Associate Fellow, International Security
John Borrie
Contact information
+41 22 917 34 28 (based in Switzerland)


In addition to John Borrie’s role as an associate fellow at Chatham House, he is chief of research at the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) based in Geneva, Switzerland. Since joining UNIDIR in 2004 John has managed and led research projects on a range of topics related to international security, particularly on arms control, humanitarian law and disarmament, and he has published widely. His current work focuses on issues related to nuclear weapons, the autonomous weapons, drones, and the use of explosive weapons use in populated areas. He is also a member of a United Nations expert group on the weaponization of increasingly autonomous technologies. Prior to joining UNIDIR, John worked in the arms unit of the International Committee of the Red Cross, and before that was deputy for disarmament at the New Zealand Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva from 1999 to 2002. He received his DPhil from University of Bradford, and a BA (Hons) from the University of Canterbury, in New Zealand.


  • Nuclear weapons and disarmament
  • Enhancing civilian protection from explosive weapons use in populated areas
  • The autonomization of weapon technologies
  • Humanitarian disarmament
  • Cluster munitions and landmines


2015 -Chief of Research, UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR)
2013-15Senior Researcher and Policy Adviser, UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR)
2004-11Senior Researcher and Project Manager, UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR)
2003-04Policy Adviser, Arms Unit, International Committee of the Red Cross
1999-2002Deputy for Disarmament, New Zealand Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva
1996-99Policy Adviser, International Security and Arms Control Division, New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade


Broadcast experience



  • English (broadcast standard)


  • NPT Success and the Humanitarian Initiative (International Law and Policy Institute (ILPI)-UNIDIR NPT paper no. 5), with Tim Caughley and Nick Ritchie, Geneva and Oslo: IPI-UNIDIR, 2015
  • A Limit to Safety: Risk, ‘Normal Accidents’, and Nuclear Weapons (ILPI-UNIDIR Vienna paper no. 3) Geneva and Oslo: IPI-UNIDIR, 2014
  • 'Viewing weapons through a humanitarian lens: From cluster munitions to nukes?' with Tim Caughley, Irish Studies in International Affairs, Vol. 25, (September) 2014, pp. 23-43
  • 'Improving UN Planning for a Humanitarian Response to a Nuclear Detonation', Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 70 No. 5, (13 August 2014), pp. 74-85.
  • An Illusion of Safety: Challenges of Nuclear Weapon Detonations for United Nations Humanitarian Coordination and Response with T. Caughley, Geneva, 2014 (forthcoming).
  • ‘Humanitarian Reframing of Nuclear Weapons and the Logic of a Ban’ in International Affairs 90 (3) 2014.
  • Viewing Nuclear Weapons Through a Humanitarian Lens edited with T. Caughley, Geneva, 2013.
  • 'How are Humanitarian Approaches Relevant to Achieving Progress on Nuclear Disarmament?' with T. Caughley in Decline or Transform: Nuclear Disarmament and Security Beyond the NPT Review Process, R. Johnson, Editor. London, 2012.
  • Enhancing Civilian Protection from Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas: Building a Policy and Research Agenda with M Brehm, in International Review of the Red Cross, 2012
  • Cluster's Last Stand: Cluster Munitions Remain a Threat to Civilians in Jane's Intelligence Review 23(1), 2011
  • Unacceptable Harm: A History of How the Treaty to Ban Cluster Munitions Was Won, Geneva, 2009