INTERPOL, short for the International Criminal Police Organization, is an intergovernmental organization with 195 member countries. It facilitates collaboration among law enforcement agencies worldwide, enhancing global security. INTERPOL enables police to share data and information, providing operational and technical support. Its headquarters is in Lyon, France, and it is the only global police organization.

Organization and Functions

INTERPOL focuses on three categories of international crime:

  1. Counterterrorism: Assisting member countries in identifying and disrupting terrorist individuals or networks.
  2. Organized and emerging crime: Targeting international criminal gangs and addressing threats like human trafficking.
  3. Cybercrime: Protecting cyberspace through prevention and investigative support for cyberattacks.

INTERPOL is a global organization that facilitates police cooperation across countries, regardless of diplomatic relations. Its actions are politically neutral and comply with member countries’ laws.

Each member state has a National Central Bureau, simplifying communication between law enforcement agencies and the General Secretariat or other foreign police forces.

Interpol – Structure

INTERPOL’s administrative structure, as defined in its Constitution, comprises:

  • General Assembly
  • General Secretariat
  • Executive Committee
  • National Central Bureaus

The General Assembly and Executive Committee are the governing bodies of the organization.

General Assembly

The General Assembly plays a vital role in INTERPOL’s operations, making key decisions on procedures, policies, funding, resources, and initiatives. It convenes annually, with representatives from member countries, typically heads of law enforcement agencies, in attendance. These representatives also elect members of the INTERPOL Executive Committee, responsible for providing guidance between Assembly sessions.

Executive Committee

The Executive Committee, chosen by the General Assembly, comprises 13 members:

  • One President
  • Three Vice Presidents
  • Nine Delegates representing four regions

General Secretariat

The General Secretariat operates 24/7 year-round with six regional offices in:

  • Argentina (South America)
  • Côte d’Ivoire (West Africa)
  • El Salvador (Central America)
  • Kenya (East Africa)
  • Thailand (South East Asia)
  • Zimbabwe (Africa)

The General Secretariat is headquartered in Lyon, France, with a liaison office in New York, United States.

History of INTERPOL

INTERPOL traces its origins to the International Criminal Police Congress in Monaco in 1914, although its establishment was postponed due to World War I. It was officially founded during the second International Criminal Police Congress in Vienna, Austria, in 1923, led by Dr. Schober, President of the Vienna police, with representatives from 19 member countries present.

The ICPC aimed to facilitate mutual assistance among international criminal police commissions, covering areas such as international arrests, extradition (except for non-extradition countries), fingerprinting techniques, and common languages. These principles remain in use today.

What does INTERPOL do?

The General Secretariat manages INTERPOL’s daily operations, providing expertise and services to member states. INTERPOL maintains real-time international police databases containing crime-related data accessible to member states.

INTERPOL supports locating criminals globally, requiring well-trained staff due to evolving crime trends.

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Interpol Lawyer Dmytro Konovalenko
Dmytro Konovalenko
Senior Partner
Lawyer specializing in extradition and Interpol cases, with membership in the International Bar Association. In five years of practice, Dmitry has defended clients against persecution by law enforcement agencies in the United States, Russia, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Russia and other countries. He has successfully applied measures to prevent a manhunt at early stages and specializes in defending in complex cases involving economic, political and military charges.


Frequently Asked Questions

Who controls INTERPOL?
The General Secretariat oversees daily operations, while a Secretary General leads. The President, elected by the General Assembly, holds the highest authority. The General Assembly convenes annually with one delegate from each member state.
What kind of police is INTERPOL?
INTERPOL, comprising international police from 195 member countries, cooperates to combat international crime. It facilitates cross-border police collaboration to apprehend criminal gangs involved in various major crimes, including human trafficking, cyberattacks, and money laundering.
What Is Interpol's Main Purpose?
INTERPOL, founded in 1923, is the world's largest police organization with 195 member states. It facilitates cross-border police cooperation and assists local authorities in preventing and combating international crime.
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