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  • Rhys Davies

The Disbandment of the Interpol Foundation For A Safer World




Back in 2021, we assisted Sir David Calvert-Smith in the writing of his report “Undue Influence: the UAE and INTERPOL”. That report shone a spotlight on the funding mechanisms of Interpol generally, and also paid particular attention to the Interpol Foundation for a Safer World. The report noted that the Interpol Foundation didn’t appear to have received any other visible funding from sources apart from the UAE since it was set up in 2013. Sir David concluded that “It is difficult to escape the conclusion that the INTERPOL Foundation for a Safer World’s sole purpose is to be a channel by which to funnel cash from the UAE Government into INTERPOL”. After the publication of that report, we heard noises from Interpol expressing its displeasure with that conclusion.


We were therefore interested to hear from sources that Interpol has now terminated its agreement with the Foundation and that the Foundation is therefore likely to shut down in the near future, if it hasn’t done so already. Assuming information is correct, that will mean that the Interpol Foundation for a Safer World, over its ten year lifespan, never received or spent a single penny that didn’t come from the UAE.


Doubtless when it was set up, the Foundation had many noble intents to support the good work of Interpol. But its likely dissolution does raise reasonable questions about both the motives for its establishment and what it has achieved. The Foundation was set up with mission “To promote a more secure, open world where economies allow citizens and companies to flourish and where people can live and travel without threat of crimes.” This is noble stuff and, on the surface, aligns perfectly with Interpol’s stated objectives.


Yet the deeper dive in Sir David’s report suggested a more complex picture and the most glaring aspect of the Foundation which emerged was its link to the UAE. Whilst the Foundation claimed to be an independent entity, it was exclusively reliant on funds from the UAE, and in 2017 the UAE pledged an unprecedented €50 million to the Foundation. That figure dwarfed many other contributions and raised eyebrows in international circles.


The Foundation’s primary activity was to support Interpol via the funds that were provided to it from the UAE. Of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with accepting donations, yet the lack of transparency and the large amount of funds coming from a single source made many question the Foundation’s intentions.


The question that arose is why would the UAE, a country with its own set of challenges relating to human rights and governance, be so generous in its contribution to an international foundation. Was it a genuine act of philanthropy or was there perhaps some other motive? In short, was the Foundation working only towards its mission, or was it somehow a conduit for the UAE to exert influence over Interpol? The fact that the Foundation has now been disbanded without any significant achievements doesn’t put those concerns to bed.


Doubtless it is just a coincidence that Interpol elected an Emirati, Major General al-Raisi, as the President of Interpol after the UAE had established itself as an Interpol financial superpower. Yet, setting aside coincidence, it remains the case that the Interpol Foundation for a Safer World has raised many eyebrows, and its likely dissolution will leave many wondering about that organisation’s true motives. Interpol, as a key entity in global security, ought to exercise the utmost diligence and transparency when accepting donations. The integrity and trustworthiness of Interpol hinges on its ability to remain impartial and uninfluenced. Any perceived compromise, especially through funding sources, has the capacity to undermine its credibility and effectiveness in fostering international cooperation. It is imperative for Interpol to ensure that affiliations and financial ties do not cast shadows over its mission or compromise its commitment to global justice.


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