Organization: Interpol

Student: Mohammed Fakhral-Deen, 11B

Event: TIMUN 2000, Alternative Assignment



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An appropriate song
"The Bobby Fuller 4's
I fought the Law
and the Law won!"


The International Criminal Police Organization


A. Brief Introduction

The development of increasingly sophisticated facilities for rapid travel has made it far easier for criminals to move around the world. At the same time, the complex structures of modern societies and the constant growth of international exchanges provide more and more opportunities for international criminal activity, which has now reached alarming proportions. Tracing and arresting international criminals and law offenders may prove extremely difficult; problems can arise in connection with exchanging information, identification, international investigations, and consequent extradition. Because of these problems, police services in different countries must work together if they are to combat international crime successfully. Interpol acts as the organization that facilitates the passage/exchange of criminological information between countries.


B. Function

Interpol has (mainly) two interrelated governing bodies: the General Assembly and the Executive Committee. These two bodies have decision-making and supervisory powers; they meet periodically. The Organizationís permanent departments comprise the General Secretariat, which is responsible for implementing the decisions and recommendations adopted by the two deliberative organs, (the General Assembly and the Executive Committee). Furthermore, the General Secretariatís close contacts with the Interpol National Central Bureaus, (NCBís), in the various Member States provide the basic structural framework for day-to-day international police cooperation; (for the main function of the NCBís, as national bodies, is to act as connections linking between the Member States and the General Secretariat).

The General Assembly is composed of delegates appointed by the governments of Member States. The General Assembly is Interpolís supreme governing body, it meets once a year and takes all major decisions affecting general policy, the resources necessary for international cooperation, effective operational and functioning techniques, the organizationís budget and finances, and programs of activities. The General Assembly is also in charge of electing the officers of Interpol. In general, the Assembly takes and adopts decisions by a simple majority in the form of resolutions. Each Member State represented has one vote.

Thirteen Member Statesí delegates are elected by the General Assembly for the Executive Committee. They must be from different countries and are elected on the basis of equitable geographic distribution.

Officer positions affiliated with the Executive committee include the President, three Vice Presidents, and nine other officers. The President is elected for a four-year term of office. The Presidentís role may be summarized in three key points: he chairs both General Assembly sessions and Executive Committee meetings, he assures and makes certain the implementation of the decisions taken by the Organizationís governing bodies, and he maintains close contact with the Secretary General. Three Vice-Presidents and nine ordinary members are all elected for three-year terms of office.

The Executive Committee usually meets three times a year, discussing and working on four (very) broad and significant key points. The Executive Committee ensures that General Assembly decisions are implemented, prepares the agenda for the General Assembly sessions, approves the program of activities and draft budget before they are submitted to the Assembly, and supervises the management of the General Secretariat.

The General Secretariat is the permanent administrative and technical body through which Interpol operates. It implements the decisions taken by the General Assembly and the Executive Committee, directs and coordinates action designed to combat international crime, centralizes information on crime and criminals, and maintains contact with national and international authorities.

The General Secretariat consists of the Secretary General and the technical and administrative personnel needed to carry out the Organizationís work. The General Secretariat is administered by the Secretary General, who is appointed by the General Assembly for a five-year term of office. He is answerable to the General Assembly and the Executive Committee for the Organizationís general and financial management. The General Secretariat comprises international officials and, as such, must act solely in the interests of the Organization.

The Executive Office is a technical and administrative directorate supporting the Secretary General in his work; it comprises an Executive Office and secretariat, the Communication and Public Relations Sub-Directorate and the Technical Adviserís Office. The Technical Adviserís Office is especially responsible for/as the means of communication between the Secretary General and the Executive Committee, the coordination of the activities of the Executive Committee, preparation of specialized studies, and the implementation of the strategic development plan.

Interpol consists of five major directorates:

The First Directorate is the General Administration; it is responsible for managing the Organizationís accounts, managing staff, equipment and general services, preparing General Assembly sessions and other meetings organized by Interpol, and producing the Organizationís documents (translation, typing, printing and mailing). The First Directorate includes the: Accounts and Finance Department, Document Production Sub-Directorate, Meetings and Missions Office, General and Social Affairs Sub-Directorate, Security Sub-Directorate.

