Legal materials

A guide to the legal aspects of international police cooperation through INTERPOL.

In order to effectively fulfil its cross-border activities, INTERPOL functions under international law. INTERPOL is recognized as an international organization by the United Nations and though its Headquarters agreements with France and other countries on whose territory it has premises.

The INTERPOL Constitution is an international agreement that confirms as members the governments of all those countries that participated in its adoption in 1956 and provides the application procedure for countries that were not members in 1956 to join INTERPOL.

As INTERPOL's main legal document, the Constitution outlines INTERPOL's aims and objectives. It establishes the mandate of the Organization to ensure the widest possible cooperation between all criminal police authorities and to suppress ordinary law crimes. 

It defines the structure of the Organization, defines the role of each body of INTERPOL, and provides for the budget and relations with other organizations.

Notably, the Constitution specifies that international police cooperation is to be conducted within the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. For example, this commitment to human rights is expressed through the Organization's cooperation with international courts and tribunals and through the careful processing of personal data.

On a similar theme, clear guidelines on neutrality have been laid out. It is strictly forbidden for INTERPOL to undertake any activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.

In addition to the Constitution, a number of fundamental texts make up INTERPOL's legal framework. These include:

  • The General Regulations;
  • Rules of the Procedure of the General Assembly;
  • Rules of the Procedure of the Executive Committee;
  • Financial regulations;
  • Rules governing the processing of information;
  • Rules on the Control of Information and access to INTERPOL's Files.

Several levels of control have been put in place in order to ensure compliance with the rules. These relate to controls by National Central Bureaus, by the General Secretariat and by the independent monitoring body known as the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL's Files.

Furthermore, the exchange of data between INTERPOL's member countries is carried out according to strict guidelines in order to ensure the legality and quality of information and the protection of personal data.

INTERPOL acknowledges the need to work in partnership with other organizations in order to combat international crime. As such, it has concluded a number of cooperation agreements with other international organizations, including the United Nations and the European Union.

Additionally, several international conventions and bilateral treaties mention INTERPOL as a means to transmit sensitive and confidential criminal intelligence.

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