Constitutional Provisions

The Cook Islands is a state that is neither a member nor an observer state of the United Nations. Its 1964 Cook Islands Constitution Act (as amended through 1997) protects fundamental human rights as follows:

It is hereby recognised and declared that in the Cook Islands there exist, and shall continue to exist, without discrimination by reason of race, national origin, colour, religion, opinion, belief, or sex, the following fundamental human rights and freedoms:

The right of the individual to life, liberty, and security of the person, and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with law.S. 64(1)(a), 1964 Cook Islands Constitution Act (as amended through 1997).

The Constitution does not refer to the Cook Islands Police Service, one of the world's smallest. 

Treaty Adherence

Global Treaties

Adherence to Selected Human Rights Treaties
1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Not party
ICCPR Optional Protocol 1 N/A
1984 Convention against Torture (CAT) Not party
Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints N/A
CAT Optional Protocol 1 N/A
Adherence to International Criminal Law Treaties
1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court State Party

Regional Treaties

There is not yet a regional human rights treaty to which Pacific nations can adhere despite discussions going back decades as to the possibility of establishing a regional mechanism..

National Legislation

Police Use of Force

The actions of the Cook Islands Police Service are regulated by the 2012 Police Act. The Service polices 15 islands spread across two million square kilometres of ocean on a budget of just over $4 million, three quarters of which is spent on salaries.

Police Oversight

The Ombudsman is authorised by the 2012 Police Act to oversee the Cook Islands Police Service where a complaint is made to the Police Commissioner and it is not investigated or the complainant is not satisfied with the outcome.S. 91, 2012 Police Act.If death or serious injury results, or appears to result, from police action, the Police Commissioner must inform the Ombudsman.S. 92, 2012 Police Act. 



Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies

The Cook Islands has not adhered to the ICCPR or the Convention against Torture. In its Concluding Comments of 2017 on the Cook Islands, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women did not address police use of force.


1964 Cook Islands Constitution Act (as amended through 1997)

2012 Police Act