Human Rights in Denmark
Centuries ago, Denmark was home to Viking raiders, but today, the nation is successful and technologically advanced. The 5.5 million people who live in Demark are governed by a parliamentary constitutional monarchy. The Scandinavian nation is very impressive on many fronts, including economics. In 2016, for instance, Denmark’s unemployment rate was just 4.2 percent. Human rights in Denmark are largely protected, but room for improvement remains.

Denmark is one of the 192 Member States of the United Nations and uses that position to advance its protection of human rights. For example, Denmark has pushed for treaties that support the abolition of torture as well as augmenting the rights of people with disabilities.

Within its own borders, steps are taken to protect human rights as well. Free speech and a free press are two of the many human rights in Denmark protected by the nation’s constitution. According to the U.S. Department of State’s 2010 report, Denmark’s government did not limit either of these practices.

The report also demonstrated that Denmark does not violate the integrity of its people. Prison and detention centers keep with international standards, fair trials are granted and each individual’s privacy is respected.

One area in which Denmark’s reputation regarding human rights is less widely praised is when it comes to the nation’s treatment of refugees. According to The Washington Post, many European nations have experienced an influx of immigrants over the past decade. Some of the actions taken by Denmark’s government include slashing benefits to refugees, allowing police to confiscate refugees’ valuables and taking steps to make it increasingly difficult for refugees to reunite with their families.

As the laws in Denmark have changed, so too have the have peoples’ sentiments. Ideas regarding refugees that in the past would have been considered outlandish have infiltrated more mainstream ideology. Denmark has received much criticism for this. In fact, Human Rights First, “an independent advocacy and action organization that challenges America to live up to its ideals” stated that this is a violation of refugees’ human rights.

The evidence suggests that Denmark is more successful at protecting the human rights of its own people than of others.

Adam Braunstein

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in DenmarkDenmark is one of the smaller countries in Europe and has a very good healthcare system. Some of the common diseases in Denmark are also some of the deadliest. However, with the system and care in place, there has been a decline in many of the major diseases that strike the country.

Denmark possesses one of the better healthcare systems in the world, ranked 34 out of 191 countries, according to the World Health Organization. Denmark provides universal healthcare access to all citizens in the country. The government and those within the system promote the availability and it is financed by a national health tax that is set at 8 percent.

The life expectancy in Denmark is about 85 years for females and about 80 years for males. Both of these numbers have risen over the last few years and slowly improved that has seen a rise along with Denmark’s health system. Both ranks in the higher end of the worldwide life expectancy rankings, yet this is still behind some of the other European nations. The rise is still a testament to the fantastic health services that are available to the people of Denmark.

The majority of common diseases in Denmark are noncommunicable and are mostly heart diseases and different types of cancers. The only major communicable disease in Denmark is a lower respiratory infection.

The various types of cancer are one of the common diseases around the world and also one of the most common diseases in Denmark. Denmark was named the cancer capital of the world. There are lifestyle factors that affect the numbers and inflate the number of cases each year and the country still has one of the highest cancer rates around the world. The high rates can be tied to smoking and other lifestyle habits that are not healthy and can contribute to the onset of the disease. There are scientists that estimate nearly one-third of most of the cancers can be prevented by eliminating these risks.

Heart disease is the leading disease in Denmark. However, in recent years there was a significant fall in its occurrence. In 2014, there was a 70 percent decline in Danes who died from heart disease. There is not another state in the EU that recorded that big a drop off in mortality rates for cardiovascular disease.

The most common diseases in Denmark include some of the most common around the world. It is a great healthcare system that helps the Danes through the diseases and on to a healthier life.

Brendin Axtman

Photo: Flickr

Denmark is the smallest of the Scandinavian countries and, as of 2015, holds a population of just under 5.7 million. Denmark’s the proud owner of some of the best drinking water in Europe and luckily hasn’t faced many challenges accessing clean water over the last few decades. The water quality in Denmark is quite high and matches the high price tag that consumers pay for their water.

Although the country has come a long way, Denmark hasn’t always had such clean drinking water. In the 1960s, polluted water, especially around the capital in Copenhagen, made up the majority the country’s aquatic substances.

Water prices have been historically high in Denmark. The high price of water deters unnecessary consumption, helps conserve water and led to a significant drop in water consumption over the last 20 years. In 1989, the water consumption rested at 170 liters per day on average, while in 2012 that number dropped to 114. This is mirrored and encouraged by the increase in the price of water from two euros to seven euros per cubic meter.

