APEC 2020: Microsoft President Brad Smith hails New Zealand as ‘beacon of hope’ in conversation with Ardern

Hosting the summit from Microsoft’s headquarters in Seattle, Washington, Smith praised Ardern for her leadership in dealing with the Christchurch terror attack and the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as her climate change advocacy. 

“It may seem like a decade ago, but it was only a year and a half ago that you had to address – as the world watched and supported – the terrible aftermath of the terrorist attack and the tragedy in Christchurch.”

Smith said what was “so striking” was how Ardern used the tragedy on March 15, 2019, to bring the world together and take action. 

He praised Ardern’s partnership with French President Emmanuel Macron to spearhead the Christchurch Call, a voluntary commitment from governments and online providers intended to thwart terrorist and violent extremist content online, after the terrorist streamed the atrocity online. 

Facebook, Google, Twitter and YouTube, as well as Australia, Canada, the UK, Italy, Ireland, Germany, Norway and Sweden are among the more than 60 signatories so far. 

Ardern said the silver lining to the tragedy was that it encouraged governments and tech sector leaders to take collective action – turning the terrorist’s advantage of global connectedness against him.  

“We needed to take that same borderless approach and collaborative approach to address the problem itself,” Ardern said. “That’s why for us, regulation was never going to solve our problems. We needed to be able to mobilise very, very quickly in a dynamic way and not as Government but as NGOs and as tech companies, for a common solution.”

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