International Journal of Law in Context


The uneasy relationship between national security and personal freedom: New Zealand and the ‘War on Terror’

David Smalla1

a1 University of Canterbury, New Zealand


As part of the ‘War on Terror’ declared in response to the 11 September 2001 attacks, countries introduced legislation to bolster national security, often at the expense of personal freedoms and long-established legal principles. Like the Cold War, the ‘War on Terror’ is cast as a global struggle of good against evil. New Zealand defied Cold War logic with its anti-nuclear policy. Examining the difficulties of upholding personal freedoms and the rule of law while bolstering national security, this article analyses New Zealand's anti-terrorism legislation and shows that it has steadily moved away from its initial measured approach. It argues that New Zealand could and should develop an anti-terrorism model appropriate to low-risk societies, and that, like its anti-nuclear stance during the Cold War, such an independent approach would be a valuable contribution to the world community.

(Online publication November 11 2011)