Ronald K. Noble
Secretary General 2000-2014
First elected on 3 November 2000 Mr Noble became at the age of 44 the youngest Secretary General in INTERPOL’s history. Following two re-elections in 2005 and 2010 he stepped down from the post on 7 November 2014.
Prior to serving as INTERPOL's Secretary General, Mr Noble oversaw four of the US’s largest law enforcement agencies, including the US Secret Service, the US Customs Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division.
Mr Noble, a fully tenured Professor at New York University School of Law, began his career in law enforcement as a federal prosecutor specializing in organized crime, drug trafficking, fraud and corruption cases.
The initiatives below were carried out under the leadership of Ronald K. Noble during his tenure as INTERPOL Secretary General from 2000 to 2014.
Strengthening INTERPOL’s response to terrorism
The attacks in the USA of 11 September 2001 marked the dawning of a new era of global terrorism. In the wake of these attacks, Mr Noble saw the need for INTERPOL to modernize its tools and services and to operate on a 24/7 basis. Mr Noble set up the Command and Coordination Centre (CCC) at the General Secretariat in Lyon, France, to provide round-the-clock assistance to member countries. Ten years later, in 2011, the CCC was bolstered by a second operations room in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with a third site due to open in Singapore in 2015.
The Fusion Task Force, established in 2002, offers practical tools to member countries in the fight against terror and extremism. By 2014, the Fusion Task Force database contained details of more than 8,000 individuals suspected of terrorism, with data contributed by 167 member countries.
Created in 2005, the INTERPOL-United Nations Security Council Special Notice alerts law enforcement agencies worldwide to individuals or entities who are subject to UN sanctions such as asset freezes, travel bans or arms embargoes. The Special Notice combines the UN sanctions regime with INTERPOL’s well-established notice system into an effective global law enforcement tool.
Supporting police in the field
Under Mr Noble’s leadership, INTERPOL became more operational, deploying response teams to assist national police forces in the field. At the request of member countries, teams of experts can provide support with security arrangements for major events, crisis response, and the identification of victims of disasters.
In 2002, the first INTERPOL Major Events Support Team (IMEST) was deployed to the USA to assist with security arrangements for the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.
The first INTERPOL Incident Response Team (IRT) was also dispatched in 2002 to investigate a bombing incident in Bali, Indonesia.
Following the Asian Tsunami of December 2004, INTERPOL launched its largest-ever IRT and coordinated the international Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) response under INTERPOL’s globally accepted standards. This deployment took INTERPOL into new territory, beyond its traditional crime-fighting role. The team withdrew in February 2006, by which point, more than 3,000 of the 3,750 victims recorded at the centre in Thailand had been identified. By the time Mr Noble stepped down as Secretary General, some 100 IMESTS and 100 IRTs had been deployed across all regions of the world.
Improving the exchange of data
When he took up office, Mr Noble realized that instant, secure communications, along with revitalized databases and tools, were essential in order to improve the effectiveness of international policing.
I-24/7, a secure global internet-based communications system, was launched in 2003 to enable member countries to contact each other and the General Secretariat at any time. It provides the network through which member countries can connect to INTERPOL’s databases and share intelligence and data.
Since its inception in 2002, the Stolen and Lost Travel Documents database has helped countries to secure their borders and prevent criminals from moving freely between jurisdictions. A search takes less than a second to reveal whether a document is listed on the database. In 2014, the test phase of the I-Checkit project was launched, enabling the private sector to screen documents against the database.
In order to boost the exchange and comparison of forensic data, INTERPOL created the DNA Gateway in 2002. By 2014, some 180 countries used the database, with searches resulting in more than 1,600 matches in 2014 alone. The rapid expansion of this resource demonstrates the integral role it serves to member countries.
The colour-coded system of Notices was extended in 2004 with the addition of the Orange Notice. This alerts police worldwide to an event, a person, an object or a process that represents a serious and imminent threat to public safety.
Reinforcing the role of member countries
Mr Noble placed great importance on the activities and experiences of INTERPOL member countries. During his tenure, INTERPOL expanded to include 13 new member countries.
Mr Noble made it his mission to visit all INTERPOL member countries to see their needs first-hand in order to build stronger collaboration. Starting with Spain in November 2000, he visited Iceland – the 190th and final member country – in October 2014.
In Mr Noble’s final year at INTERPOL, the Heads of the National Central Bureaus (NCBs) held their 10th annual conference. Mr Noble was the driving force behind the creation of this conference, which allows the Heads of NCBs to come together to discuss common challenges and to ensure the work of the NCBs is at the core of INTERPOL actions.
Bolstering operational support
As well as improving systems and data, Mr Noble promoted a more active role for INTERPOL in terms of supporting police around the world with operations in the field.
In 2007, Mr Noble took the decision to launch Operation Vico, INTERPOL’s first ever public appeal for information, after police channels had failed to identify a man featured in child sex abuse images on the Internet. Within hours of the man's photo being published on INTERPOL's website, members of the public on three continents named him as a Canadian national working in Korea. With police closing in, the suspect fled to Thailand, where he was arrested 11 days later.
INTERPOL’s ability to provide neutral, expert law enforcement assistance was demonstrated in 2008, following a request from Colombia. INTERPOL was asked to carry out an independent forensic analysis of computers and hardware seized during a raid on a Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) camp in Ecuador. The aim was to determine whether the equipment had been handled in accordance with international procedures and could therefore be used as evidence in legal proceedings.
During his final weeks in office, Mr Noble was presented with the keys for the INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation building in Singapore. This is the culmination of Mr Noble’s vision for a cutting-edge research and development facility for the identification of crimes and criminals. This new facility will focus on cybercrime, digital security and capacity building, and will house the third operations room of the Command and Coordination Centre, thereby strengthening INTERPOL’s global presence.