Political status of the Cook Islands and Niue
The political status of the Cook Islands and Niue is formally defined as being states in free association within the Realm of New Zealand, which is made up of the Cook Islands; Niue; and New Zealand and its territories, Tokelau and the Ross Dependency.
New Zealand is officially responsible for the defence and foreign affairs of the Cook Islands and Niue. However, these responsibilities confer New Zealand no rights of control and can only be exercised at the request of the Cook Islands and Niue. The Cook Islands and Niue have been recognised as sovereign states by some countries, and maintain diplomatic relations under their own name. Moreover, the Secretary General of the United Nations has determined that the admission of the Cook Islands and Niue into the World Health Assembly means that they have been accepted as states by the international community.
However, even though both the Cook Islands and Niue behave as sovereign states in international law, their constitutional statuses within the Realm of New Zealand (i.e., for matters of New Zealand domestic law) is different from that of a fully independent state, considering that all of Niue's and the Cook Islands' nationals are automatically New Zealand citizens, and both have New Zealand's head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, as their own. On the basis of these arrangements, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark declared in 2001 that if the Cook Islands were to join the United Nations, the act would be interpreted by New Zealand as a declaration of independence, leading Cook Islanders to lose the right to New Zealand citizenship. This was reiterated by Prime Minister John Key in 2015. Some scholars have argued that this position by New Zealand places an effective limit on the ability of the Cook Islands to act as a sovereign entity, while others have argued that the participation of the Cook Islands in international organisations (such as the Pacific Islands Forum) shows that Cook Islands sovereignty is not limited by the free association arrangement.
Most countries do not consider the Cook Islands and Niue to be sovereign entities. The United States recognises the Cook Islands as a self-governing territory, and has signed treaties with the Cook Islands government.
Formerly dependencies of New Zealand, the Cook Islands became a state in free association with New Zealand on August 4, 1965; Niue became a state in free association on October 19, 1974, after a constitutional referendum. In 1992, the UN recognised both states' right to establish diplomatic relations with other countries. Since then, both the Cook Islands and Niue have been allowed to attend UN-sponsored conferences open to "all States" as well as sign and ratify UN treaties open to "non-member states".
The Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs records that in 1988 "New Zealand stated that its future participation in international agreements would no longer extend to" Niue and the Cook Islands. The Cook Islands and Niue were granted membership of UNESCO by 1993 and of the World Health Organization by 1994. Also by 1994, the UN Secretariat had "recognized the full treaty-making capacity ... of Niue". As of 2016, the Cook Islands, Niue, and Kosovo are the only states that participate in UN specialised agencies, but which are not member or observer states of the UN itself. Additionally, the Republic of China on Taiwan participates in the World Health Organization as Chinese Taipei.
Positions taken by statesEdit
States that recognise the Cook Islands or Niue as sovereign statesEdit
|State||Cook Islands recognised||Niue recognised|
|1||China||July 25, 1997||December 12, 2007|
|2||Cuba||September 2, 2002||September 5, 2014|
|3||Turkey||October 28, 2008||June 7, 2014|
|4||Japan||March 25, 2011||May 15, 2015|
|5||Kosovo||May 18, 2015||June 23, 2015|
|Recognising the Cook Islands|
|6||Germany||September 11, 2001||Not recognised|
|7||Belgium||August 10, 2004|
|8||Netherlands||August 17, 2011|
|9||South Korea||February 22, 2013|
|10||Micronesia||September 24, 2014|
|11||Brazil||August 21, 2015|
|12||Antigua and Barbuda||November 16, 2017|
|13||Indonesia||July 14, 2019|
|6||Thailand||Not recognised||August 27, 2013|
|7||Italy||September 21, 2015|
States that recognise the Cook Islands and Niue as self-governing territoriesEdit
|France||Though the French Ambassador to New Zealand is also accredited to the Cook Islands and Niue, France still describes them as having "no international sovereignty".|
|Israel||On July 1, 1994, Israel and New Zealand signed an agreement establishing diplomatic relations. The document stated:
|New Zealand||Cook Islands
Clark later said that if the Cook Islands wanted to be its own sovereign state, it would first need its own citizenship. New Zealand believes that if the Cook Islands were to become a sovereign state, an independence referendum and constitutional change would occur. The eligibility of New Zealand citizenship would have to change.