Denmark has a total land area of about 43,000 km. The drinking water purchased by citizens comes entirely from groundwater. The government believes that drinking water should only need minimal treatment to classify as great quality. Some of the treatments that the water goes through are filtration, pH testing and adjustments.

The majority of the water is already of high quality and often needs only a few adjustments. The groundwater in the deeper aquifers is also generally very favorable for the small amount of intervention needed.

The shallow aquifers closer to the surface are the ones that need the most purification and are the most polluted water in the country today. Recently, water suppliers have been forced to go deeper down to find cleaner water.

The water quality in Denmark is vastly superior to many other countries around the world. Consumers are getting what they are paying for with very safe and clean water.

Brendin Axtman

Photo: Flickr

Photo: Flickr

Denmark's Top Diseases
Denmark, officially known as the Kingdom of Denmark, is a Scandinavian country in Europe. It is the southernmost and smallest of the Nordic Countries. About five million people inhabit Denmark. In 2015, Denmark’s life expectancy was at 80.6 percent. It ranked number 27 in world life expectancy. The top diseases in Denmark are primarily cardiovascular diseases.

The Danes suffer mainly from heart problems. In 2015, ischemic heart disease was at 19.2 percent. According to the WHO, cardiovascular disease is the cause of more than half of deaths across the European region. The contributing factor is poor health choices, for example, eating fatty foods and high consumption of alcohol and cigarettes.

However, in 2015, other diseases like cerebrovascular disease and various cancers were also prevalent.

Health problems that cause the most disabilities

In 2015, the health problems that cause the most disabilities were non-communicable diseases. Sense organ diseases, skin diseases, musculoskeletal conditions and diabetes are all significant contributors to disability in Denmark.

What risk factors drive the most death and disability combined?

In 2015, cigarettes, dietary risks and high systolic blood pressure were the leading causes of death. Cigarettes caused the most cardiovascular diseases as well as chronic respiratory diseases. Dietary risk causes mainly cardiovascular diseases and musculoskeletal disorders. High systolic blood pressure caused mainly cardiovascular diseases.

The small country has its own unique health problems. The top diseases in Denmark are primarily cardiovascular in nature. The main cause of these diseases include smoking tobacco and poor diet. On a positive note, deaths caused by cardiovascular disease have decreased by 70 percent since 1985. It is hopeful that through healthier lifestyle choices, the number of cardiovascular-related deaths will continue to drop.

Solansh Moya

Photo: Flickr

The African Renewable Energy Fund (AREF) was created in March 2014. The US and Denmark committed $100 million dollars to the fund, which was created to diversify Africa’s energy portfolio through funding and providing technical support for renewable energy projects.

The fund invests in hydro, wind, geothermal, solar, biomass and waste gas projects that connect to the greater African energy grid or local energy grids. Berkeley Energy manages AREF and has successfully doubled the initial investment, reaching an operational budget of $200 million. This was made possible through multi-lateral partnerships and investments from the African Development Bank (AfDB), African Biofuel and Renewable Energy Company (ABREC), Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappij voor Ontwikkelingslanden N.V. (FMO), the Calvert Foundation and many others.

In the past few years, the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa, (SEFA) has committed one million dollars to Green Mini-Grids in Gambia, one million dollars to a community-owned hydropower project in Kenya and $870,000 to Tanzania’s Renewable Energy Investment Facility. In addition, they funded the first-ever Biomass Gasification Project in Uganda.

Access to energy is arguably the only true equalizing catalyst for development. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), there is a direct correlation between the amount of energy used per capita and the average life expectancy in a country. As energy consumption increases, life expectancy rates increase in turn.

There is currently a race to implement clean energy in Africa among development contractors and development banks. This is in order to raise the quality of life without adding greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Every year, 5.5 million people die prematurely from air pollution-related illnesses. If Africa diversifies its energy portfolio at this early stage of energy infrastructure development by installing renewable energy technologies instead of traditional coal-fired power plants, it could save millions of lives on the continent from pollution-related deaths, and continue to benefit economically from its carbon credit cap and trade practices.

Josh Ward

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Denmark
Poverty in Denmark? Denmark is a country in which “few have too much and fewer too little.” It continues to serve as an admirable example of an effective welfare state. As of late, Denmark’s welfare system is undergoing substantial changes which need to be addressed. Recently, a report by Eurostat showed that Danes who were considered ‘Persons severely materially deprived’ nearly doubled from 2.0 to 3.7 percent from 2008-2015.

