The International Human Rights Framework on the Right of Peaceful Assembly

Tuvalu is 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

Section 25 of the 1986 Constitution of Tuvalu guarantees the right to assemble freely, but makes it subject to laws protecting the interests of defence, public safety, public order, public morality, or public health, or for the purpose of protecting the rights or freedoms of others.

National Legislation

There is no dedicated national legislation governing assemblies in Tuvalu.

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

Under Section 16(2) of the 2008 Criminal Procedure Code, if a person forcibly resists a police officer's attempt "to arrest him, or attempts to evade the arrest, such police officer or other person may use all means necessary to effect the arrest".

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

The Constitution potentially allows deadly force in the protection of property or to suppress a riot. This does not comply with international law.

State Compliance with its Legal Obligations

Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies

Tuvalu is not a State Party to the ICCPR.

In the 2018 Universal Periodic Review of Tuvalu under the UN Human Rights Council, the right of peaceful assembly was not addressed.

Views of Civil Society

According to Freedom House's 2019 report on Tuvalu:

The constitution provides for freedom of assembly, and the government typically upholds this right in practice.


1986 Constitution of Tuvalu - Download (360 KB)
2008 Tuvalu Criminal Procedure Code - Download (622 KB)
2012 Police Powers and Duties Regulations of Tuvalu - Download (134 KB)