The Nordic Africa Institute

Archives in Denmark

The Danish struggle against apartheid and colonialism can be divided into two main periods: the first (1960-1978) concentrating on financial support to victims of apartheid and the second (1978-1992) on financial and political sanctions.

Different actors developed and formed Danish policies in these periods, namely politicians, state officials, non-governmental organisations and other representatives of Danish civil society. A joint action by the Nordic trade unions involving a boycott for two months (April-May) was carried out in 1960. In conjunction with this, Oliver Tambo visited Denmark and spoke for the first time to an all-white audience, consisting of workers at a shipyard. At the UN General Assembly in 1963, foreign minister Per Kaekkerup applauded the arms sanctions against South Africa and established a humanitarian budget allocation called “the Apartheid Appropriation”. It lasted for 30 years and channelled all official Danish support.

There have been several organisations and associations formed during the years. One - Landskomiteen Sydafrika-Aktion (The Country Committee for South Africa Action) - was formed in March 1978 and marked the beginning of a more coordinated apartheid resistance at grass root level. Behind it was the Danish section of World University Service, an international network on education for an equitable world (today Ibis). Landskomiteen consisted of several organisations and political parties.

The Danish support was handled in an advisory committee, popularly known as the Antiapartheid Committee, consisting mainly of non-governmental organisations. The Danish support, unlike the Swedish and Norwegian, was exclusively given through non-governmental organisations. The liberation movements were never supported directly.

In 1986 the Danish parliament passed, as the first country in the world, unilateral trade sanctions against South Africa. They remained in place until the transition had finally been approved by the first free parliamentary elections.