Policing the World without a World Police. Assessing the Conditions of International Police Cooperation

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2010

22 Pages, Grade: 2.0

Ron Böhler (Author)


1 Introduction ...
2 - 3
2 State of Research ...
2.1 Theories of International Cooperation ...
4 - 5
2.2 The Object of Investigation: The ICPO - Interpol ...
5 - 6
3 Theoretical Framework & Hypotheses Generation ...
3.1 The Dependent Variable ...
6 - 7
3.2 Explanatory Independent Variables ...
7 - 10
4 Methodology ...
4.1 Fuzzy Set Qualitative Comparative Research (fsQCA) ...
11 - 13
4.2 Operationalization of (in)dependent variables ...
13 - 15
4.3 Case Selection ...
15 - 16
5 Conclusion ...
6 Bibliography ...
18 - 21

1 Introduction
In a speech in 2006, the Secretary General of the International Criminal Police
Organization (ICPO) referred to Interpol as `the world's largest international police
organization, the world's only global police organization, and the world's most
effective international police body'.
With 188 member countries the ICPO is the
second largest international organization after the United Nations
, based on
intergovernmental cooperation between domestic law enforcement services, the so
called National Central Bureaus (NCB). In times when transnational (organized)
crime and terrorism increase exceedingly through globalization and the
internationalization of transportation and communication systems as well as
international trade (e.g., Balzer 1996; Andreas and Nadelmann 2006: 210-222; Narr
2001: 26-30), the global role of Interpol and the need to react rapidly and effectively
emerge as well. Whenever two or more countries are involved in a criminal act, it is a
matter of the International Criminal Police Organization.
National police agencies adopt a double role: As a states executive branch
they are not fully independent from political interventions. The national justice
system and the securing of civil society are subjects to the state in order to control
social violence and destruction, and to protect the citizens from victimization in the
domestic arena. In short: It is a matter of state sovereignty. Related to the
international level and the membership in Interpol, the police can instead not be
equated with national governments. The NCBs are the `key element[s] in the day-to-
day performance of the tasks identified with Interpol´ (Fooner 1989: 117) and are
consequently political actors in international relations.
Since its reestablishment after World War II, the ICPO emerged as a global
network that is unique without controversy, but which was also often criticized for
being inefficient, out-dated and slow (Andreas and Nadelmann 2006: 100; Das and
Kratcoski 1999). After decades of steady growth, the ICPO in 2003 installed a new
global communication network called I-24/7 to remedy the obstacles. It gives each
NCB the possibility to connect to the Interpol Headquarters as well as to any other
national NCB in the world. This system ­ the last country to adopt has been Somalia
Speech by Interpol Secretary General Ronald K. Noble, European Regional Conference (extraordinary session), Lyon, France,
June 07, 2006, available at http://www.interpol.int/public/ICPO/speeches/SG20060607.asp, accessed April 10, 2010.
Deflem does not inappropriately point out that Interpol is only in terms of the number of member countries such a large
organization. (Deflem 2009: 181)

in 2007
- guarantees secure and quick access to Interpol databases including
information on suspected terrorists and wanted criminals, lost or stolen travel
documents, vehicles and art, images of child sexual abuse and human trafficking, etc.
NCBs are enabled to request and submit information as well as to search and cross-
check data within seconds, either at national border controls or by police officers in
the field. (Interpol 2009)
Although 188 countries of different political constitution and varying
historical and socio-economic backgrounds are official members of the ICPO, this is
not a guarantee for real and effective cooperation taking place between national police
forces. Interpol´s legal basis and its internal proceedings provide broad room for
maneuver and autonomy of decision. In the end it depends on each state if, when and
how he is willing to cooperate, e.g. by providing sensitive data of own nationals.
The affiliate research question thus is formulated as follows: What conditions
shape closer cooperation in global law enforcement within the International
Criminal Police Organization (ICPO) - Interpol?
The research project shall test the degree of participation of fifteen selected countries
within the scope of intergovernmental cooperation and thus necessary and sufficient
conditions. The effect is twofold: Inhibiting variables of closer global law
enforcement will be identified and practical instructions for action to bypass obstacles
could be given. Second, the study could serve as a proof of alternative, even more
efficient forms of international coordination and collaboration ­ at least beyond akin
states, but maybe even beyond the nation state as the classic actor in international
In the following I will first of all provide an overview of the state of research
on international cooperation in general and on Interpol as the `playground´ of global
law enforcement in particular. I will then model potential explanatory variables
shaping the degree of countries´ participation within the structures and resources of
the ICPO and operationalize them. The aim is to investigate which variables
constitute necessary and which sufficient conditions towards the level of global police
http://www.interpol.int/Public/ICPO/corefunctions/securecom.asp, accessed April 10, 2010.
Although not representing the nation state as a whole national police forces and NCBs in scientific literature are often treated
as being similar to the state. For the sake of simplicity I will use both as equivalent, although the priority of the NCB is