New Zealand has stated that Niue's free association is "a status distinct from that of full independence".
|United States||Cook Islands
In 1980, the Cook Islands–United States Maritime Boundary Treaty was signed. The United States recognised the ability of the Cook Islands to negotiate a treaty on its own only after consulting the New Zealand government regarding the exact status of the Cook Islands. In response to the United States' request the New Zealand government confirmed "the competence of the Cook Islands Government to undertake the obligations and exercise the rights under the draft [bilateral] treaty". Consequently, the United States signed a bilateral treaty with the Cook Islands recognizing the latter's sovereignty over the islands subject to the said treaty and its treaty-making power. The Cook Islands and the United States have maintained consular relations since 1995. As of 2011, the Department of State includes the Cook Islands under the sovereignty of New Zealand in its list of "Dependencies and Areas of Special Sovereignty". As of 2014, The World Factbook lists the Cook Islands as a "self-governing territory in free association with New Zealand".
In 1997, the United States and Niue signed a maritime boundary treaty that mentioned how "Prior to signing the treaty, the political status of Niue was addressed". As of 2011, the Department of State includes Niue under the sovereignty of New Zealand in its list of "Dependencies and Areas of Special Sovereignty". As of 2014, The World Factbook lists Niue as a "self-governing territory in free association with New Zealand".
Cook Islands and Niue as microstatesEdit
While their respective relationships with New Zealand, as well as their small size, make them rather unusual states, it has been argued that their status is far from unique. According to Dumienski (2014) both the Cook Islands and Niue can be seen as microstates, which are defined as: "modern protected states, i.e. sovereign states that have been able to unilaterally depute certain attributes of sovereignty to larger powers in exchange for benign protection of their political and economic viability against their geographic or demographic constraints." Both the Cook Islands and Niue, as well as such states as Liechtenstein, San Marino and Monaco fit into this definition of microstates.
- "United Nations - The World Today - Member states, observers, non-member states, dependencies" (PDF). Un.org. Retrieved 2017-07-30.
- "UN: "data for 197 countries: all 193 member states, two observer states (the Holy See and Palestine) and two non-member states (Cook Islands and Niue)"" (PDF). Un.org. Retrieved 2017-07-30.
- Perrier, Marine Mulcey, translated by Lucie. "A World Tour of the States not recognized by the UN". Retrieved 2015-09-05.
- "United Nations Treaty Collection". Treaties.un.org. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
- Conan, Neal. "Pacific News Minute: Cook Islands Bid for UN Membership On Hold". Hpr2.org. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
- "Home Page - Pacific Islands Report". pidp.eastwestcenter.org. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
- "Redirecting..." heinonline.org. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
- "Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs Supplement No. Volume VI Article 102" (PDF). United Nations. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2013. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
The question of whether the Cook Islands and Niue were 'independent' entities, i.e. – States, with full treaty making capacity was also considered. The Cook Islands and Niue maintained the status of self-governing territories in free association with New Zealand. In view of this special relationship with New Zealand, which discharged the external affairs and defense of the Cook Islands and Niue, neither the Cook Islands nor Niue could invoke the 'all States' clause to participate in treaties deposited with the Secretary-General unless specifically invited to participate in a treaty.Cite uses deprecated parameter
- "Cook Islands". France in New Zealand. March 13, 2014. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
Since 2001, the Cook Islands have complete sovereignty in managing their Foreign affairs according to the common declaration of 6 April 2001.
- "Niue". France in New Zealand. March 13, 2014. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
Niue started its own foreign policies in 2007, when they established official diplomatic relationships with China. New Zealand allows this evolution of autonomy by the island.
