International policing at the crossroads of health and security

20 May 2020
INTERPOL gathers regional policing bodies to discuss COVID-19 security challenges

LYON, France – Leaders of the world’s regional police organizations came together in a virtual meeting hosted by INTERPOL to address the challenges to global policing posed by COVID-19 and reaffirm the importance of multilateral cooperation during times of emergency.

The fourth edition of the ‘INTERPOL Dialogue on an effective multilateral policing architecture against global threats’ saw fruitful discussions amongst the participating organizations on how COVID-19 is affecting the security landscape.

A global threat assessment issued by INTERPOL in April outlined the ‘crime lifecycle’ linked to COVID-19, as well as best practices and measures to mitigate the effects of these crimes, which were discussed during the virtual ‘Dialogue’ meeting.


While cybercrime and cyber-enabled crimes have received widespread attention, the pandemic has also been exploited by terrorists and organized crime groups.

With mafia organizations already invested in essential activities such as the agro-food sector, road transport, cleaning services and waste disposal, the increased likelihood of their further infiltrating the legitimate economy is a significant threat.

In addition, when life-saving products or a vaccine are available, demand will soar resulting in a parallel increase in theft and counterfeiting of these important medicines.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated there is a clear nexus between global heath and global security. The need for law enforcement cooperation to keep pace with these evolving and unexpected threats has never been greater,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock.

“Through efforts such as the Dialogue which promote knowledge exchange and continuous discourse on a global level, we can present a united front against the changing security landscape,” concluded the INTERPOL Chief.

Due to the inherent cross-border nature of the changing criminal threats arising from the virus outbreak and related control measures, the participants reaffirmed the importance of multilateral law enforcement cooperation as critical in times of emergency.

A joint declaration endorsed by the participating organizations set out a roadmap for coordinating the exchange of information on COVID-19 related threats and the strategic and operational challenges posed by the outbreak. Opportunities for enhanced collaboration following the end of the outbreak were also defined.  

Organizations participating in the one-day (20 May) meeting included AFRIPOL, Ameripol, the Arab Interior Ministers’ Council, ASEANAPOL, the Economic Cooperation Organization, Europol, Frontex (the European Border and Coast Guard Agency), the Gulf Cooperation Council-POL and INTERPOL.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) also took part in the meeting as observers.