Traditionally, the country’s philosophy has been the socialistic idea that the state has the responsibility to ensure the necessary material framework for living a reasonable life for all its population. However, in recent years, the country’s model has fallen short of this goal and poverty in Denmark is on the rise.

In the words of Per Shulz Jørgensen, leader of Denmark’s Alternative Welfare Commission, “the welfare society is not living up to its own principles– inequality has increased, poverty has returned.”

Poverty in Denmark has increased due to unrecognized change within society. It will inevitably continue to rise if current trends remain unchanged and unaddressed.

Why is poverty in Denmark rising with a welfare system that purports to ensure that “all citizens have equal rights to social security”?

Many Danish people insist that solidarity is still the main driving principle behind the country’s welfare system. However, the reality that confronts the country today suggests otherwise. Current welfare policies amount to an essentially brand new type of system, and it operates on different principles than Danish society is ready to admit.

When breaking it down on paper, current welfare policies live up to the principle of providing graciously for the social welfare of all. However, in actual practice, the policies do not amount to a substantive welfare system.

Denmark Poverty Today

The issue is there is a disconnect between national welfare and substantive welfare within Denmark. It creates a fundamentally new type of welfare system. In turn, a separate type of disconnect is formed. Danish people still believe that the system operates in accordance with its founding values of solidarity and universal welfare. All responsibility of providing for the needy ends up landing in the state without its people even realizing.

The ideological transformation and the shortcomings of the current system must first and foremost be recognized to help ameliorate the true underlying problems within the country.

Denmark has a slew of reasons to rightfully claim its place as one of the most progressive and successful nations in the world. Yet it seems that this state of success has produced a sort of “happiest nation complacency” that threatens the country’s elegant and sought after way of living. Denmark must openly acknowledge the newly sprung welfare state in order to decrease the threat of the poor and marginalized part of the population facing neglect.

Keaton McCalla

Photo: Flickr

The world’s only college degree in Eskimology may no longer be available this fall. The University of Copenhagen has suspended Eskimology courses for the 2016 school year due to recent budget cuts.

The classes are set to resume next fall, however, the future looks bleak for Eskimology since more budget cuts are expected in the future. A few other subjects have been cut as well, with many focused on regional studies, such as South East Asian studies.

What exactly is Eskimology? The field covers the history, languages, and culture of arctic peoples. The origins can be traced back to the 18th century and the writings of Hans Egede. The University of Copenhagen began to offer courses in the department in the 1920s. The university’s official Department of Eskimology was founded in 1967.

Although the current Eskimology department is small, it is not going down without a fight. Ecologists argue the field is even growing in importance as global warming and mining concerns (two major issues for the Eskimo/Inuit community) take center stage.

How does the decline in Eskimology education impact its subjects? Because of its colonial ties to Denmark, much of the coursework at the University of Copenhagen focuses on the people of Greenland. Recently, Greenland — which has a majority Eskimo/Inuit population — has been grappling with issues of independence, environmental concerns, and an international battle over their coal and oil reserves.

In the face of chaos, Greenland’s government often sought the advice of Copenhagen’s top Eskimologists. Additionally, the University of Copenhagen was, until this year, the only university in the world (outside of Greenland) to offer Greenlandic language courses.

Maintaining the friendly connection between Greenland’s Eskimo/Inuit population and the University of Copenhagen is also vital during this time as debates rage over the status of Greenland’s independence. Tine Pars from the University of Greenland advised, “We have had a lot of collaboration with Eskimology and Arctic Studies at Copenhagen University over the years… these academic collaborations have been good for research and teaching, and good for both countries.”

The decision to cut Eskimology has been a controversial one, especially since many Danes believe they have a responsibility to protect the Greenlandic culture. One Danish newspaper states, “If Greenland’s economy and business shall develop in the coming years and the massive social problems are addressed, this requires knowledge and reciprocal engagement.” As Greenland faces an uncertain future, many Danish and Greenlandic citizens push for the resurgence of Eskimology.

Carrie Robinson

Photo: Flickr

The Syrian Refugee conflict has been a hot topic globally for months now. Many countries have been accepting Syrian refugees since the climax of the crisis, but once a temporary home has been found, what next?

On average, a refugee will stay in a camp for 17 years. In these crowded and busy communities, individuals and families try to create a semi-normal life.

