Finding the Balance: Is the New Zealand Parliament Able to Effectively Balance Its International Obligations with the Rights of Citizens? An Evolution of the Legislative Process

By Kirsten Jane Mander.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Civic and Political Studies

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One of the great challenges of a parliamentary democracy, such as New Zealand, is balancing the often conflicting requirements of protecting the rights of individual citizens whilst honouring international responsibilities that come with being signatories to international treaties. New Zealand’s parliamentary processes, in this respect, have been severely tested since the war on terror was initiated following the terrorist attacks in America on September 11, 2001. Under various international conventions released post-September 11, New Zealand has had to enact a number of laws that have been potentially in tension with the New Zealand Bill of Rights. One of the most illustrative examples is the Counter-Terrorism Bill 2002. This paper looks at how effectively the New Zealand Parliament discharged its role during the process it followed to enact the Counter-Terrorism Bill 2002. It will complete this investigation in order to see whether Parliament was able to find that critical point of balance between upholding New Zealand’s international commitments whilst avoiding infringing upon individuals’ rights. This paper will conclude that, in the case of the Counter-Terrorism Bill 2002, the role of Parliament in the legislative process under Mixed Member Proportional Representation was effective in balancing both these international and national imperatives.

Keywords: Parliamentary Procedure, Terrorism, Legislative Process, Democracy, International Responsibility, Human Rights

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Civic and Political Studies, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp.13-29. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 651.278KB).

Kirsten Jane Mander

Graduate Student, School of History, Philosophy, Political Science, and International Relations, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand

Miss Mander is a 25 year old graduate student from New Zealand with a background in International Relations, Economics and European Languages. Finding the Balance was completed during her Honours year at Victoria University in 2011, where she was the first New Zealand Parliamentary and Business Trust Scholarship winner. Kirsten went on to receive a national scholarship that offered her a place at the European Parliament in Belgium, which she took up in 2012. Alongside her role with a Finnish Member of the European Parliament, Kirsten spent her spare time travelling Spain conducting case study research for her Masters in European Union Studies. Upon the completion of her thesis early 2013, Kirsten's focus on international security has taken a turn towards the energy industry. She currently holds a Communications Associate role in a Policy, Government and Public Affairs team in Perth, the hub of the global oil and gas industry.