Refugee Policy As ‘Negative Nation Branding’: The Case of Denmark and the Nordic
Revised version published in Danish Foreign Policy Yearbook, 2017
21 Pages Posted: 27 Sep 2021
Date Written: January 10, 2017
Once a liberal frontrunner, Denmark today maintains a self-declared hard-line approach to refugees. In contrast to other deterrence measures blocking access to asylum per se, the bulk of Denmark’s restrictions on asylum-seeking aim to make asylum and protection conditions in Denmark as unattractive as possible, thereby indirectly pushing asylum-seekers towards other countries. This article conceptualizes such indirect deterrence policies in Europe as a form of “negative nation branding”. In order to achieve the deterrent effect of these policies, states are, on the one hand, prompted to advertise new restrictions actively both in public discourse and through targeted campaigns towards migrants and refugees. On the other hand, this kind of branding is likely to prompt critical responses among wider audiences both internationally and domestically. Contrary to the majority of existing scholarship, the Danish case suggests that, at least under some circumstances, indirect deterrence may be an effective strategy in reducing the numbers of asylum-seekers arriving in a country. At the same time, however, indirect deterrence is likely to create a number of negative externalities, and the beggar-thy-neighbour dynamics upon which these policies are premised make individual countries vulnerable to similar policy developments in neighbouring states, thus reducing, or even reversing, the deterrent effect over time.
Keywords: Human rights, immigration policy, law, migration, refugees, asylum
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