New Zealand’s Counter-terrorism Strategy: A Critical Assessment

Authors: Battersby, J., Ball, R., & Nelson, N.
Published in National Security Journal, 23 June 2020

they are comprehensive and coherent documents that meet the criteria identified above. The 2015 Australian Counter-Terrorism Strategy, proceeded two national counter-terrorism White Papers released in 2004 and 2010.10 The current 2015 strategy Strengthening Our Resilience, a 31-page document, outlines the framework for Australian counter-terrorism arrangements, but importantly “situates the current terrorism threat for Australia within both the domestic and global contexts” and “articulates how we are countering it.”11 The document, offers the flexibility to adapt to these two changing environments – which has been a hallmark of its approach to terrorism throughout its history, and particularly since 11 September 2001. It is designed to complement the country’s National Counter-Terrorism Plan that outlines governance and jurisdictional arrangements, as well as operational responsibilities for “preventing, preparing, responding to and recovering from domestic terrorist attacks.”12 The Australian document, like the British strategy, emphasises that prevention is the “first line of defence against terrorism.”13 Australia’s strategy is endorsed with the signature of the Prime Minister of the day, Tony Abbott.

The United Kingdom’s Counter Terrorism Strategy 2018 (CONTEST)14 is a comprehensive and detailed-100 page document clearly building on lessons from previous counter-terrorism approaches.15 CONTEST is the product of a review of the UK’s previous strategy which was first developed as a classified document in 2002 and publicly released four years later.16CONTEST sets out to “respond systematically and proportionately” to terrorism and it outlines in some detail a four-stage approach, its global and local context, implementation, resourcing, roles and responsibilities. It is endorsed with the signature of then British Prime Minister, Teresa May and Home Secretary, Sajid Javid.

The first Canadian counter-terrorism strategy was published in 2012.17 Canada’s current 50-page counter-terrorism strategy is a full and detailed document covering various terrorist threats based on international and domestic, internal and external experience. Goals are set and measurable outcomes stated for each aspect of implementation. The plan for countering terrorism is outlined. The strategy explicitly deals with roles and responsibilities, legal frameworks and implementation. It is endorsed by Vic Toews, the Minister of Public Safety.18

The United States 2018 National Strategy for Counterterrorism is a shorter, but nonetheless decisive 34-page document that clearly articulates the ‘how’ and offers a “more agile and expansive approach that addresses the full spectrum of terrorist threats… including enemies overseas and the people they seek to influence and mobilize violence in the United States.”19 The current US strategy, like the British iteration provides a list of end-state measurables or performance indicators, admittedly broad, but which define the success of the strategy.20 The document is endorsed by the current US President Donald Trump.