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This article is about the police organization. For the band, see Interpol (band). For other uses, see Interpol (disambiguation).
International Criminal Police Organization – INTERPOL
Common name Interpol
Abbreviation ICPO
Interpol logo.png
Logo of the International Criminal Police Organization – INTERPOL
Motto Connecting police for a safer world
Agency overview
Formed 7 September 1923
Employees 756 (2013)[1]
Annual budget €78 million (2013)[1]
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
International agency
Countries 190 member countries
Map of the member states of Interpol.svg
Map of International Criminal Police Organization – INTERPOL's jurisdiction.
Governing body Interpol General Assembly
Constituting instrument ICPO-INTERPOL Constitution and General Regulations
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters Lyon, France
Agency executives
National Central Bureaus 190
Interpol headquarters in Lyon.

Coordinates: 45°46′56″N 4°50′54″E / 45.78219°N 4.84838°E / 45.78219; 4.84838 The International Criminal Police Organization (French: Organisation internationale de police criminelle, OIPC - ICPO), or INTERPOL, is an intergovernmental organization facilitating international police cooperation. It was established as the International Criminal Police Commission (ICPC) in 1923 and adopted its telegraphic address as its common name in 1956.[2]

Interpol has an annual budget of around €78 million, most of which is provided through annual contributions by its membership of 190 countries (as of 2015). The organization's headquarters is in Lyon, France. It is the second largest political organization after the United Nations in terms of international representation. In 2013, the Interpol General Secretariat employed a staff of 756, representing 100 member countries.[1] Its current Secretary-General is Jürgen Stock, the former deputy head of Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office. He replaced Ronald Noble, a former United States Under Secretary of the Treasury for Enforcement, who stepped down in November 2014 after serving 14 years.[3] Succeeding Khoo Boon Hui, Interpol's current President is former Deputy Central Director of the French Judicial Police Mireille Ballestrazzi.

To keep Interpol as politically neutral as possible, its charter forbids it, at least in theory, from undertaking interventions or activities of a political, military, religious, or racial nature or involving itself in disputes over such matters.[4] Its work focuses primarily on public safety and battling terrorism, crimes against humanity, environmental crime, genocide, war crimes,[5] organized crime, piracy, illicit traffic in works of art, illicit drug production, drug trafficking, weapons smuggling, human trafficking, money laundering, child pornography, white-collar crime, computer crime, intellectual property crime and corruption.


In the first part of the 20th century, several efforts were taken to formalize international police cooperation, but they initially failed.[6] Among these efforts were the First International Criminal Police Congress in Monaco in 1914, and the International Police Conference in New York in 1922. The Monaco Congress failed because it was organized by legal experts and political officials, not by police professionals, while the New York Conference failed to attract international attention.

In 1923, a new initiative was taken at the International Criminal Police Congress in Vienna where the International Criminal Police Commission (ICPC) was successfully founded as the direct forerunner of Interpol. Founding members included police officials from Russia, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Poland, China, Egypt, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland and Yugoslavia.[7] The United Kingdom joined in 1928.[8] The United States did not join Interpol until 1938, although a US police officer unofficially attended the 1923 congress.[9]

Following Anschluss in 1938, the organization fell under the control of Nazi Germany, and the Commission's headquarters were eventually moved to Berlin in 1942.[10] From 1938 to 1945, the presidents of Interpol included Otto Steinhäusl, Reinhard Heydrich, Arthur Nebe, and Ernst Kaltenbrunner. All were generals in the SS, and Kaltenbrunner was the highest ranking SS officer executed after the Nuremberg Trials.

After the end of World War II in 1945, the organization was revived as the International Criminal Police Organization by officials from Belgium, France, Scandinavia and the United Kingdom. Its new headquarters were established in Saint-Cloud, a suburb of Paris. They remained there until 1989, when they were moved to their present location in Lyon.

