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We're a signatory to international treaties and conventions that work to limit the production, proliferation and use of inhumane conventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction.
The elimination of nuclear weapons is a particular focus and New Zealand has a long-standing reputation for taking a firm, principled line on this. New Zealand is also concerned about stockpiles of chemical weapons, the potential of biological weapons, and the use of many conventional weapons, including cluster munitions, landmines and small arms. While a range of international treaties indicate a strong will to work toward disarmament, reducing global weapon stockpiles can be a frustratingly a slow process.
MFAT’s International Security and Disarmament Division advises the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control on arms control and disarmament policy. The division implements and advocates for disarmament policy through our posts, especially in Geneva, Vienna, The Hague, New York, and Paris, as well as at home. It also ensures our obligations under international treaties and arms control regimes are met.
MFAT coordinates the Public Advisory Committee on Disarmament and Arms Control (PACDAC), which advises the government on disarmament issues.
Our disarmament work
New Zealand’s disarmament work is guided by international treaties in two areas:
Weapons of mass destruction – Nuclear weapons, chemical weapons and biological weapons
Conventional weapons – Land mines, cluster munitions, arms trade, small arms and light weapons, and inhumane weapons
We're also party to several international agreements on the import and export of strategic goods (weapons and materials that can be used to manufacture weapons). In line with these agreements, New Zealand has laws around the trade of strategic goods.
New Zealand Disarmament Strategy (2023)
Aotearoa New Zealand has long been active on disarmament and non-proliferation issues in our pursuit of a safer and more secure world, free from nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, where international law is respected and civilians in conflict zones are protected from harm.
In light of the challenging global security environment and the volume of urgent competing priorities including climate change and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have developed a strategy to be even more deliberate about where we put our effort.
This strategy [PDF, 603 KB] draws on our existing reputation, experience and relationships to continue pursuing long-standing objectives. It identifies our priority objectives for 2022-23, the context in which we are pursuing them, and the means through which we aim to achieve them.
The strategy aligns with the goals set out in Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Strategic Framework to strengthen, protect and use international rules and institutions, and to advance and protect New Zealanders’ safety and security. It reflects our humanitarian approach to disarmament and our steadfast view that forward movement on disarmament is not conditional on an improved international situation but can contribute to its achievement.
As the strategy makes clear, New Zealand is most effective when we work closely with our bilateral friends and partners, international organisations, academics and civil society at home and offshore. Join the kōrero — follow us on Twitter | @DisarmamentNZ(external link) and share your views on these important issues.
We are committed to engagement with the New Zealand public on the disarmament strategy – for example, see below the results of a public survey we commissioned of New Zealanders’ opinions on autonomous weapons.