The Second Directorate, Criminal Intelligence, is responsible for centralizing police information and for handling significant criminal cases on an international level. It deals with the computerized processing of criminal information, manages the electronic records system, ensures that internal deletion rules are applied to criminal files, outlines and drafts international notices, summaries of criminal cases and specialized reports; it also organizes meetings on specific cases or symposia, (meetings for discussing particular subjects), on special topics.

The Third Directorate is Legal Affairs, and its main role is to act as the Organizationís legal department. The Director and Assistant Directors deal with international law, public and contract law, the International Police Review, and the General Reference Department.

The Fourth Directorate, Information Systems, studies, develops, and applies the telecommunications and computer technology essential for the operational function(s) of the Organization. It is composed of a Systems Management Sub-Directorate, a Research and Development Sub-Directorate, and an administrative/financial unit. The Information Systems Directorate provides technical support in all issues/affairs connected with telecommunications and computerization for the various departments at the General Secretariat, the Regional Stations, (7), and National Central Bureaus, (177).

The Regional Coordination and Development Directorate is the Fifth and newest Directorate. It was created at the beginning of 1999 in the framework and perspective of the ideas emerging from Interpolís strategic development planning process. An initial market review conducted in 1998 clearly demonstrated the need to reinforce, strengthen, and develop the already-existing policy of regionalization; the market review also illustrated the necessity of intensifying activities in order to coordinate an increasing range of regional initiatives. The mission of the Directorate of Regional Coordination and Development, (which comprises the European Liaison Bureau, the Regional Coordination Bureau and the Sub-Regional Bureaus), is to build upon the existing regional network for cooperation.


C. History

Interpol has a history dating back to 1914; it began in Europe, which is not surprising since many countries of Europe have common borders and a criminal can, for example, be in one of four other countries within an hour of having committed a crime in Belgium. During the First International Criminal Police Congress, held in Monaco from the 14th to the 18th of April 1914, legal experts and police officers from fourteen different countries and territories studied the possibility of establishing an international criminal records office and harmonizing extradition procedures.

The outbreak of the First World War prevented any further significant progress until 1923. After World War I, there was a great increase in crime; Austria was one of the countries most affected by this crime wave. Johann Schober, the President of the Viennese police, obtained his government's support in 1923 for calling together representatives of the criminal police of other countries to the Second International Criminal Police Congress. Representatives from twenty nations met to discuss the problems facing them, and they set up and formed the International Criminal Police Commission, (ICPC), in Vienna in 1923. Vienna was the home of the ICPCís first headquarters, and Schober became its first president. The ICPC was (essentially) a European organization, it operated satisfactorily until the outbreak of World War II.

World War II, although costly to the ICPC, helped in its reformation for the better. Interpol prospered and proved to be a very successful commission from 1923 until 1938; however, in 1938, the Nazis seized Austria, and Interpol along with it. All of its records were taken to Berlin. World War II temporarily ceased Interpolís activities and brought them to an impermanent halt. After World War II, a conference was held in Brussels to revive the ICPC and the whole concept of international police cooperation. After World War II, the French government offered the ICPC a headquarters in Paris, together with a staff for the general secretariat consisting of officials of the French police. This offer was gratefully accepted and the ICPC was reestablished in Paris, France in 1946. A complete reformation of the ICPC was necessary due to the loss or destruction of all its prewar records; New Statutes were adopted and the Commissionís Headquarters were moved to Paris. "Interpol" was chosen as the telegraphic address of the headquarters.

Interpol flourished, and the number of affiliated countries increased from nineteen in 1946 to fifty-five in 1955. In 1956, a modern and complete constitution for the organization was ratified, under which the name of the organization was changed to the International Criminal Police Organization-Interpol, abbreviated ICPO-Interpol. In 1966, the Interpol General Secretariat moved to Saint Cloud, outside Paris. The Organization celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in its birthplace, Vienna, in 1973. The new Headquarters Agreement, signed with the French Government, came into force in 1984. The organization continued to progress, and, by the mid-1980ís, the number of affiliated countries had increased further to include more than 125 nations, representing all the continents of the world. On the 27th of November 1989, Interpolís new Headquarters building in Lyons was officially established. The number of Interpolís Member States reached 177 in 1997. In 1998, the organization celebrated seventy-five years of international police cooperation. At present, Interpol represents a cooperative association of more than 178 Member Nations and national law-enforcement agencies, (in which the United States is represented by an official of the Treasury Department).


