The global co-ordinator of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots says she was bitterly disappointed by New Zealand's lack of engagement at a recent UN conference on autonomous weapons in Geneva.
Mary Wareham - the arms advocacy director at Human Rights Watch - said the group wanted a pre-emptive ban on the development of weapons able to select targets and use force without any form of human intervention.
Ms Wareham, a former Wellingtonian now based in Washington DC, also co-ordinated the New Zealand campaign against landmines from 2007 to 2012.
She said New Zealand had no policy on autonomous weapons despite a commitment made by Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully in 2013.
She said at the meeting two weeks ago in Geneva, New Zealand, a member of the UN Security Council, said nothing at all.
"it was just odd to see my government sit there and not contribute," she said.
"I'm not used to to seeing that. I'm used to seeing New Zealand being active and engaging and taking leadership roles in treaties to ban landmines, cluster bombs, the arm trades treaty.
"New Zealand is very, very active but on this one, we seem to be sitting out."
A spokesperson for Mr McCully said New Zealand would develop a policy in concert with other governments when the international community was clearer about the weapons.