An Opportunity for Reform: Interpol and the UK's Diplomatic Failures
A report last week from the UK's Foreign Affairs Committee has shed light on a critical issue that has long been simmering beneath the surface of international diplomacy: the manipulation of multilateral organisations by repressive regimes.
The case in point is the election of Major General al-Raisi as the president of Interpol, a move that raised eyebrows and concerns in diplomatic circles when he was elected in 2021. Now UK MPs have weighed in, with the Committee finding that “The election of Major General Ahmed Nasser al-Raisi, Inspector General of the of the Ministry of Interior at the time of Matthew Hedges’ torture, to the presidency of INTERPOL not only confirms our concerns over the processes of INTERPOL governance, but represents a failure of UK diplomacy and a significant injustice to victims.”
Interpol, like other multilateral organisations, plays a pivotal role in global governance. These institutions are designed to foster cooperation, ensure security, and promote shared values among member states. They serve as platforms where nations, regardless of their size or power, can voice their concerns, seek assistance, and collaborate on shared challenges.
Interpol's mandate transcends its operational role. Whilst the popular perception of the organisation that it has agents in trench coats on the ground is wildly inaccurate, it nonetheless performs a vital role in global policing and stands as a testament to a shared commitment to justice and security. Yet the sanctity and purpose of these international organisations are under threat. Repressive regimes, with their track record of human rights abuses and authoritarian governance, are increasingly seeking to control and manipulate these institutions for their own ends. The election of Major General al-Raisi, a figure with a controversial background, to the helm of Interpol was a glaring example of this this.
The UK cannot afford to be a mere observer. It has a strategic and, perhaps, a moral duty, to shape these organisations. The Foreign Affairs Committee’s findings are alarming and the UK's failure in the Interpol's recent presidential election should be a wake-up call. It underscores the need for a more proactive and strategic approach to diplomacy, one that anticipates challenges and acts decisively to counter them.
The election of Major General al-Raisi to Interpol's presidency has already cast a shadow over the organisation, one that might grow darker as the organisation gears up to elect its next Secretary-General. Interpol's procedural rules paints a picture of a meticulous selection process, culminating in a vote at the General Assembly. Yet, as Jürgen Stock prepares to vacate his seat in 2024, nations are already positioning their candidates for role. The candidature hints from Stephen Kavanagh of the UK and Valdecy Urquiza of Brazil, coupled with China's push to back its preferred candidate, underscore the geopolitical undercurrents at play.
The Foreign Affairs Committee’s findings have spotlighted a glaring flaw in global diplomacy: repressive regimes manipulating key institutions. Major General al-Raisi's election to Interpol's presidency wasn’t just a misstep; it's a warning. As power plays emerge for Interpol's next leadership, the UK must step up. It's not just about a position; it's about preserving global ideals and the UK needs to ensure that Interpol remains an emblem of cooperation and justice. The integrity of the institution hangs in the balance, and the UK's proactive engagement will be pivotal in steering it towards a future that upholds the principles they were founded upon.