1 Oct 2019

Cook Islands quest for UN membership on hold

7:35 am on 1 October 2019

The Cook Islands has shelved its push to become a member of the United Nations - for now.

The New Zealand realm country has long sought UN membership, which Wellington has refused to back.

The Pacific News Island Agency, reports the Cook Islands deputy prime minister, Mark Brown, said the idea is off the table for now, with next year's move to becoming a developed country taking priority.

That shift is sending some jitters through the Cooks, as the graduation cuts off many sources of development funding.

The Cook Islands - where the people are New Zealand citizens, but the government acts independently - has long sought a seat at the UN.

The US allows its associated states - the Marshall Islands, Palau and Federated States of Micronesia - to be members.

But Wellington has long refused to do the same for its territories, taking the position that membership would be a declaration of independence.

Mr Brown said the Cook Islands has not given up on the aspiration, just that it's been put aside for now.

Cook Islands Finance Minister Mark Brown

Cook Islands finance minister Mark Brown Photo: Cook Islands News