- "Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs Supplement No. 8" (PDF). United Nations. p. 10. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-10-19. Retrieved 2015-01-24. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- "Joint Communique Between the People's Republic of China and the Cook Islands on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations". Embassy of the People's Republic of China in New Zealand. October 27, 2003. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
The two Governments have agreed to develop friendly relations and cooperation between the two countries on the basis of the principles of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity...
- "JOINT COMMUNIQUE ON THE ESTABLISHMENT OF DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS BETWEEN NIUE AND THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA". Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the Republic of Lithuania. December 12, 2007. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
The two Governments have agreed to develop friendly cooperation between the two countries on the basis of the principles of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity...
- Ritesh Kumar (October 24, 2008). "Niue wants China's 'most favoured nation' status". Pacific Islands News Association. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
History will note though that China is the first country to recognise Niue diplomatically formally and I thank the Chinese Government for that honour. I acknowledge the former Premier Hon Young Vivian and his Government who initiated and finalised these arrangements in December last year.
- "COOK ISLANDS PRIME MINISTER CONGRATULATES THE PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCILS OF STATE AND MINISTERS, THE GOVERNMENT AND THE CUBAN PEOPLE ON THE ANNIVERSARY". Embassy of Cuba in New Zealand with concurrent accreditations to the Republic of Fiji, Cook Islands, Independent State of Samoa, Kingdom of Tonga, Tuvalu, Republic of Kiribati. January 3, 2013. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
In his letter, the dignitary referred to the strengthening and deepening of the ties of friendship between the two countries since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2002...
- "Cuba And Niue Establish Diplomatic Relations". Cuba-I. September 5, 2014. Archived from the original on September 7, 2014. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
Cuba has diplomatic relations with 190 countries, orders and institutions. With this signing, Niue becomes the 191st State with which Cuba has ties at the highest level.Cite uses deprecated parameter
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- "Relations between Turkey and Cook Islands". Republic of Turkey Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
Diplomatic relations between Turkey and Cook Islands were established on 28 October 2008.
- "Turkey's candidacy for UN Security Council 'valuable'". June 7, 2014. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
He said a Joint Declaration on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations with the Pacific island country of Niue was signed at the meeting. 'With Niue added, we have diplomatic relations with all Pacific Island Forum countries,' he said. ... The Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS) include the Cook Islands… Niue…
- "Lecture by Prime Minister Puna of the Cook Islands -State recognition of the Cook Islands to lead to furthering cooperation-". Meiji University. June 22, 2011. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
This event materialized as a result of Prime Minister Puna's visit to Japan to establish diplomatic relations between Japan and the Cook Islands after Japan gave state recognition to the Cook Islands on 25 March. The Cook Islands are the 193rd state to be recognized as an independent state by Japan.
- "State Recognition of the Cook Islands and Founding of Diplomatic Relations" (PDF). Embassy of Japan in New Zealand. September 2, 2011. Retrieved July 28, 2015.
With the recognition of the Cook Islands, Japan now recognises 193 countries.
- "Japan recognizes Niue, population 1,611, as a sovereign nation". The China Post. May 16, 2015. Retrieved July 9, 2015.
Japan on Friday added one more country to its map of the world, recognizing the tiny Pacific island nation of Niue
- "Pacific island leaders gather for aid talks in Iwaki". The Japan Times. May 22, 2015. Retrieved July 9, 2015.
Ahead of the conference, Japan recognized as a sovereign state the tiny island nation of Niue, home to 1,611 inhabitants.
- Kosovo has been recognised by 112 out of 193 United Nations member states
- "Kosova lidh marrëdhënie diplomatike me Ishujt Cook" (in Albanian). KOHA. May 18, 2015. Retrieved July 28, 2015.
- MW/CIHC (May 19, 2015). "Ceremony celebrates Kosovo ties". Cook Islands News. Retrieved July 28, 2015.
