How Interpol Works

Interpol History

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The International Criminal Police Commission (ICPC) formed in 1923. With headquarters in Vienna, Austria, the organization published a journal containing wanted notices for international criminals. World War II interrupted the growth if the ICPC -- the Nazis took control, deposed the current Secretary General and moved the headquarters to Berlin. Following the war, the organization was rebuilt and new headquarters were established in Paris. The group officially took the telegraph code name "Interpol," and adopted the colored notice system. The headquarters moved to Lyons in 1989. The 1990s and 2000s saw the rapid development and expansion of communications and database systems.

The official Interpol emblem is a globe, which is flanked by olive wreaths and a justice scale, in front of a sword, with the agency's initials at the top and the name Interpol along the bottom. The Interpol flag features the emblem on a white circle against a light blue background with white bolts of lightning pointing toward the corners, symbolizing the speed of communications accomplished by Interpol [Source: Interpol].

Interpol can boast success in several major cases. One of the 2004 Madrid train bombers was identified by cooperation between officials in Belgrade, Baghdad and Madrid using the I-24/7 system [Source: Interpol]. In 2005, an Interpol incident response team obtained and disseminated fingerprints and photographs of Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, one of the world's most wanted terrorists [Source: Interpol]. Interpol has worked with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to find and recover children who have been abducted across national borders [Source: Center for Missing and Exploited Children]. The organization's efforts were especially notable following the 2004 Tsunami, when incident response teams helped coordinate the many humanitarian and law-enforcement agencies involved. They also played a major role in victim identification.

In a 2005 speech, Interpol President (a position on the Executive Committee) Jackie Selebi provided a prime example of Interpol at work:

"Interpol success stories demonstrate the critical roles our different NCBs play in global police cooperation. For instance, a Serbian national, Milan Lukic, wanted by the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Serbia and Montenegro, for war crimes against Bosnian Muslims in 1992-94, was arrested in Buenos Aires last August 7, 2005. This could not have been possible without the close collaboration between ICTY, the Interpol General Secretariat, and the NCBs in Argentina and Chile. The true identity of Mr. Lukic, who was using a false name when accosted by the Argentinean authorities, was confirmed when his fingerprints were sent by NCB Buenos Aires to IPSG for immediate comparison and confirmation. This success story clearly demonstrates that our NCBs play a very key operational role in global police cooperation, and utilizing them to their fullest potential will make a difference in our fight against transnational crime and terrorism."  

[Source: Interpol]

For more information on Interpol, police agencies and related topics, check out the links below.

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More Great Links


  • Interpol - Official website.
  • National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. “International Abduction Success Stories.”