It is a widely-held perception that September 11, and the threat of globalised terrorism it embodies represents the advent of a new era and that the exceptional threat posed by global non-State terrorism justifies far-reaching measures. The threat is that of the unpredictable use of terror-based political violence across national boundaries by a non-State actor, organised outside traditional State structures and whose operatives are limited by few constraints on the targets against which they direct their acts of violence or the methods which they are prepared to use. Proponents of new counter-terrorism measures have argued that existing strategies, laws and resources for dealing with this type of political violence are deficient and need to be supplemented by measures that introduce new solutions, some of which may not be consistent with earlier values or practices – indeed cannot be, if they are to succeed in their goal. The new anti-terrorist measures have been portrayed as legitimate and appropriate responses to exceptional circumstances justifying limitations on accepted standards of human rights and due process.

Our Expert workshop, in line with philosophy of our research project, constitutes an occasion to challenge these assumptions. It is a contribution towards relocating the conceptual boundaries of discussion about anti-terrorism law and policy in Australia, through an analysis of national as well as international developments in the “war on terror” from a comparative and inter-disciplinary perspective.