Until the 1980s, Interpol did not intervene in the prosecution of Nazi war criminals in accordance with Article 3 of its Charter, which prohibited intervention in "political" matters.[11]

In July 2010, former Interpol President Jackie Selebi was found guilty of corruption by the South African High Court in Johannesburg for accepting bribes worth €156,000 from a drug trafficker.[12] After being charged in January 2008, Selebi resigned as president of Interpol and was put on extended leave as National Police Commissioner of South Africa.[13] He was temporarily replaced by Arturo Herrera Verdugo, the National Commissioner of Investigations Police of Chile and former vice president for the American Zone, who remained acting president until October 2008 and the appointment of Khoo Boon Hui.[14]

On 8 November 2012, the 81st General Assembly closed with the election of Deputy Central Director of the French Judicial Police Mireille Ballestrazzi as the new President of the organization. She thus became Interpol's first female president.[15]


The role of Interpol is defined by the general provisions of its constitution.

Article 2 states that its role is:

  1. To ensure and promote the widest possible mutual assistance between all criminal police authorities within the limits of the laws existing in the different countries and in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  2. To establish and develop all institutions likely to contribute effectively to the prevention and suppression of ordinary law crimes.

Article 3 states:[16]

It is strictly forbidden for the Organization to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.


Interpol is not a supranational law enforcement agency and has no agents who are able to make arrests.[17] Instead, it is an international organization that functions as a network of criminal law enforcement agencies from different countries. The organization thus functions as an administrative liaison among the law enforcement agencies of the member countries, providing communications and database assistance, assisted via the central headquarters in Lyon, France.[18]

Interpol’s collaborative form of cooperation is useful when fighting international crime because language, cultural and bureaucratic differences can make it difficult for police officials from different nations to work together. For example, if ICE and FBI special agents track a terrorist to Italy, they may not know whom to contact in the Polizia di Stato, if the Carabinieri have jurisdiction over some aspect of the case, or who in the Italian government must be notified of the ICE/FBI's involvement. ICE and FBI can contact the Interpol National Central Bureau in Italy, which would act as a liaison between the United States and Italian law enforcement agencies.

Interpol's databases at the Lyon headquarters can assist law enforcement in fighting international crime.[17] While national agencies have their own extensive crime databases, the information rarely extends beyond one nation's borders. Interpol’s databases can track criminals and crime trends around the world, specifically by means of collections of fingerprints and face photos, lists of wanted persons, DNA samples and travel documents. Interpol’s lost and stolen travel document database alone contains more than 12 million records. Officials at the headquarters also analyze these data and release information on crime trends to the member countries.

An encrypted internet-based worldwide communications network allows Interpol agents and member countries to contact each other at any time. Known as I-24/7, the network offers constant access to Interpol's databases.[17] While the National Central Bureaus are the primary access sites to the network, some member countries have expanded it to key areas such as airports and border access points. Member countries can also access each other's criminal databases via the I-24/7 system.

Interpol issued 13,637 notices in 2013, of which 8,857 were Red Notices, compared to 4,596 in 2008 and 2,037 in 2003. As of 2013, there are currently 52,880 valid notices in circulation.[1]

In the event of an international disaster, terrorist attack or assassination, Interpol can send an Incident Response Team (IRT). IRTs can offer a range of expertise and database access to assist with victim identification, suspect identification and the dissemination of information to other nations' law enforcement agencies. In addition, at the request of local authorities, they can act as a central command and logistics operation to coordinate other law enforcement agencies involved in a case. Such teams were deployed 8 times in 2013.[1] Interpol began issuing its own travel documents in 2009 with hopes that nations would remove visa requirements for individuals travelling for Interpol business, thereby improving response times.[19]


In 2013, Interpol's operating income was €78 million, of which 68% was contributed by member countries, mostly in the form of statutory contributions (67%) and 26% came from externally funded projects, private foundations and commercial enterprises. Financial income and reimbursements made up the other 6% of the total.[1] From 2004 to 2010, Interpol's external auditors was the French Court of Audit.[20][21] In November 2010, the Court of Audit was replaced by the Office of the Auditor General of Norway for a three-year term with an option for a further three years.[22][23]


