ST. PETERSBURG, Russia – INTERPOL’s 77th General Assembly opened with a call for member countries to jointly build sustainable police capacity in order to strengthen international policing across its collective membership, which today grew to 187 after delegates at the annual meeting voted to admit the Vatican City State to the world’s largest police organization.
The four-day meeting, which with more than 700 law enforcement delegates and security experts from 153 member countries is the most ever attended INTERPOL General Assembly, will focus on enhancing INTERPOL’s investigative and operational capacities as well as the technical capacities of member countries’ police forces and National Central Bureaus (NCBs) to strengthen the ability of frontline police to fight transnational crime, in particular terrorism, online child abuse, drugs and cyber-crime, and enhance co-operation on fugitive investigations.
Crucially, it will also seek to confirm INTERPOL’s role as a model for sustainable law enforcement capabilities by adopting its Global Security Initiative (GSI) as a platform for integrated 21st century global policing through strategic partnerships, following INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble’s call on the international community and the private sector in his opening address to embrace the GSI fund and endow it with one billion Euros.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin – the first head of government to address an INTERPOL General Assembly since 1995 – underlined the need for international police co-operation by working with the world’s largest police organization when he said it was not possible to combat transnational crime without institutions such as INTERPOL.
“Russia has always urged the international community to join forces in fighting crime, because only by working together will we tackle crime,” he said. "We intend to strengthen our contacts and support international initiatives in the context of INTERPOL", said Mr Putin, referring to projects to install information technology, create databases and train senior staff.
“To punish any offender you must not only love your profession, but the people for whose benefit and protection you dedicate your work to,” Prime Minister Putin told the assembled law enforcement delegates.
INTERPOL Senior Vice-President Arturo Herrera Verdugo said that a united, co-ordinated police community was the best tool with which to confront the ‘globalization’ of crime and called on member states to increase their collective efforts.
“Our institution is fundamental for international security. In the 21st century, INTERPOL will face unavoidable challenges,” he said. “We must now consolidate our strategic processes in support of the law enforcement officers who are active in the field – each and every day, they are our first line of defense against crime and terrorism.”
Welcoming the opportunity for Russia to host INTERPOL’s General Assembly on the anniversary of its 85th year, Russian Interior Minister Rushid Nurgaliev said that INTERPOL was the most effective channel for the exchange of police information and provided an effective mechanism to combat emerging threats and criminal activity.
“In order for us to maintain this effectiveness, it is vital that we ensure that our police officers receive the specialist training they require and we need to continue developing and sharing our law enforcement expertise.”
Delegates at the General Assembly will also review current projects targeting transnational criminal networks, as well as INTERPOL’s involvement in major international events and incidents such as the Olympic Games in Beijing for which INTERPOL provided operational support and its assistance to the Philippine Government to identify the hundreds of victims who perished in the ferry disaster in June.