International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL)
INTERPOL, headquartered in Lyon, France, was founded in 1923 as the International Criminal Commission. It has grown considerably from its original 14 founding countries − Austria, Belgium, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland and Yugoslavia − so that today it has a membership consisting of some 188 countries, employs a staff of nearly 600 and receives about 60 million euros in funding every year, 82% from member countries and the remainder from its initiatives, commercial ventures and/or foundations. INTERPOL is headquartered in Lyon, France, with seven regional offices, and representatives at both the UN and EU.
INTERPOL functions as a kind of liaison between law enforcement agencies of its member countries, mainly through maintaining a global database which helps to transcend language barriers between countries. The Interpol website states, "Our role is to enable police around the world to work together to make the world a safer place. Our high-tech infrastructure of technical and operational support helps meet the growing challenges of fighting crime in the 21st century." By its constitution, INTERPOL is strictly prohibited from becoming involved in "any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character."
INTERPOL's current Secretary-General is Ronald Noble, a former United States Under Secretary of the Treasury for Enforcement and its focus, Wikipedia informs us, is on "public safety, terrorism, organized crime, crimes against humanity, environmental crime, genocide, war crimes, piracy, illicit drug production, drug trafficking, weapons smuggling, human trafficking, money laundering, child pornography, white-collar crime, computer crime, intellectual property crime and corruption."
INTERPOL reports on its website that it receives an average of 2.2 million page visits every month. In 2008, INTERPOL helped arrest over 700 people. INTERPOL was spawned apparently − conceptually anyway − at the First International Criminal Police Congress in Monaco. Who had the idea for such a conference is another story.
Nonetheless, law enforcement from 14 countries met in Monaco to discuss ways to prosecute international criminals. World War I interfered, and an international organization finally was created in 1923 and named the "International Criminal Police (ICP)."
Perhaps predictably, Nazi Germany eventually became the power behind the organization and the Commission's headquarters ended up in Berlin. After the end of World War II, the organization was rehabilitated and rebranded. It became known as the International Criminal Police Organization and was moved to Saint-Cloud near Paris. In 1989, INTERPOL moved to Lyon.
INTERPOL has had its ups and down. In 2010, former president of the organization Jackie Selebi resigned and was found guilty of corruption. The South African High Court in Johannesburg convicted him of taking drug-trafficking bribes of some $156,000. The incident, however, received scant attention in the mainstream press.
INTERPOL desires to grow nonetheless. INTERPOL's Secretary General, Ronald K. Noble, recently called for standardization of electronic identification internationally to support "global security." This electronic document – administered, of course, by INTERPOL – would create a kind of universal passport that would allow travelers to go round the world using a single ID. What Noble didn't say, or at least wasn't reported by mainstream media, was that a single electronic ID requires, essentially, a single, searchable database comprising some seven billion people (everybody on the planet).