The International Human Rights Framework on the Right of Peaceful Assembly

Palau is a signatory but not a State Party to the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Article 21 of which governs the right of peaceful assembly. 

The right of peaceful assembly is, though, a fundamental human right that is part of the corpus of customary international law. It is also a general principle of law.See Art. 38(1), 1945 Statute of the International Court of Justice.

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.

The Domestic Legal Framework on the Right of Peaceful Assembly

Constitutional Provisions

Under Section 3 of Article IV of the 1979 Constitution of the Republic of Palau, the government "shall take no action to impair or deny the right of any person to peacefully assemble".

National Legislation

There is no dedicated national legislation on assembly in Palau.

The Legal Framework on Use of Force During Assemblies

The Use of Force

International Legal Rules

Under international law, the duty on the State and its law enforcement agencies is to facilitate the enjoyment of the right of peaceful assembly. According to the 1990 United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials:

In the dispersal of assemblies that are unlawful but non-violent, law enforcement officials shall avoid the use of force or, where that is not practicable, shall restrict such force to the minimum extent necessary.

All force used by police and other law enforcement agencies must be necessary for a legitimate law enforcement purpose and proportionate to that purpose.

National Legislation

According to Section 2015 of the law on criminal procedure: "In all cases where the person arrested refuses to submit or attempts to escape, such degree of force may be used as is necessary to compel submission." 

The Use of Firearms

International Legal Rules

According to the 1990 United Nations Basic Principles, in the dispersal of violent assemblies, a law enforcement official may only use a firearm against a specific individual where this is necessary to confront an imminent threat of death or serious injury or a grave and proximate threat to life. 

National Legislation

Under the Penal Code, firearms may only be used where a law enforcement official is arresting a suspect for a felony; where it creates "no substantial risk of injury to innocent persons"; and where either there is prior conduct including the use or threat of deadly force; or there is a substantial risk that the person to be arrested will cause death or serious bodily injury if the arrest is delayed.

These provisions are more permissive than international law allows.

State Compliance with its Legal Obligations

Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies

Palau is not a State Party to the ICCPR.

In the 2016 Universal Periodic Review of Palau under the UN Human Rights Council, the government reiterated the constitutional protection of the right of assembly.


1979 Constitution of the Republic of Palau - Download (152 KB)
Penal Code - Download (1 MB)