Article 3 of Interpol's Constitution: Balancing International Police Cooperation with the Prohibition on Engaging in Political, Military, Religious, or Racial Activities
53 Pages Posted: 15 Sep 2013 Last revised: 16 Sep 2013
Date Written: January 1, 2011
The article concerns the interpretation and application of Article 3 of Interpol's Constitution, according to which "[i]t is strictly forbidden for the Organization to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character."
The article analyzes the developments concerning the application of Article 3, and the various considerations pertinent to its interpretation. While Article 3 applies to all Interpol activities, in practice it has been particularly relevant to Interpol's activities in two domains: first, in the field of processing of information related to police work via Interpol's channels; and secondly, in the context of cooperation with other international entities.
The article concludes that Article 3 has assumed a prominent place in Interpol's legal scheme and practice, both in defining the scope and nature of Interpol's activities and in shaping the very character of the Organization. Moreover, Article 3 serves as a fascinating example of a norm developed through the practice of an international organization, based on the interrelation between the Organization's internal legal regime and principles of international law.
While the prohibition embodied in Article 3 appears to limit Interpol's potential scope of activities, it in fact supports the very purpose of the Organization. Indeed, only by avoiding engagement in certain matters, notably those of political character; by maintaining a position of neutrality; and by focusing on combating ordinary law crime, can Interpol promote international police cooperation among countries that have very different political structures, legal regimes, and cultures.
Keywords: police cooperation, INTERPOL, political offence, maritime piracy
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