cooperation. Therefore I will use a fuzzy set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA)
to test a series of hypotheses on the cases in the period between 2005 and 2009.
2 State of Research
2.1 Theories of International Cooperation
`Under which conditions will cooperation emerge in a world of egoists without
central authority?´ (Axelrod 1984: 3) To what Axelrod refers here is a central issue of
international politics known as the security dilemma: nation states challenge the
security of other countries to seek their own security. This assumption is conventional
realism based on the premise of a world of states under anarchy. (e.g., Oye 1986,
Schimmelfennig 2008) Interpol is an organization without any supranational
governance and the question remains why national police agencies as the right arm of
their governments would cooperate instead of shutting themselves off? One reason
may be that transnational crime is not any more a threat caused between states, but
which concerns every country equally through mutual dependence. (Schimmelfennig
2008: 89-113) Another reason might be that the state does neither formally nor
practically cooperate in Interpol itself, as the real members are their NCBs.
The description of the ICPO as an international organization is suggestive of
the immediate vicinity to institutionalism theory. I consider that to be untrue.
Institutionalism as well assumes nation states to be the key actors in international
relations forming regimes of binding systems of rules to all member countries in order
to assure international security. (ibid.) If we would try to explain international police
cooperation solely with such a state-centered framework, we would soon be at a loss
to explain even Interpol´s formal character and not at least the successful day-to-day
The mentioned shortcomings are resolved by a related theory that gained more
and more attention since Karl Deutsch published his important book `Political
Community in the North Atlantic Area (1957) and which separated from the realistic
approach of institutionalism: transnationalism. This theory is based on the major
findings of growing interdependence in world politics since World War II. Keohane
and Nye defined interdependence simply as mutual dependence `characterized by
reciprocal effects among countries or among actors in different countries.´ (Keohane
and Nye 1977: 8) Such constraints and costs in matters of this design are among
others illegal migration, economic losses through transnational organized crime, but
even more important the threat of civil society from criminals and the safety hazard of

states as a whole from international terrorism. Schimmelfennig (2008: 112) instead
argues the other way around: The more transnational relations are interdependent and
institutionalized the more likely peace as well as further and deepening international
cooperation is about to occur.
2.2 The Object of Investigation: The ICPO - Interpol
The former Secretary General of the ICPO in 1999 stated that the organization
would be `constantly reactive rather than proactive due to the sheer scale or volume of
crimes´. (Kendall 1999: 343) This view underestimates the fact that Interpol is a
highly flexible, continuously changing network that can rapidly adapt to a new,
altering environment and suits the needs and interests of regional groups or single
countries. The classification as an international organization, done so inter alia by
Barnett and Coleman (2005: 596), who in detail call it `a technical organization that
facilitates cooperation, and thus can be expected to have considerable autonomy´,
remains vague. Although the first aspect of the definition can be considered to be true
as the General Secretariat provides nothing more than a global network of various
databases, the ICPO though does not have any power of disposal until now. Ling
(2010: 28) then connects Interpol rather unintentionally with regime theory when
entitling it a `data processing regime´.
In the mirror of the incidents of the terrorist attacks of September 11, recent
publications emphasize more than ever Interpol´s potentials in fighting international
terrorism. (Deflem 2007; Andreas and Nadelmann 2006; Deflem 2010) Therewith the
scientific reflection for the first time seemed to realize both the global impact as well
as the possibilities of the ICPO and moved straightforward beyond a Eurocentric
tradition. (cf. Fijnaut 1992; Anderson et al. 1995; Anderson and den Boer 1994)
On the other side the literature on global policing is lacking both accurate
theoretical approaches and currency, as most studies are too history-driven. Theories
of international cooperation fail to take the ICPO into perspective. Malcolm Anderson
made a first and so far unique attempt twenty years ago. (Anderson 1989: 168-185)
He identified two major pressures pushing Interpol towards the need for renewal:
increasing scale of bilateral agreements and growing interest in regional cooperation
of the countries. Anderson concluded that the ICPO should start negotiations for a
multilateral treaty to bind all members. For this purpose, he proposed four models of

governance ranging between a centralized-state model and a decentralized-state
model. (ibid.: 171-178) In the end a loose form of the former one prevailed.
Nowadays the ICPO is more and more confronted with the question of
democratic legitimacy and political accountability. (Deflem 2009: 181; Sheptycki
2004; Dupont 2004)
3 Theoretical Framework Hypotheses Generation
It is assumed that National Central Bureaus as well as the General Secretariat as the
representation of Interpol to the national police forces are rational actors. In case of
discrepancies they perform according to cost-benefit analyses.
Anymore, it is impossible to predict if the independent variables chosen are
really the only ones with a causal impact on the dependent variable. The possibility of
intervening background conditions is always present. In order to control the effect of
undetected conditions, ceteris paribus is assumed.
3.1 The dependent variable
Criminals in modern times use the entire world as their field of operations, while
police and law enforcement systems remain within national boundaries. To counter
transnational criminal activities, there is - referring to former Secretary-General
Bossard - only one way: `international cooperation among states, while respecting
national sovereignties.´ (Bossard 1988: 177)
The degree to which national police forces interact with each other to enhance
is a latent variable eluding concrete observability and empirical
measurability. In order to elaborate indicators that measure it indirectly, a precise
terminology is indispensable. Cooperation in international police affairs here refers to
a country´s participation within the technical communications structures provided by
Interpol. The de jure membership of a national police force, may it be the US
American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Chinese NCB or any other
national law enforcement authority, does not automatically result in de facto
To ensure unobstructed and effective cooperation across national borders two
conditions have to be met: National police forces have to fully implement the I-24/7
system by providing law enforcement officials all over the country with access to the
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Police, World Police, International Police, Interpol, ICPO, NCB, UN
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Ron Böhler (Author), 2010, Policing the World without a World Police. Assessing the Conditions of International Police Cooperation, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/376507


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