For smaller children though, living in these refugee camps means growing up without a fair chance to attend school. Therefore, greater focus needs to be placed on education for Syrian refugees.

According to The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, the Syrian refugee crisis could be a large contributor to another global crisis. Poverty rates, already at a high, could be negatively impacted if proper action is not taken.

In a study done by the UNHCR entitled “Living in the Shadows,” the organization stated, “Two in every three Syrian refugee households are below the absolute poverty line in Jordan, and one out of six is below the Jordanian abject poverty line…households’ economic vulnerability appears to increase over time.”

While humanitarian aid is a huge part of alleviating this problem, more needs to be done. Refugee education and training in vocational skills are a necessity to combat the struggle of poverty within and outside of these refugee camps.

According to The Guardian, “Globally, over 50% of refugees are children. Yet only one in every two refugee children attend primary school. Only one in four refugee adolescents receive secondary school education.”

It has been proven several times over that educational opportunities are one of the key solutions to eradicating poverty. With education comes new skills, a more secure future, and a more stable country.

Recently, more countries have started to pick up on this trend and are working to make necessary changes.

In Turkey, the refugee educational opportunities for children has risen from 199,000 in 2014 to 299,000 this school year.

Lebanon, the country with the highest amount of hosted Syrian refugees, is providing education opportunities for 200,000 of those children.

According to the University World News, “The University of Copenhagen has asked the Danish government for permission to create extra student spaces for refugees and migrants arriving in the country.”

For refugees, education is everything. It is the key to getting out of poverty and a source of hope amidst hardship. Continuance of improved and increased educational opportunities is one of the top essentials of getting Syrian refugees out of poverty and helping them contribute to society wherever they currently reside.

Katherine Martin

Sources: UNHCR, The Guardian, Today’s Zaman, Huffington Post, University World News
Photo: Todays Zaman

There are several governments that give a significant portion of their gross national income (GNI) to foreign assistance. It is important to recognize, commend and encourage these countries to keep doing this. Below is a list of five governments that are committed to foreign assistance.

1) Norway
Norway gives 1.07 percent of its GNI to foreign assistance annually. Norway surpasses the UN target of developed countries giving 0.7 percent of its GNI to foreign aid. The Norwegian government promotes private donations by giving tax deductions to its citizens who donate. Norway gives most of its aid to Afghanistan, Tanzania and Palestinian Territories, which are some of the poorest countries in the world. Norway provides free university education to any student irrespective of nationality or permanent residence, including citizens of developing countries.

2) Sweden
Sweden gives 1.02 percent of its GNI to foreign assistance annually. Sweden also gives more than the UN development goals. The Swedish government gives tax deductions to citizens who donate. Similar to Norway, Sweden gives the most foreign assistance to Tanzania, Afghanistan and Mozambique. Sweden also supports democratization processes in Eastern Europe and the Baltic Area.

3) Luxembourg
Luxembourg gives 1.0 percent of its GNI to foreign assistance annually. This is more than the UN development goals as well. Luxembourg gives most of its foreign aid to Mali, Burkina Faso and Senegal, which are some of the poorest countries in the world. Luxembourg gives large sums of money to humanitarian assistance, specifically.

4) Denmark
Denmark gives 0.85 percent of its GNI to foreign assistance annually. Denmark has also surpassed the UN development goals. Denmark gives most of its foreign assistance to Sudan, West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Afghanistan. Denmark was the seventh largest donor to Syria in 2013.

5) Netherlands
The Netherlands gives 0.67 percent of its GNI to foreign assistance annually. This has decreased more recently. The Netherlands used to give more than 0.7 percent of its GNI to foreign assistance. Even so, the Netherlands gives most of its foreign assistance to Sudan, West Bank and Gaza Strip, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. About 81 percent of the Netherlands’ foreign aid goes to countries classified as fragile. This is significantly more than most countries.

In comparison, the United States gives 0.2 percent of its GNI to foreign assistance. Perhaps the United States could take more steps to meet the UN development goal of giving 0.7 percent to foreign assistance. The United States could look to these European countries as models for foreign assistance.

Ella Cady

Sources: Global Humanitarian Assistance 1, Global Humanitarian Assistance 2, The Guardian, LOC 1, LOC 2, OECD
Photo: Paradise on Earth


Since the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) took root in 2012, Europe has experienced a strange phenomenon: European-raised citizens leaving to become Jihad fighters in the Middle East. According to the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR), 3,000 European citizens have joined ISIS since 2012, with Belgium, Denmark, and Sweden producing the highest number of citizens per capita to join the Jihadist cause. In response to this, a variety of methods have sprung up in Europe in order to prevent European citizens from leaving to join ISIS, and to deal with fighters once they have returned home.