Despite its political neutral stance, some have criticized the agency for its role in arrests that critics contend were politically motivated. Many international human rights organizations, such as the British Fair Trials International [24] and the Polish Open Dialog Foundation [25] are calling for the reform of Interpol in order to avoid its political misuse by non-democratic states.[26] Of the 187 Interpol member states (excluding the Holy See, the overseas territories of the Netherlands and the United Kingdom), 104 states, according to Freedom House, are ‘not free’ or are only ‘partially free’.[27]

The problem of political misuse of Interpol was also raised on numerous occasions by several international organizations. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is preparing a report on the issue, which could already be published at the end of 2015 or in early 2016,[28] while Members of the European Parliament and Delegates to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe have repeatedly been calling for Interpol’s reform. Furthermore, the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees pointed to the problem of arrest of refugees, which are apprehended or detained, due to politically motivated requests made by their countries of origin, which are abusing Interpol’s "Red Notice system".[29]

On 1–3 July 2015 Interpol organized the first meeting of a Working Group on the Processing of Information (GTI), to which a number of NGOs have been invited to provide their recommendations for the improvement of the Interpol system.[30][31] Over 60 representatives from 30 countries took part in the meeting organized in Lyon, France.[32]


In 2013, Interpol was criticized over its multi-million dollar deals with such private sector bodies as FIFA, Philip Morris, and the pharmaceutical industry. The criticism was mainly about the lack of transparency and potential conflicts of interest.[34][35][36][37][38][39]

2014 Russian intervention in Ukraine[edit]

On 25 July 2014, despite the fact that Constitution prohibits Interpol to undertake any intervention or activities of a political or military nature, the nationalist paramilitary leader of Ukraine Dmytro Yarosh was placed on Interpol's international wanted list at the request of Russian authorities,[40] which made him the only person wanted internationally after the beginning of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia in 2014. For a long time, Interpol refused to place on the wanted list the former President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych who is being suspected in mass killing of protesters during Euromaidan.[41][42] He was finally placed on the wanted list on 12 January 2015.[43] However, on 16 July 2015, after an intervention of Joseph Hage Aaronson LLP, British law firm hired by the former Ukrainian President Yanukovych, the international arrest warrant against the former president of Ukraine was suspended pending further review.[44] In December 2014, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) liquidated sabotage and reconnaissance group that was led by a former agent of the Ukrainian Bureau of Interpol that also has family relations in the Ukrainian counter-intelligence agencies.[45] This year, Russia has made attempts to place on the Interpol wanted list Ihor Kolomoyskyi, Ukrainian politician, and Pavel Ushevets, Ukrainian civic activist, subjected to criminal persecution in Russia, following his pro-Ukrainian art performance in Moscow.[26][46]

Russia and other former Soviet republics like Azerbaijan, Belarus and Kazakhstan are among the top countries which misuse Interpol system. The report published by the Open Dialog Foundation mentions 44 highly political cases, which have passed through the Interpol system. Of these, 18 cases of political persecution originated in Russia, 10 – in Kazakhstan and 5 – in Belarus.[26]


The current emblem of Interpol was adopted in 1950 and comprises the following elements:[2]

  • the globe indicates worldwide activity
  • the olive branches represent peace
  • the sword represents police action
  • the scales signify justice



UN member states without membership[edit]

Partially recognised states without membership[edit]


In addition to its General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, Interpol maintains seven regional bureaus:[1]

Interpol's Command and Coordination Centres offer a 24/7 point of contact for national police forces seeking urgent information or facing a crisis. The original is in Lyon with a second in Buenos Aires added in September 2011. A third is scheduled to open in Singapore in September 2014.[48]

Interpol opened a Special Representative Office to the United Nations in New York in 2004[49] and to the European Union in Brussels in 2009.[50]

The organization has constructed the Interpol Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI) in Singapore to act as its research and development facility, and a place of cooperation on digital crimes investigations. It was officially opened in April 2015, but had already become active beforehand. Most notably, a world-wide takedown of the SIMDA botnet infrastructure was co-ordinated and executed from IGCI's Cyber Fusion Centre in the weeks before the opening, as was revealed at the launch event.[51]

Secretaries-general and presidents[edit]

Ronald Noble at the 6th Global Congress about combating piracy and counterfeiting.