The Joint Communiqué outlines the agreement of the two governments to develop friendly relations and cooperation on the basis of the principles of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-aggression, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence.
- "Niue recognizes Kosovo's independence". Republika E Kosovës Ministry of Foreign Affairs. June 24, 2014. Retrieved July 28, 2015.
It considers Queen Elizabeth as head of state, while this recognition is important as Niue is a sovereign member with full voting rights in UN agencies such as UNESCO, WHO, WTO, which Kosovo intends to join.
- "Cookinseln Außenpolitik" (in German). October 2013. Retrieved July 28, 2015.
Der völkerrechtliche Status der Cookinseln ist besonderer Natur. Die Cookinseln sind ein unabhängiger Staat in 'freier Assoziierung mit Neuseeland'.
- "Arrêté royal relatif à la reconnaissance des Iles Cook" (in French). Etaamb. October 10, 2004. Retrieved June 30, 2015.
Le Royaume de Belgique reconnaît le présent Etat sous l'appellation « Iles Cook »
- "Cook Islands and the Netherlands establish Diplomatic Relations". Cook Islands Herald.
The Cook Islands and the Kingdom of the Netherlands this month established diplomatic relations through an exchange of notes by the respective Foreign Ministries. This followed upon advice through diplomatic channels that the Netherlands had recognised the Cook Islands as a sovereign, independent State.
- "KOREA ESTABLISHES DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS WITH THE COOK ISLANDS". Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Korea. February 25, 2013. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
The Cook Islands will mark the 190th country with which Korea has forged diplomatic relations.
- Emanuel Mori; Henry Puna (September 24, 2014). "JOINT COMMUNIQUĒ ON THE ESTABLISHMENT OF DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS BETWEEN THE FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA AND THE COOK ISLANDS" (PDF). Government of the Federated States of Micronesia. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
Reaffirming their commitment to the principles of: sovereign equality, respect for each other's territory...
- "Brazil, Cook Islands forge new relations". Cook Islands News. September 5, 2015. Retrieved January 12, 2016.
A joint communique is a joint expression of commitment by two governments to cooperate and collaborate in political, economic, cultural and humanitarian spheres in accordance with principles of mutual respect for sovereignty, equality and peace.
- "Antigua And Barbuda Establishes Diplomatic Relations With Cook Islands". Antigua Newsroom. 16 November 2017. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
The communiqué conveys the agreement of both States for their diplomatic relations to be “guided by the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations and international law, particularly on equality among States, respect for national sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and respect for international treaties.
- "Cook Islands establish diplomatic relations with Indonesia". Pacific Islands News Association. 14 July 2019. Retrieved 6 September 2019.
Joint communiques play a significant role in relations between states, as they are affirmation of recognition by each state of each other’s political and economic sovereignty as states and signify commitment by both states to promote cooperation on the basis of equality, mutual respect for each other’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity as well as non-interference in the internal affairs of each other, guided by the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961.
- "Press Releases : Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between Thailand and Niue". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand. August 27, 2013. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
The two Governments have agreed to develop and strengthen friendly relations and cooperation between the two countries and peoples in accordance with the principles of equality, mutual respect for sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs.
- Yingluck Shinawatra (August 27, 2013). "Announcement On the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations Between The Kingdom of Thailand and Niue" (PDF). Retrieved October 21, 2014.
Being desirous of promoting and reinforcing friendly relations between the two countries and peoples in accordance with the principles of equality, mutual respect for sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and non-interference in each other's internal affairs...
- "Niue Establish Diplomatic Relations with Italy" (PDF). Government of Niue. September 21, 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 29, 2015. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
The two Parties have agreed to develop friendly relations and cooperation between them on the basis of the principles of mutual respect, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality, mutual benefit and peaceful coexistence.Cite uses deprecated parameter
- "Cook Islands". France in New Zealand. March 13, 2014. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
Subsequently the Cook Islands has no international sovereignty.
