Cook Islands Renews Push For Membership In United Nations

Country missing out on technical assistance from intergovernment bodies

By Rashneel Kumar 

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Oct. 4, 2017) – The Cook Islands government is making a new push for membership of the United Nations. 

With the country set to attain developed nation status next year, Finance minister Mark Brown says there’s a compelling argument for the Cook Islands to become a member the global intergovernmental organisation.

With the country reaching developed status, it would become important for the Cook Islands to have an increased role on the international stage, he says.

Brown says the country has missed out on opportunities for technical assistance or regional capacity building programmes from a number of agencies that come under the umbrella of the United Nations.

“(Not being a member) makes it difficult for us to access the type of support that is available out there to other countries. So this (UN bid) is something that we will be having discussions on with the New Zealand government in the coming weeks.”

Earlier attempts by the Cook Islands to gain UN membership have failed to draw support from the New Zealand government and sparked a major media row last year. All Cook Islanders are entitled to hold New Zealand passports under the special constitutional relationship between the two countries.

New Zealand earlier said the Cook Islands’ bid to gain UN membership would mean they could lose New Zealand citizenship.

Brown said one of the ways to avoid such a situation was to consider dual citizenship.

“New Zealand previously has made clear their concern over our citizenship as a barrier to them supporting the UN membership, so we may have to look at ways around that.”

“One of the things that has been raised and discussed as a possible way for us to overcome the citizenship issue, is for the Cook Islands to have dual citizenship and this will require more discussion with the New Zealand government.”

Dual citizenship would address a number of other issues which Cook Islanders have been facing, including the representation in the field of sports, Brown said.

He said passports served as proof of eligibility for athletes to represent their countries.

For Cook Islanders, the situation had been in “very murky and muddy waters” as they also held New Zealand passports.

“It affects professional players who are Cook Islanders but working and plying their trade in New Zealand under a New Zealand passport.

 “They are unable to be recognised as Cook Islands representatives.

“It has affected us in the Pacific Games in terms of who qualifies as Cook Islanders to represent the country, because they carry a New Zealand passport as well.

“I see this (dual citizenship) as one possible solution to overcoming the issue of citizenship that New Zealand has.”

Brown said he expected the New Zealand government to support the idea.

“It will be an initiative between the Cook Islands and New Zealand.”

Brown said the two countries shared a historical relationship and the government did not want Cook Islanders living in New Zealand to lose access to that country as a result of the Cook Islands’ bid for a seat in the UN.

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