PRESS CONFERENCE ON UNITED NATIONS-INTERPOL COOPERATION
Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York
3 November 2005
The first year of Interpol’s efforts in New York had been marked by the establishment of systematic cooperation with the United Nations, correspondents were told at a Headquarters press conference by senior representatives of the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) and United Nations counter-terrorism bodies.
Describing cooperation between Interpol and the United Nations in the fight against terrorism and international crime, Ulrich Kersten, Interpol’s Special Representative to the United Nations, noted that while the two bodies were still at the beginning stages of the process, the United Nations had made plain its intention to continue to cooperate with Interpol.
Elaborating on the impetus for the decision to establish “dedicated” United Nations-Interpol cooperation, Ronald Noble, Interpol’s Secretary-General, explained that just over a year ago, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan had discussed the possibility of opening an Interpol office in New York. The discussion had been birthed out of Secretary-General Annan’s desire to ensure the safety of his staff.
In particular, he had been concerned about the possibility of people using false identity documents and stolen passports to access the United Nations premises, Mr. Noble continued. Responding to that request, Interpol had agreed to provide the United Nations with access to its stolen travel documents database. From that relationship grew the desire to explore practical ways that Interpol could assist in giving “teeth” to Security Council resolutions.
In relation to the 1267 Committee and its Consolidated List of Al-Qaida and Taliban members, he said that List only had real meaning if police and immigration officers could match names with faces. Interpol had a great amount of information to help do that. The 1993 bombing of New York’s World Trade Center, after all, had been committed by someone holding a stolen passport.
To further support that cooperation, he continued, the Interpol General Assembly approved a resolution in September, approving the creation of a new Interpol notice to alert the United Nations that certain individuals were the target of United Nations sanctions. The first United Nations notice had been a historic moment for the two organizations, which remained distinct, yet shared the common goal of keeping all people safe from the threat of terrorism.
[Established by Security Council resolution 1267 (1999), the Al-Qaida/Taliban Sanctions Committee monitors implementation by States of sanctions against Al-Qaida and the Taliban and their associates. Those sanctions consist of a freeze of assets, a travel ban and an arms embargo. The Committee established a consolidated list of members and associates and is supported by a monitoring group of eight experts.
The Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) was established by Council resolution 1373 in the wake of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks with the goal of increasing the capability of States to fight terrorism. Resolution 1535 (2004) established the CTC Executive Directorate to enhance the Committee’s ability to monitor the implementation of resolution 1373.]
Outlining cooperation between Interpol and the Counter-Terrorism Committee’s Executive Directorate, the latter’s Director, Howard Stoffer, noted that the Executive Directorate, which had become fully operational in September this year, had started out as a child of Council resolution 1535 (2004), which aimed to revitalize the staff of the Counter-Terrorism Committee. Interpol had participated in the all four of the Directorate’s country visits this year to Morocco, Kenya, Albania and Thailand.
Between November 2005 and February 2006, he continued, the Directorate would be visiting Algeria, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the United Republic of Tanzania and the Philippines. Working with interior officials and experts in the various countries, the Directorate was able to determine their technical needs. Interpol’s assistance in that regard was essential. As the Directorate moved forward in its work, he hoped it would have an even more robust plan to visit States.
The real challenge of any sanctions regime was to make it work, Richard Barrett, Coordinator of the 1267 Committee Monitoring Team explained. The problem with the 1267 sanctions regime was that the people on the Consolidated List made every effort to conceal their identities. There was a need to ensure, therefore, that the List was widely distributed to the people most likely to encounter them, namely police and law enforcement agencies. In that regard, effective cooperation between the 1267 Committee and Interpol had made it easier for States to ensure distribution of the Consolidated List.
Noting that the Monitoring Team had been working with Interpol representatives for almost a year, he said there had been a tremendous spirit of cooperation and enthusiasm between the two. A “can-do” positive attitude had prevailed in their interactions.
Enhanced cooperation with the United Nations provided Interpol with a great opportunity to assess the needs and capabilities of national police services, Mr. Kersten added.
Describing cooperation between the United Nations and Interpol, Mr. Kersten, who served as the President of the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA) German Federal Criminal Police for eight years, said there had been a huge interest on the part of the United Nations to interact with Interpol. The dedicated cooperation between the two was also reflected by Council resolution 1617, adopted in July 2005. By adopting that resolution, the Council urged Member States to share information through the Interpol database of lost and stolen travel documents.
The United Nations and Interpol also cooperated in the area of illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, he said. With some 600 million such weapons in circulation worldwide, responsible for over half a million deaths each year, that issue was a threat for many countries around the world. In that regard, Interpol had participated in negotiations on an instrument to trace small arms and light weapons, which had recently been adopted by the General Assembly.
Other areas of involvement included Interpol cooperation with civilian police components of peacekeeping operations, he said. Interpol, together with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, was exploring the possibility of placing its information and computer technology at the disposal of civilian police entities in the various peacekeeping operations, especially if they had investigative powers.
Interpol had also supported the United Nations Independent Investigation Commission into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, he added.
Asked whether United Nations sanctions worked, Mr. Barrett said it was hard to judge. A great amount of money had been frozen and people on the Al-Qaida/Taliban List might have been deterred from travelling. It would also be difficult for someone on the List to buy arms through legitimate arms markets. The availability of explosives, as everyone knew, however, was pretty wide. Sanctions regimes tried to bear down on terrorists and limit their scope. They also represented a valuable international expression of condemnation of people on the List.
Asked to elaborate on the List, Mr. Noble said that in working with the monitoring team, Interpol took names on the List and ran them against the names in its database. A number of matches had been found, making it possible to build profiles around the names on the List. From that started the idea of a United Nations notice of people on the Consolidated List.
What was Interpol’s view on the issue of torture as a means of investigation and had it received information from countries that admit to using torture? a correspondent asked.
Responding, Mr. Noble said Interpol stressed the need to respect the Vienna Convention on the issue of torture. It required that its information be gathered in keeping with the rule of law. For that purpose, Interpol had an independent board on data protection to respond to allegations of torture.
Mr. Stoffer added that while the Executive Directorate did not enforce human rights law, the human rights component was an important part of that body’s work. In terms of State visits, reporting and police institutions, the Counter-Terrorism Committee and the Executive Directorate stressed the importance of avoiding measures that would violate international human rights norms.
Asked to describe its cooperation with the investigation of the “oil-for-food” programme, Mr. Kersten said Interpol had provided three or four police officers to assist the Volcker inquiry.
Interpol was also involved in the fight against human trafficking, he said, in response to another question. Specifically, it was involved in information gathering and assessment and had developed a special investigation guide for trafficking cases, which had been provided to member countries requiring assistance.
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For information media • not an official record
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