Secretaries-general since organization's inception in 1923:

Austria Oskar Dressler 1923–1946
France Louis Ducloux 1946–1951
France Marcel Sicot 1951–1963
France Jean Népote 1963–1978
France André Bossard 1978–1985
United Kingdom Raymond Kendall 1985–2000
United States Ronald Noble 2000–2014
Germany Jürgen Stock 2014–

Presidents since organization's inception in 1923:

Austria Johann Schober 1923–1932
Austria Franz Brandl 1932–1934
Austria Eugen Seydel 1934–1935
Austria Michael Skubl 1935–1938
Nazi Germany Otto Steinhäusl 1938–1940
Nazi Germany Reinhard Heydrich 1940–1942
Nazi Germany Arthur Nebe 1942–1943
Nazi Germany Ernst Kaltenbrunner 1943–1945
Belgium Florent Louwage 1945–1956
Portugal Agostinho Lourenço 1956–1960
United Kingdom Sir Richard Jackson 1960–1963
Finland Fjalar Jarva 1963–1964
Belgium Firmin Franssen 1964–1968
West Germany Paul Dickopf 1968–1972
Canada William Leonard Higgitt 1972–1976
Sweden Carl Persson 1976–1980
Philippines Jolly Bugarin 1980–1984
United States John Simpson 1984–1988
France Ivan Barbot 1988–1992
Canada Norman Inkster 1992–1994
Sweden Björn Eriksson 1994–1996
Japan Toshinori Kanemoto 1996–2000
Spain Jesús Espigares Mira 2000–2004
South Africa Jackie Selebi 2004–2008
Chile Arturo Herrera Verdugo 2008
Singapore Khoo Boon Hui 2008–2012
France Mireille Ballestrazzi 2012–