D. Strengths and Weaknesses

Interpolís strengths are much more than its weaknesses. The backbone of Interpol and its near-solid infrastructure is the fact that it was established by European countries who were, at the time, and (most) still are, on good terms. They may be considered as "friends". This proves to be the most important aspect of Interpolís strength. The (almost) only possible, and certainly most probable, cause of Interpolís weakness(es) is the diversity of its Member States, their policies, their need for the organization, and the organizationís need for them. Furthermore, this diversity prevents minor conflicts and small glitches on the way to promoting justice in the world and ridding it of criminals.

One of Interpolís most attention-requiring weaknesses is the fact that it lacks the proper equipment and experience needed to combat crime on the Internet. Hackers, virus-producers, and other such net criminals have to be identified, located, charged, and arrested for criminal activities on the Internet. Even though Interpol is currently working on receiving help regarding this matter from Silicon Valley in California, USA, an Interpol committee that deals with such illegitimate Internet usage should have been formed a long time ago, when the Internet was introduced to the public for the very first time.

Interpolís strengths are uncountable, but the most important may be: forming an international network of well-trained police correspondents around the world, aiding both national and international police forces at times of need, dealing with a diverse variety of criminal activities: drugs, stolen artwork, and, recently, internet crimes. Interpol has so many strong points about it, there are just too many to list.


E. Budget Considerations

Financial control and the financial matters of Interpol are the responsibility of a Financial Controller, with the rank of Director, whose task is to prepare the budget and ensure that, once adopted, it is implemented in accordance with the Organizationís regulations and procedures. The General Assembly of Interpol adopts decisions regarding Interpolís budget and finances.

Interpolís financial resources mainly come from the annual contributions paid by the governments of its Member States, (in 1998, its global budget was 161 million French francs). These contributions are expressed in "budget units", and countries pay from 2 to 100 units a year. When a country joins Interpol, it submits a proposal to the Executive Committee indicating the number of budget units it is willing to pay every year. The value of the budget unit is fixed by the General Assembly, (in 1998, one budget unit had a value of FRF 75,700).

The Secretary General, who is responsible for implementing the budget with the assistance of the Financial Controller, is accountable to the Executive Committee and the General Assembly. The accounts and the Secretary Generalís management are monitored and assessed by external auditors nominated by the Executive Committee and appointed by the General Assembly for a period of three years.


F. Key Political Allies

Interpolís most obvious and cooperative allies are, evidently, western and mid-European countries. France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Greece, Germany. The organization is mostly dominated by Europeans. The United Statesí position of Interpol is avoidance. The US fears Interpolís Nazi past, for it was dominated by German Nazis before, during, and after World War II. Although the US is a major donor/contributor to Interpolís success, both financially and technically, the US seems to have no use for Interpol. Furthermore, Interpol has been known to be a failure at combating terrorism, amongst its members are countries that have officially been labeled as terrorist nations. Another significant reason as to why the US, (and the UK in a more silent manner), does not find Interpol an important organization, and is reluctant to cooperate is Interpolís "dramatic" failure in attempting to cope with drug trafficking; in fact, it been suspected of aiding in drug trafficking acts, particularly in South America. Interpolís other enemies, (or anti-allies), comprise mainly of international and national terrorists.


G. Bibliography

"International Police". New Standard Encyclopedia. Vol. 9. p. I-147. Ferguson Publishing Company. Chicago, USA: 1998.

"Interpol". Britannica Encyclopedia 1997. Encyclopedia Britannica Inc. 1997.

"Interpol". The Hutchinson Multimedia Encyclopedia 1996. Attica. Helicon. The United Kingdom: 1996.

"Interpol". New Standard Encyclopedia. Vol. 9. p. I-153. Ferguson Publishing Company. Chicago, USA: 1998. "Police: Police Work and Law Enforcement: International Organization". Britannica Encyclopedia 1997. Encyclopedia Britannica Inc. 1997.