategy for development cooperation states that Denmark will not conclude new bilateral agreements on general budget aid as a development policy instrument. Instead, Denmark will continue its work in specific thematic areas and in sectors where support, including the results achieved, can be monitored closely. This change of policy is in line with the general trend among other like-minded development partners in recent years.

Africa has consistently been the main geographic concentration for Danish development cooperation – partly due to the fact that the development needs in the African region are considered to be the most dire.[15] In addition, Africa offers the possibility to concentrate initiatives on regional anchors of stability in areas where Danish security and migration policy interests are involved and where engagements can add substantial value.[16] All four strategies state the need for Denmark to focus its engagement on a selected number of countries. Throughout the evaluation period, Denmark has reduced the number of countries receiving Danish assistance and supported increased regional cooperation between developing countries. The support not only focuses on partner countries’ regional engagement, but also on relevant regional institutions and initiatives.[17] In this way, Denmark positions itself as a progressive development actor, leading the way in promoting increased division of labour between all development actors.[18]

2.2 Peace and security as part of Danish development cooperation 2004-2017

Support of the prevention, management, and settlement of armed conflicts in developing countries has been a key component of Danish development cooperation throughout the evaluation period. Each of the four Danish strategies on development cooperation link lasting and stable peace to development assistance, and focus specifically on tackling the underlying and structural causes of conflict.[19] Peace and security are considered preconditions for development, and development a precondition for lasting peace and stability.[20] Denmark presented a policy specifically aimed at peace and stabilisation in fragile states, which became a central component of its development assistance and foreign policy.[21] Denmark concentrates its support to fragile states on five specific areas: 1) stabilisation and security; 2) promotion of improved livelihoods and economic opportunities; 3) democratisation, good governance and human rights; 4) conflict prevention; and 5) regional conflict management.[22]

Throughout the years, Denmark’s assistance in the field of peace and security has consistently revolved around three fundamental premises: local ownership and dialogue, coordination, and coherence among the various activities.[23]

In terms of local ownership, Denmark aims to build up countries’ own conflict prevention and peaceful resolution capacities.[24] It aims to do so through the establishment of effective, accountable and inclusive institutions and mechanisms for conflict resolution, the support of reforms for armed forces and the police, and the strengthening of state abilities to supply basic services. Denmark also focuses on dialogue, mediation and the prevention of radicalisation.[25]

The premise of coordination is applied both regionally and internationally. More specifically, Denmark aims to contribute to developing countries’ efforts to build regional capacity for the prevention and management of armed conflicts, to carry out peacekeeping operations, and to strengthen regional forums as mechanisms for cooperation and conflict prevention.[26] The 2010 and 2017 strategies refer specifically to the AU in this regard, stating that regional forums such as the AU are important contributors to local solutions (in addition to the United Nations and the European Union). Denmark supports the AU in its efforts to become better equipped to play a leading role in regional peacekeeping operations.[27] Given their general level, no reference is made to the APP however, in any of the four overarching strategy documents.[28] This is different for fragile states policy, where the APP is presented as one of the instruments listed under the focal area of regional conflict management, stating that Denmark provides direct support for the AU’s, ECOWAS’ and IGAD’s own strategic plans (2004-2014: DKK 500 million).[29] It also states that Denmark will build upon the APP with the Danish Peace and Stability Fund, and that military and other regional security capacities may be supported through cooperation with the Danish armed forces.[30]

The various policy documents also highlight the need for international coordination, stating that the international community must take joint responsibility for peace and security issues. In this regard, Denmark emphasizes the need for a stronger international division of labour and close cooperation with EU partners and multilateral organisations to enable the necessary prioritisation of Denmark’s efforts in fragile and conflict-affected settings (FCS).[31] Reference is made to international policy frameworks like the Millennium Development Goals, the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States, and Sustainable Development Goal No. 16 regarding peace, justice and institutions and Goal No. 17 on partnerships. The latter two guide the current Danish development cooperation, as they are considered basic choices on which the entire Danish engagement is based and act as a foundation for achieving results within other goals. Goals No. 16 and 17 thus represent a connecting thread in Danish development policy.[32]

Finally, the premise of coherence is applied to Denmark’s own efforts to support the prevention, management and settlement of armed conflicts in developing countries. Denmark is a pioneer in integration and a whole-of-government approach in the broader security policy area. With reference to the engagements of the Peace and Stability Fund, Denmark underlines the need to strengthen integration and coordination of its diplomatic, development, security and humanitarian efforts in fragile and conflict-affected settings.[33] The 2017 strategy for development cooperation underlines the importance of regional connections, stating that these will define the framework for integration of future interventions. Country programmes and other national interventions in connection with conflict prevention and resilience will be increasingly linked to regional programmes for peace and stability.[34] However, no specific reference is made to the APP.[35] Notably, Danish programmes within APP countries do not typically refer to the APP. Only the Somalia Country Programme (SCP) for 2015-2018 references the APP, stating that the APP provides a broad mechanism to support continental peacebuilding and political initiatives in Somalia, noting that the SCP can engage in different locations. Also, reference is made to the fact that Somalia engages interests in the AU and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, which are partners to the APP.[36] For other country programmes analysed, no APP reference was found.[37]


[4] These strategies are: Partnership 2000 (2000); Freedom from Poverty – Freedom to Change (2010); The Right to a Better Life (2012); and The World 2030 (2017). In addition, the Danish government annually publishes its priorities for development cooperation for the coming four years (see: http://amg.um.dk/en/policies-and-strategies/priorities-of-the-danish-government/). These priority documents fall within the wider frameworks provided by the strategy documents.