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "2013 Annual Report" (PDF). Interpol. Retrieved 9 November 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Name and logo". Interpol. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  3. ^ "Germany's Jurgen Stock new Interpol chief". Sky News Australia. APP. 8 November 2014. Retrieved 9 November 2014. 
  4. ^ "Neutrality (Article 3 of the Constitution)". Interpol. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  5. ^ "War crimes". Interpol. Retrieved 9 November 2014. 
  6. ^ Deflem, M. (2000). "Bureaucratization and Social Control: Historical Foundations of International Police Cooperation". Law & Society Review 34 (3): 739. doi:10.2307/3115142. JSTOR 3115142. 
  7. ^ "Interpol: Frequently Asked Questions" (PDF). Fair Trials International. November 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  8. ^ "Interpol Member States: The United Kingdom". Interpol. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
  9. ^ "Interpol Member States: The United States". Interpol. Retrieved 5 January 2012. 
  10. ^ Deflem, M. (2002). "The Logic of Nazification: The Case of the International Criminal Police Commission("Interpol")". International Journal of Comparative Sociology 43: 21. doi:10.1177/002071520204300102. 
  11. ^ Barnett, M.; Coleman, L. (2005). "Designing Police: Interpol and the Study of Change in International Organizations". International Studies Quarterly 49 (4): 593. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2478.2005.00380.x.  edit
  12. ^ "Ex-S Africa police chief convicted". Al Jazeera. 2 July 2010. Retrieved 30 November 2010. 
  13. ^ Craig Timberg (13 January 2008). "S. African Chief of Police Put On Leave". The Washington Post (Rustenburg). Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  14. ^ "Interpol President Jackie Selebi resigns from post". Lyon: Interpol. 13 January 2008. Retrieved 30 January 2011. 
  15. ^ "France’s Ballestrazzi becomes first female President of INTERPOL". Rome: Interpol. 8 November 2012. Retrieved 8 November 2012. 
  16. ^ "ICPO-Interpol Constitution and General Regulations". Interpol. Retrieved 18 December 2010. 
  17. ^ a b c Anheier, Helmut K.; Juergensmeyer, Mark, eds. (2012). Encyclopedia of Global Studies. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications. pp. 956–958. ISBN 9781412964296. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  18. ^ "Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern World". 2008. doi:10.1093/acref/9780195176322.001.0001. ISBN 9780195176322. 
  19. ^ "INTERPOL issues its first ever passports". Singapore: Interpol. 13 October 2009. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  20. ^ "Appointment of Interpol External Auditor" (PDF). Cancún: Interpol. 8 October 2004. Retrieved 18 December 2010. 
  21. ^ "Questions and Answers". Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Retrieved 4 March 2010. 
  22. ^ "Financial Statements for the year ended 31 December 2011" (PDF). Interpol. 25 May 2012. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  23. ^ "Audit assignments and secondments". Riksrevisjonen - Office of the Auditor General of Norway. Retrieved 1 July 2013. 
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ a b c,the-report-the-interpol-system-is-in-need-of-reform
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^,odf-drafted-recommendations-on-the-reform-of-interpol
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^ Ricardo Sandoval Palos (20 July 2011). "Interpol reacts to ICIJ story". International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Center for Public Integrity. Retrieved 11 April 2013. 
  34. ^ Martinière, Mathieu; Schmidt, Robert (30 October 2013). "The smoke and mirrors of the tobacco industry's funding of Interpol". Mediapart (Paris). Retrieved 28 April 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  35. ^ Industry-INTERPOL deal signals challenges to illicit trade protocol. Retrieved on 2014-04-28.
  36. ^ Interpol: Wer hilft hier wem? | ZEIT ONLINE. Retrieved on 2014-04-28.
  37. ^ Tabakindustrie: Interpol, die Lobby und das Geld | ZEIT ONLINE. Retrieved on 2014-04-28.
  38. ^ Joossens, Luk; Gilmore, Anna B. "The transnational tobacco companies’ strategy to promote Codentify, their inadequate tracking and tracing standard" (PDF). / 
  39. ^ (French) Interpol : le lobby du tabac se paie une vitrine / L'immoral financement d'Interpol / Dossiers / Actualité / France monde / Journal / Lyon Capitale - le journal de l'actualité de Lyon et du Grand Lyon. Retrieved on 2014-04-28.
  40. ^ "Interpol issues wanted notice for nationalist leader Yarosh at Russia’s behest", KyivPost, 25 July 2014
  41. ^ Interpol refuses to place Yanukovych and Co on wanted list. Ukrinform. 8 December 2014
  42. ^ MVS investigates political motives of Interpol on matters of Yanukovych and Co. Ukrinform. 17 November 2014
  43. ^ "YANUKOVYCH, VIKTOR: Wanted by the judicial authorities of Ukraine for prosecution / to serve a sentence". 
  44. ^
  45. ^ Group of militants was led by former Interpol agent - SBU. Ukrayinska Pravda. 19 December 2014
  46. ^,russia-continues-to-abuse-the-mechanisms-of-international-criminal-prosecution
  47. ^ Taiwan was an Interpol member as the Republic of China until 1984, when it was replaced by the People's Republic of China. Taiwan was offered an option to continue as China's sub-bureau under name "Taiwan, China", but it refused and withdrew from the organisation.
  48. ^ "Command & Coordination Centre". Interpol. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  49. ^ "Order on Interpol Work Inside U.S. Irks Conservatives". The New York Times (New York). 30 December 2009. 
  50. ^ "Official opening of INTERPOL's office of its Special Representative to the European Union marks milestone in co-operation". Brussels: Interpol. 25 September 2009. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  51. ^ "S'pore, Interpol reaffirm excellent partnership". Channel NewsAsia. Singapore: MediaCorp. 22 May 2013. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 

External links[edit]