History of Interpol and its main purpose

Interpol, short for the International Criminal Police Organization, stands as an emblem of international cooperation in the realm of law enforcement. Established in 1923, Interpol has evolved into a vital global platform, facilitating collaboration among police organizations from across the world. In this article, we will delve into the history, location, creation, and main purpose of Interpol, illuminating its indispensable role in maintaining global security and justice.

Establishment and Headquarters

Interpol was established on September 7, 1923, in Vienna, Austria, making it the world’s largest international police organization with 194 member countries today. Originally known as the International Criminal Police Commission, it adopted its current name, Interpol, in 1956. Since its inception, Interpol has grown and expanded its reach, establishing regional bureaus and liaison offices around the world.

Interpol’s headquarters are situated in Lyon, France. The decision to relocate the organization’s central hub from Vienna to Lyon was made in 1989. The move to Lyon was strategic, as it enabled Interpol to be closer to other international organizations engaged in the fight against organized crime and terrorism. Lyon’s central location in Europe also facilitates efficient communication and coordination with member countries.

Creation and Objectives

Interpol was created with the vision of fostering global police cooperation and ensuring effective international law enforcement. Its primary objective is to promote the widest possible exchange of criminal intelligence and facilitate police cooperation on a global scale.

The organization was formed in response to the growing need for international collaboration in apprehending criminals who transcend national boundaries. Interpol aims to assist member countries in preventing and combating cross-border crime, ensuring that no country becomes a safe haven for criminals seeking refuge from justice.

The Main Purpose of Interpol

The main purpose of Interpol is to enhance international police cooperation to combat crime effectively. This is achieved through a range of activities, including:

  1. Facilitating Information Exchange: Interpol acts as a centralized hub for member countries to exchange vital information on wanted persons, criminal activities, and modus operandi. Through its secure communication channels, member countries can quickly disseminate and access critical intelligence.
  2. Supporting Investigations: Interpol provides investigative support to member countries by coordinating joint operations, organizing specialized training, and offering technical expertise. This support helps enhance the capacity of national law enforcement agencies to tackle global organized crime.
  3. Assisting in Fugitive Locating and Extradition: Interpol issues Red Notices, which are international arrest warrants, to help member countries locate and apprehend wanted individuals. It also aids in facilitating extradition requests, ensuring that fugitives are brought to justice across borders.
  4. Promoting Operational Cooperation: Interpol encourages police agencies to work together through joint operations, task forces, and sharing best practices. These collaborative efforts strengthen law enforcement capabilities globally and deter criminal activity.
  5. Developing Global Databases: Interpol manages various databases containing information on stolen vehicles, travel documents, fingerprints, DNA profiles, and more. These databases provide an indispensable tool for law enforcement agencies in their efforts to prevent and solve crimes.


Interpol has played a vital role in the fight against international crime, ensuring that law enforcement agencies can collaborate effectively in an increasingly interconnected world. The organization’s establishment, relocation to Lyon, and its core objectives have all contributed to its success. Through its dedication to information sharing, operational cooperation, and promoting global justice, Interpol remains at the forefront of international law enforcement, striving to create a safer world for all.

Iryna Berenstein
Associated Partner
Mrs. Berenstein is a distinguished and outstanding lawyer with profound experience and exceptional legal knowledge in the field of International Private Law, Financial Law, Corporate Law, investment regulation, Compliance, Data Protection, and Reputation Management.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is INTERPOL main goal?
As the sole global police organization, INTERPOL's unique role is to facilitate collaboration among law enforcement in its 195 member countries, shaping the future of international policing to enhance global safety.
What is the story of INTERPOL?
Established in 1923 by 20 countries, INTERPOL was created to enhance cross-border police cooperation, a need that remains vital in today's changing world.
What does the head of Interpol do?
INTERPOL, established to facilitate global police communication in tackling international crime, plays a key role in combating international crime syndicates. The President of INTERPOL, akin to a global Chief of Police, ensures adherence to policies and procedures. INTERPOL deviated from its mission briefly after 1938 when it was based in Vienna during the Anschluss and came under Nazi control. Post-WWII, the organization returned to its original mission and does not recognize Nazi leaders in its historical record of Presidents.