- "Niue". France in New Zealand. March 13, 2014. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
Niue has no international sovereignty, although the island has begun establishing its own foreign policies.
- "ASPECTS OF FOREIGN RELATIONS UNDER THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN AGREEMENTS ON INTERIM SELF-GOVERNMENT ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE WEST BANK AND GAZA". Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. July 1, 1994. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
- "Israel's Diplomatic Missions Abroad: Status of relations". Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
Total number of countries with which Israel maintains diplomatic relations: 159... State... Cook Islands... Niue
- "Asia, Europe and Other Regions". Cook Islands Government. Archived from the original on September 17, 2011. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
State of Israel... 2008Cite uses deprecated parameter
- "COOK ISLANDS: CONSTITUTIONAL STATUS AND INTERNATIONAL PERSONALITY" (PDF). Retrieved October 21, 2014.
The maturity of the Cook Islands' international personality does not mean that the Cook Islands is, in constitutional terms, and independent sovereign state. In New Zealand's view, a constitutional change of that significance would have implications in terms of Cook Islanders' eligibility for New Zealand citizenship, and would require formal constitutional acts including a referendum and changes to the Cook Islands Constitution.
- John Andrews (June 16, 2001). "PM warns Cook Islands over sovereignty". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
She said she had pointed out New Zealand citizenship implications for Cook Islanders if the Cooks sought sovereignty, enabling them to be a member in their own right.
If the Cooks wanted to become a sovereign nation, it needed its own citizenship. Cook Islanders would remain New Zealand citizens but "if they want to change it, they can."
Ms Clark said: "If they want to exert full independence, New Zealand will not stand in their way."
- "Niue". New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
New Zealand and Niue have a special relationship founded on close historical ties, unique constitutional arrangements and a common citizenship and currency. Niue became a British protectorate in 1900 and was annexed by New Zealand in 1901. In 1974, following an act of self-determination under United Nations auspices, the people of Niue adopted a Constitution providing for full self-government in free association with New Zealand, a status distinct from that of full independence.
- "Limits in the Seas No. 100 MARITIME BOUNDARIES: UNITED STATES-COOK ISLANDS and UNITED STATES-NEW ZEALAND(TOKELAU)" (PDF). United States Department of State.
One issue that had to be addressed during the negotiation of this treaty was the political status of the Cook Islands Government. The Cook Islands is in free association with New Zealand. On internal matters it is self-governing and it may unilaterally declare its independence from New Zealand at any time. The Cook Islands conducts its foreign affairs in conjunction with New Zealand. The Cook Islands declared and does manage a 200-nautical-mile zone. During the negotiations the question arose whether it was legally possible for the United States to enter into a treaty relationship with political entity other than a fully sovereign and independent state.
- "Foreign Consular Offices in the United States". State.gov. Archived from the original on 2012-09-26. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- "Dependencies and Areas of Special Sovereignty". United Statesa Department of State. November 29, 2011. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
- Central Intelligence Agency (June 20, 2014). "AUSTRALIA-OCEANIA :: COOK ISLANDS". The World Factbook. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
- "Limits in the Seas No. 119 Maritime Boundary: United States-Niue" (PDF). United States Department of State. July 30, 1997. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
Prior to signing the treaty, the political status of Niue was addressed. Niue is in free association with New Zealand. On internal matters it is self-governing. Niue conducts its foreign affairs in conjunction with New Zealand. Niue has declared and does manage its exclusive economic zone. The United States requested, and received, confirmation from New Zealand that the Government of Niue had the competence to enter into this agreement with the United States. The text of New Zealand's note is reproduced at Annex 2 to this study.
- Central Intelligence Agency (June 20, 2014). "AUSTRALIA-OCEANIA :: NIUE". The World Factbook. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
- Dumienski, Zbigniew (2014). "MICROSTATES AS MODERN PROTECTED STATES: Towards a New Definition of Micro-Statehood" (PDF). The Center for Small States Studies. ISSN 1670-4290.