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Denmark’s Engagement in Afghanistan 2008-2012

The overall objective of Denmark’s engagement in Afghanistan is to contribute to national, regional and global security by preventing the country from again becoming a safe haven for terrorists.

Denmark’s engagement also aims at contributing to the growth of a stable and more developed Afghanistan that can take charge of its own security, continue its democratic development and promote respect for human rights.

The Danish efforts in Afghanistan are consistent with a pro-active Danish foreign policy by contributing to the international efforts that arise from UN Security Council resolutions. The efforts are also consistent with Denmark’s development policy objectives, including poverty reduction.

The situation in Afghanistan is expected to remain unstable in the years ahead, and thus the situation in Afghanistan continues to constitute a potential threat to international peace and security. Afghanistan is one of the world’s poorest countries, and stable development requires delivery of tangible improvements for the population.

In the period 2008-12, Denmark will enhance its efforts in Afghanistan, and the goal is gradually to shift the balance in the direction of a more extensive civilian effort and a more withdrawn military role. In the first part of the period, this will entail a temporary increase in the number of deployed forces, whose tasks will include performing specific functions in connection with ISAF-led operations. During the period 2008-12, the overall objective of the military efforts is for Denmark to contribute to establishing conditions for extending the authority of the Afghan Government in the Helmand Province. The goal is to enable the Afghan security forces to implement operations independently at brigade level and to enforce the Afghan Government’s authority in the most important parts of the province and here support the exercise of civilian Afghan authority. The Danish military engagement will be reduced in step with the achievement of these objectives.

Building capacity in Afghanistan is a central component of the international and Danish military efforts. In parallel with a solid military engagement in southern Afghanistan, Denmark will contribute to building up the Afghan security forces. The goal is that Denmark assumes a more withdrawn military role in the strategy period, during which the Danish efforts will increasingly focus on training and education. At the same time, the police training efforts will be stepped up.

Denmark’s overall engagement in the strategy period will amount up to DKK 1 billion per year. Within the development field, the enhanced efforts will entail a doubling of assistance to Afghanistan in the strategy period. In 2008, therefore, the assistance will increase to DKK 300 million, and in the period 2009-2012 it will increase to DKK 400 million annually. In addition, support will be channelled through Danish NGOs and extraordinary humanitarian contributions if the situation requires it. Also within the provision of development assistance, capacity building will be included as an element at all levels of public administration and in civil society in order to ensure Afghan ownership of development.

Photo: Two girls in Afghanistan Photo: Franz-Michael Skjold Mellbin

Two girls in Afghanistan Photo: Franz-Michael Skjold Mellbin

Afghanistan is a mosaic of progress and continued challenges. Democratic institutions have been established, free elections have been held and a new constitution has been drawn up. Furthermore, a number of social indicators show substantial progress. However, Afghanistan continues to be a society emerging from conflict. The country’s social structure and social cohesion are far from established. There is still an armed insurgency against the Afghan Government, although it is possible to implement development activities in large parts of the country. Despite the elections, the Government’s legitimacy is limited in the eyes of the population, because it is unable to deliver the necessary security and because poor governance and lack of ability to deliver basic services undermine the population’s support and trust in the Government. Denmark will continue to push for progress in democracy, progress in human rights as well as the implementation of concrete measures that can repress corruption in accordance with the commitments that the Afghan Government has undertaken in the Afghanistan Compact.

The precondition for success in Afghanistan is a coherent political, military and civilian engagement. This is also the point of departure the international community’s efforts that are carried out in Afghanistan in accordance with UN resolutions, the Afghanistan Compact, NATO strategies and the Afghan Government’s development strategies. The Danish efforts are a contribution to the achievement of the goals and objectives contained therein.

In the strategy period, Denmark will through an integrated political, military and development engagement contribute to counter-insurgency aimed at improving the security situation as a precondition for stability, economic development, poverty reduction, and for ensuring respect for the individual. The efforts aim at contributing to building a society that is based on democratic principles and human rights and that moves away from discrimination and violations dictated by fundamentalist, traditional and religious rules of behaviour.

Denmark has chosen to focus its efforts on security, capacity building of Afghan security forces, state building, education and improvement of living conditions. Conditions and rights of women, counter-narcotics and good governance will be included as cross-cutting considerations. Geographically, Denmark will focus part of its efforts in the southern Helmand Province, where the Taliban and other insurgents continue to operate and where the security situation, despite progress, continues to provide a breeding ground for radicalisation and prevents a confrontation with the narcotics industry.

Reports will be submitted annually on the progress of the strategy. If the situation changes significantly, an adjustment of the strategy will be necessary.


On the basis of an integrated political, military and civilian engagement, Denmark will contribute to security and reconstruction through support to activities aimed at:

  • Extending the Afghan Government’s authority to the entire country and, as a precondition for this, neutralising the Taliban and other militant groups by political, military and civilian means
  • Building the capacity of Afghan security forces
  • State building, democracy, promote respect for human rights, and good governance
  • Spreading out education and schooling, so that in the long term all children in Afghanistan gain access to education.
  • Improving living conditions through support to development of legal economic growth and employment for men and women.

Through its engagement, Denmark will thus contribute to achieving the goals for Afghanistan’s future as set out in the Afghanistan Compact:

  • That the partnership between the international community and Afghanistan improves the living conditions of the Afghan people and contributes to national, regional and global peace and security.
  • That Afghanistan and the international community jointly commit themselves to working for a stable and developed Afghanistan based on good governance, respect for human rights and rule of law.

This page forms part of the publication 'DENMARK’S ENGAGEMENT IN AFGHANISTAN 2008-2012' as chapter 1 of 9
Version 1.0. 06-10-2008
Publication may be found at the address


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