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Forming New Zealand’s policy approach to autonomous weapons systems

This is a Tech Alliance event

  • Free for members of AI Forum
  • $25 for non-members

Forming New Zealand’s Policy Approach to Autonomous Weapon Systems

Please join Minister Twyford and officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and share your views on policy and regulation of autonomous weapons systems (AWS).

The prospect of autonomous weapons systems that can identify, select and attack their own targets raises profound legal and ethical questions that demand urgent answers.  Minister Twyford has accelerated the pace of policy development in New Zealand with a view to a more active role internationally in prohibiting and placing controls on AWS. However, there needs to be careful consideration of how any regulatory efforts could unintentionally harm innovation or industry, especially in the emerging technology space.

This is a valuable opportunity to engage directly with MFAT as officials develop a national policy as part of New Zealand’s Disarmament Strategy.   Please join the discussion, so policymakers can develop a clear understanding of the AI community’s perspectives and how regulation may affect your business.  For example,

  • Could the technology you are developing be affected by regulation?
  • What weapons systems or technology should be included in the scope of the strategy and what shouldn’t?
  • What degree of human control do we consider is required, to be ethically acceptable? 
  • How do we ensure technology developed in New Zealand can’t be used elsewhere for harm?
  • What broader issues need to be considered? 
  • How do we protect innovation in policy development?
  • What are the key priorities for industry that must be considered in New Zealand’s policy development? 


Hon Phil Twyford, Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control

Hon Phil Twyford was born and raised in Auckland. He is the Labour Member of Parliament for Te Atatū, where he lives. Phil’s vision is for New Zealand to deliver hope and opportunity to all people. After studying politics at Auckland University, Phil worked as a journalist and union organiser before becoming the founding Executive Director of Oxfam New Zealand. Phil’s strong belief in justice led to him becoming Oxfam’s Global Advocacy Director, based in Washington DC. Upon returning to New Zealand, Phil was elected to Parliament for the Labour Party in 2008. In Opposition, he held the portfolios of Housing, Transport, Auckland Issues, and Disarmament and Arms Control. Phil is currently the Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control, Minister of State for Trade and Export Growth, Associate Minister for the Environment and Associate Minister of Immigration.

Katy Donnelly, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Katy Donnelly is Unit Manager of the Disarmament Unit in the International Security and Disarmament Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. She has previously managed the International Security Policy Unit within the same Division. Katy was posted as First Secretary Disarmament to Geneva between 2015-2018 and as Deputy Head of Mission in Vienna between 2009-2011. She has also served in a range of divisions within MFAT, including Europe Division, South/South East Asia Division and the United Nations, Human Rights and Commonwealth Division. Katy is leading the Ministry’s work on autonomous weapons systems.

Event details:

  • Date: Monday 21 June
  • Time: 5.00-7.30pm
  • Venue: ANZ Centre, 23 Albert Street, Auckland 1010.
  • Cost: Free ($25 non members)


Special thanks to ANZ for hosting this event.




Jun 21
5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Free – $25
Event Category:


ANZ Centre
23 Albert Street
Auckland, 1010 New Zealand
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