In many European countries, such as the United Kingdom and Belgium, suspected ISIS recruits and returned Jihad fighters are treated with scorn and sent to court (in February, 46 suspected jihadists went on trial in Belgium). In stark contrast to these approaches, Denmark has pioneered an approach known as the “Aarhus Model,” which works to reintegrate returned fighters into Danish society using a soft-handed approach which treats returned jihadists “more like rebellious teenagers […] than hostile soldiers beyond redemption.”

The Aarhus Model was pioneered in 2007 after the 7/7 London metro bombings produced alarm in Denmark about the threat of the “home-grown terrorist.” The need for a better approach to dealing with poor, immigrant communities also became evident following the backlash produced by the controversial Muhammad cartoons in 2006, which produced unprecedented tension in Danish society between native Danes and Muslims. The Copenhagen shootings this year on February 14 by a 22-year-old Palestinian-born Danish citizen also solidified concerns about the threat of homegrown terrorism in Denmark, and the need for effective methods to counter this threat.

Indeed, Denmark, a country which provides generous welfare entitlements for all of its citizens and residents (including immigrants), has produced the second highest number of Jihadist fighters in Europe, after Belgium. According to ICSR 2015’s Report, 27 per 1 million Danish citizen have gone to fight in Iraq and Syria, while 40 per 1 million Belgium citizen have also joined ISIS.

Many Danish citizens, according to Preben Bertelsen, a professor of psychology at the University of Aarhus, have expressed confusion over why Denmark has produced such a high percentage of Jihadist fighters, expressing sentiments like “Why do they hate Denmark so much when we have given them so many opportunities?” But, according to Jacob Bundsgaard, the mayor of Aarhus, “it is obviously in part because we have failed […] in making sure that these people are well integrated into Danish society.”

Recognizing that the need to join ISIS stems from feelings of exclusion in Danish society, the Aarhus model aims first and foremost at helping radicalized youth to feel included. This includes making sure that immigrant youths—many of whom live in the poorest neighborhoods in Denmark and may feel socially excluded from their other Danish peers—have a vast network of help that they can depend upon. Individual counseling is provided for people who intend to travel to Syria or Iraq, with mentors (many of whom are returned, deradicalized fighters themselves) assigned to specific cases. Parents of at-risk children are also required to take part in self-help groups, in order to produce a network of elders that can disillusion radical youth with the ISIS dream. For returned fighters, (so long as they are found innocent of any war crimes) individuals are also offered counseling and the chance to become mentors for radicalized Danish citizens intending to leave the country to fight.

According to one young man’s testimony of his experience with the Aarhus model, after he had become increasingly radicalized following a family vacation to Mecca, the police contacted his family and had him brought into the station. Instead of punishing him, however, he exclaimed that the police “offered him a cup of coffee” and told him they would be assigning him a mentor who better understood his frustrations than they did. The young man, whose name was Ahmed, was successfully dissuaded from joining ISIS, and has since graduated from a Danish University and gotten married.

In addition to Aarhus, Copenhagen, other Scandinavian countries, and the Netherlands have since either adopted the Aarhus Model, or have adopted models that are largely based on the Aarhus example. Just days after the Copenhagen shootings on February 20, President Barack Obama also held a conference entitled “The White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism,” in which Bundsgaard, the mayor of Aarhus, was invited to share insight into his city’s innovative approach to fighting terrorism.

While the months since the Copenhagen shootings have produced concern over the supposed success of the model, police commissioner Jørgen Illum, based in Aarhus, has claimed that now, more than ever, it is important to make efforts to include radicalized youths and returned fighters into Danish society. Doing so, according to proponents of the Aarhus Model, is the best way to help prevent immigrant teenagers, who live in the poorest and most marginalized segments of Danish society, from turning to ISIS to give themselves a sense of inclusion, and purpose.

Indeed, by many accounts, the Aarhus Model is not only an innovative approach to tackling jihadism, but a successful one that has produced encouraging downward trends in the number of Danish citizens leaving the country to fight.

While thirty Danish citizens traveled to Syria in 2013, only two have traveled to Syria in the past year, while only one traveled in 2015.

– Ana Powell

Sources: BBC, The Guardian, Newsweek, The Washington Institute
Photo: Newsweek