Given the strong overlap between INTERPOL’s expertise and the work of the United Nations (UN), the cooperation between the organizations over time has become formidable. Today, the UN is one of INTERPOL’s most valued partners.
INTERPOL and the UN work so closely together that in 1996 the UN General Assembly granted INTERPOL observer status, which allows INTERPOL to participate in certain aspects of the day-to-day work of the UN.
To strengthen their cooperation, in 1997, the organizations entered into an agreement to cooperate and now work together in several broad areas including:
- Responding to international needs related to national and transnational crime;
- Preventing crime through police training and public awareness;
- Assisting states in combating organized crime;
- Cooperating with international courts;
- Cooperating with police-related work in peacekeeping;
- Assisting UN Security Council Committees in implementing their mandates.
Special Representative of INTERPOL to the UN
In 2004, INTERPOL opened the Office of the Special Representative of INTERPOL to the United Nations, in New York. This has strengthened the relationship and streamlined the work between the two organizations.
The Special Representative heads the Office and is supported by a staff with law enforcement and legal expertise. The Office represents INTERPOL and the needs of law enforcement at the UN, and liaises with the UN in areas of mutual interest – in particular, those outlined below.
INTERPOL-UN Security Council Special Notice
The UN Security Council has several sanctions committees that oversee the implementation of mandatory sanctions.
These sanctions can be issued against an individual or an entity and take the form of an assets freeze, travel ban and/or arms embargo.
In 2005, INTERPOL in cooperation with the UN created the INTERPOL-United Nations Security Council Special Notice (Special Notice). Circulated to all INTERPOL member countries, the Special Notice alerts law enforcement authorities to entities and individuals that are the subject of UN sanctions.
Following the attacks of 11 September 2001, the UN Security Council established the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC). INTERPOL participates in the CTC’s counter-terrorism work in New York and around the world.
INTERPOL participates actively in the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF). This was created in 2005 to better coordinate the work between the various UN entities, as well as the UN’s collaboration with regional and international organizations in fighting terrorism. INTERPOL is a lead entity in its working groups for certain topics.
The UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (Global Strategy), adopted in 2006, encourages UN Member States to use INTERPOL’s information and communications tools and services, particularly the Stolen and Lost Travel Documents database.
INTERPOL and UN peacekeeping
The UN has for a long time deployed police officers to its peacekeeping missions. INTERPOL works with the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) to strengthen the role of police in peacekeeping operations.
In 2009, INTERPOL co-organized with DPKO the first-ever Ministerial Meeting on Police in Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding operations. The meeting resulted in the adoption of an Outcome Declaration calling for an international policing doctrine in post-conflict environments.
There are ongoing discussions concerning joint projects to implement the “Action Plan for International Police Peacekeeping” adopted during the 79th session of the INTERPOL General Assembly (Doha, November 2010).
INTERPOL has also established close relations with the DPKO’s Police Division (UNPOL) and attends its monthly briefings. Projects of mutual interest include the West African Coast Initiative (WACI) led by United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
UN Department of Safety and Security (DSS)
INTERPOL has partnered with DSS on several security projects, specifically the sharing of threat and risk assessments, an exchange of analysts and the provision of training by INTERPOL staff to DSS employees.
Recently, INTERPOL and DSS jointly launched a project to protect against the unauthorized use of lost or stolen UN Laissez-Passers, which are travel documents issued by the UN to its officials.
The INTERPOL Maritime Piracy Task Force works in close cooperation with the UN and others to improve evidence collection, facilitate the exchange of data and build regional capacity.
These efforts have been recognized by the UN Security Council in resolutions 1950 (2010) and 1976 (2011).
INTERPOL participates in the United Nations Sub Working Group on piracy (SWGP) and has contributed to a large number of UN reports on piracy. INTERPOL also participates in plenary sessions of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS).
UN audit and internal investigations
INTERPOL liaises with its National Central Bureaus to assist UN entities on issues relating to UN internal investigations. Such entities include the:
- Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS);
- Office of Audit and Investigation of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP-OAI) – with whom INTERPOL signed a Memorandum of Understanding in August 2011;
- United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Types of assistance range from verification of information using INTERPOL’s databases to facilitating contact and collaboration with national law enforcement agencies.
The UN has several specialized tribunals that seek to bring to justice perpetrators of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. INTERPOL works with four such UN tribunals:
- International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY);
- International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR);
- Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL);
- Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL).
These tribunals have been granted the right to request INTERPOL Red Notices for individuals against whom the tribunal has issued an arrest warrant, in order to seek their provisional arrest with a view to extradition.
Cooperation with other UN offices and specialized agencies
INTERPOL also cooperates with other UN offices and specialized agencies, including the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Types of collaboration include joint projects to increase access to INTERPOL’s databases, joint training and capacity building initiatives, and other coordination work.