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Twelve Years of Poverty in Denmark - A Human Rights Perspective

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The article concerns the situation of refugees and immigrants from countries outside the European Union /European Economic Area with regard to social cash benefits in Denmark. At present these immigrants are treated different than inhabitants of Danish origin since their social cash benefits are reduced to a considerable extent. The conditions of these immigrants are discussed from an international human rights perspective and the article applies two approaches: a poverty threshold approach and a non-discrimination approach. The author concludes that the reduced social cash benefits are in violation of Denmark’s human rights obligation under socio-economic as well as civil-political treaties. In this way the article confirms that human rights are indivisible, interrelated and interdependent. The circumstances in Denmark during the last 12-14 years with regard to immigrants’ rights to social cash benefits has made it natural and even necessary to consider the situation from a legal as well as a political perspective. Thus it seems that the problems in Denmark for immigrants with regard to social cash benefits will be solved by politicians in Parliament in a foreseeable future whereas the human rights machinery because of its sluggishness has only to a limited extent been able to demonstrate its effectiveness.

Affiliations: 1: Guest Professor in International Human Rights Law, Faculty of Law, Lund University, Sweden, URL:


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