Autonomous Weapons Systems Working Group

In 2022 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade sought expressions of interest for non-government representatives from industry, civil society, academia and Māori to join an informal Working Group.

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Recognising the complexity of autonomous weapons systems, and their intersection with legal, ethical, technical and political issues, the Working Group is being established to leverage diverse and multi-disciplinary expertise to inform the further elaboration of the Government’s position on such systems. The Working Group will enable government officials to regularly hear from and speak to experts within and outside government, test assumptions and views, and discuss specific issues related to autonomous weapons systems.

How many times will the Working Group meet?

The Working Group will meet for four one-day sessions a year, with the possibility of inter-sessional work taking place on particular issues. In light of ongoing COVID constraints, and recognising scheduling challenges, the meetings are expected to take place virtually.

The Working Group will have an initial mandate for twelve months.

Composition of the group

The group will comprise officials from a range of agencies including MFAT, the Ministry of Defence, the New Zealand Defence Force and New Zealand Police, alongside up to eight non-government representatives drawn from industry, academia, civil society, and Māori.  

The non-government representatives will be selected from among those that have expressed an interest in joining, with appointments to the Working Group being made by MFAT. Diversity of expertise, experience, gender and ethnicity will be taken into account when appointments are made.  Non-government representatives will be eligible for a modest daily rate payment for their engagement in Working Group meetings.

MFAT will provide the Chair for the Working Group, and will coordinate and service its meetings.

Where can I get more information?

More information is available in Autonomous Weapons Systems: New Zealand Policy Position and Approach for International Engagement (download below), agreed by Cabinet in November 2021.

If you have any specific questions about the Working Group, please email


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