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Welcome to the 2019 New Zealand Political Studies Association Annual Conference

"Security, Community, Humanity"

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Friday, November 29 • 3:30pm - 5:00pm
After March 15: Political responses to the Christchurch attack

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Kieran Ford
Agonistic Opportunities: Alternative approaches to countering the far-right extremism in Aotearoa/New Zealand

This paper asks: how should Aotearoa/New Zealand respond to the evident challenge of far-right extremism? Within the paper, I examine the case of the Christchurch mosque attacks, and the wider problems of white supremacy and racism within New Zealand society. My research draws from Critical Terrorism Studies, nearly two decades of scholarship critical of counter-terrorism and counter-extremism strategies around the globe. In this paper, I argue that these critiques often centre around the problem of exclusion. Counter-extremism is predicated on the need to eradicate the problem from society through the removal either of extreme individuals or extreme ideologies. Through deploying the political theory of Chantal Mouffe, I argue that a strategy predicated on exclusion is doomed to failure, and moreover actively produces the extremism it seeks to eradicate through its act of excluding. Instead, I offer an alternative framework of inclusion located within Mouffe’s work on agonism. Suggestions for how an agonistic strategy might look in practice are offered. In so doing, I argue that Aotearoa/New Zealand has a prime opportunity to propose a radical alternative to dominant global responses to terror, one that has the engendering of a peaceful society at its heart.

David Hall
The Christchurch Principles: A Democratic Framework for Reducing Harmful Online Content

The Christchurch mosque attacks on 15 March 2019 crystallised growing concerns about the role of digital technologies in driving, enabling and empowering violent extremism. The Christchurch Principles address these concerns by proposing a set of regulative principles to articulate and mitigate the threats to human rights and democratic institutions posed by harmful online content. Taking the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) as a starting point, the Christchurch Principles articulate the various responsibilities of states, business and civil society actors to protect and respect human rights and democratic institutions, and to remedy their degradation. By extending the UNGPs’ framework of Protect-Respect-Remedy beyond human rights to include democratic institutions, the Christchurch Principles offers a democratic model that recognises that it isn’t sufficient to merely protect canonical rights, but also to support democratic norms, sentiments and practices that create the most favourable conditions for human rights to flourish. These Principles were co-designed by the Helen Clark Foundation, The Policy Observatory, The Workshop, and other stakeholders to present to the Paris Peace Forum on 11-13th November 2019.

Kate Nicholls
After Christchurch: The Royal Commission of Inquiry and New Zealand’s Policy-Making Tradition

Three weeks after the Christchurch mosque attacks of March 15th 2019, the government announced the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate any possible failures of state agencies that might have contributed to this event. Due to report back on December 10th 2019, aside from gun control reform this has constituted the main government response in the months following the attack. This paper analyses, evaluates, and critiques the design of the Royal Commission by reflecting on New Zealand’s policy-making tradition and some of its consequences. Mature democracies vary in the ways in which their policy-making traditions make use of specific institutional tools to engage in public consultation and utilize both elite and street-level expertise. New Zealand leans toward the use of expert-driven, one-off, secretive, highly legalistic structures controlled by the executive branch of government, but shies away from more inclusive, iterative, and more open alternatives. The paper looks at some of the consequences and limitations of this tradition, and questions whether an alternative or parallel citizens assembly-type structure might have led to better decision-making in terms of both specific policy output as well as better democratic health and enhanced social inclusion.

Bhakti Eko Nugroho
Preventing another Christchurch Incident from Recurring: A Proposal from Peacemaking Criminology

Stemming from the critical criminology tradition, peacemaking criminology does not see crimes as simply being caused by pathological individuals. The root of crimes lies more in the perpetrators’ personal suffering, which is shaped by a complex external environment. From the perspective of peacemaking criminology, looking into the difficulties that Brenton Tarrant went through in life is of great importance in understanding why he committed harm to others in the Christchurch Incident. While Tarrant’s incarceration for life may relieve society’s anger towards his brutality, peacemaking criminology believes that such a measure cannot address Tarrant’s personal suffering, which is the root of his crime. As Tarrant was motivated by previous racist terrors, his violent attack on Muslims may also inspire others who sympathize with his cause. This is to say that making Tarrant suffer to pay for his crime, as the public in general has demanded, can only make the situation worse by provoking other violent attacks. Against such a backdrop, this article seeks to discuss how society should appropriately react to incidents such as the Christchurch Incident in order to prevent similar attacks from occurring in the future. This article argues that the perpetrators’ incarceration cannot effectively create peace following violent terrorist attacks if society continues to label them as pathologically based. Peace cannot be established if there is no restorative mechanism that includes a deradicalization plan as well as close engagement with the victims and their families.

avatar for Rachel Billington

Rachel Billington

Master of Politics student, University of Otago


Kieran Ford

Kieran Ford

David Hall

AUT University

Kate Nicholls

Auckland University of Technology

Bhakti Eko Nugroho

Universitas Indonesia

Friday November 29, 2019 3:30pm - 5:00pm NZDT
E16 Engineering Core