[5] See e.g. Freedom from Poverty – Freedom to Change (2010), p. 5 / The World 2030 (2017), p. 1.

[6] The Right to a Better Life (2012), p. 3.

[7] Freedom from Poverty – Freedom to Change (2010), p. 14.

8 See e.g. Freedom from Poverty – Freedom to Change (2010), p. 6 / The Right to a Better Life (2012), p. 33 / The World 2030 (2017), p. 11.

[9] Freedom from Poverty – Freedom to Change (2010), p. 12 / p. 14.

[10] Freedom from Poverty – Freedom to Change (2010), p. 6.

[11] Partnership 2000 (2000), pp. 14-15.

[12] Freedom from Poverty – Freedom to Change (2010), p. 31.

[13] Freedom from Poverty – Freedom to Change (2010), p. 6.

[14] See e.g. Partnership 2000 (2000), p. 6 / The Right to a Better Life (2012), p. 36.

[15] See e.g. Partnership 2000 (2000), p. 22 / Freedom from Poverty – Freedom to Change (2010), p. 11 / The Right to a Better Life (2012), p. 33.

[16] Specifically, Denmark aims to engage in the arc of crisis and insecurity around Europe, which in particular impacts Danish security, and in selected protracted and often forgotten humanitarian crises. Prioritised engagements comprise i.a. the Middle East and North Africa, Afghanistan, the Sahel region and the Horn of Africa. See: The World 2030 (2017), p. 18. See e.g. Partnership 2000 (2000), p. 22 / Freedom from Poverty – Freedom to Change (2010), p. 11 / The Right to a Better Life (2012), p. 33.

[17] See e.g. Partnership 2000 (2000), p. 18 / Freedom from Poverty – Freedom to Change (2010), p. 11.

[18] Freedom from Poverty – Freedom to Change (2010), p. 12.

[19] See e.g. Partnership 2000 (2000), p. 44 / Freedom from Poverty – Freedom to Change (2010), p. 25 / The Right to a Better Life (2012), p. 29.

[20] Freedom from Poverty – Freedom to Change (2010), p. 25.

[21] Peace and Stabilization – Denmark’s policy towards fragile states (2010).

[22] Peace and Stabilisation – Denmark’s policy towards fragile states (2010), p. 13.

[23] Partnership 2000 (2000), p. 45.

[24] See Partnership 2000 (2000), p. 45 / Freedom from Poverty – Freedom to Change (2010), p. 27 / Peace and Stabilisation – Denmark’s policy towards fragile states (2010), p. 5 / The Right to a Better Life (2012), p. 28 / The World 2030 (2017), p. 18.

[25] See Partnership 2000 (2000), pp. 44-45 / Freedom from Poverty – Freedom to Change (2010), p. 25 / The Right to a Better Life (2012), p. 28 / The World 2030 (2017), p. 18.

[26] Partnership 2000 (2000), p. 46. See also Freedom from Poverty – Freedom to Change (2010), p. 25 / Peace and Stabilisation – Denmark’s policy towards fragile states (2010), pp. 18-19 / The Right to a Better Life (2012), p. 30 / The World 2030 (2017), p. 21.

[27] Freedom from Poverty – Freedom to Change (2010), pp. 25-26 / The World 2030 (2017), p. 21.

[28] The annual priority documents for Danish development cooperation (2005-2017) also do not contain specific references to the APP, with the exception of the priority document published in 2007 (A World for All), which states that “from 2009, the Africa Programme for Peace is expected to be replaced by a new programme which focuses on broader regional integration in Africa. The new programme will be formulated and implemented in collaboration with the African Union and regional organisations.” (p. 17).

[29] Peace and Stabilisation – Denmark’s policy towards fragile states (2010), pp. 18-19.

[30] Peace and Stabilisation – Denmark’s policy towards fragile states (2010), p. 19.

[31] Freedom from Poverty – Freedom to Change (2010), p. 25 / Peace and Stabilisation – Denmark’s policy towards fragile states (2010), p. 9 / The Right to a Better Life (2012), p. 30.

[32] The World 2030 (2017), p. 6.

[33] The World 2030 (2017), p. 21 / Freedom from Poverty – Freedom to Change (2010), p. 25 / Peace and Stabilisation – Denmark’s policy towards fragile states (2010), pp. 5-8 / The Right to a Better Life (2012), p. 27.

[34] The World 2030 (2017), p. 21.

[35] The policy framework refers specifically to the Danish Neighbourhood Programme and the Danish-Arab Partnership Programme, as well as to the Peace and Stability Fund (p. 9).

[36] Somalia Country Programme, New Deal Compact Support – Country Programme Document 2015-2018, p. 7.

[37] The evaluation team had access to the country strategy documents for South Sudan (2016-2018), Burkina Faso (2016-2020), Mali (2017-2022), and Niger (2017-2022).

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This page forms part of the publication "Evaluation of the Africa Programme for Peace 2004-2017 – November 2018" as chapter 2 of 12.
Version no. 1.0, 2018-12-13
Publication may be found at the address http://www.netpublikationer.dk/um/evaluation_africa_programme_for_peace_2004-2017/index.html