The Runners and Riders in the Race to Become Interpol’s Next General Secretary
Interpol’s Annual General Assembly in 2024 will mark the end of Jürgen Stock’s decade long tenure as Interpol’s General Secretary. Red Notice Monitor is aware of three candidates who are seeking to replace him as general secretary. They are profiled below. A fourth candidate – from the People’s Republic of China – is understood to be no longer pursuing the position.
As part of our effort to promote greater transparency in the work of Interpol, RNM has contacted all the candidates asking them to provide a summary of their vision for Interpol moving forward for the future.
The Selection Process
In July 2023 the process of selecting the next Secretary General began with a call for member states to put forward their nominees. Before next year’s GA Interpol’s Executive Committee will shortlist and interview applicants before selecting a candidate to propose to the General Assembly for appointment as Secretary General.
A detailed “explanatory note“ explaining how the process works is available here and on Interpol’s website. The next Secretary General will be appointed for a five-year term in office which can be reviewed and extended for one additional five-year term by Interpol’s General Assembly.
To secure the post the winning candidate will have to obtain a majority of the eligible votes on the 13 strong Executive Committee, bearing in mind that any country proposing a candidate is barred from voting. Much may depend on the positions taken by the global superpowers China, the US and India, as the UK and Brazil – see below – are conflicted out of the picture. Ultimately, the next appointee will have to win at least six votes from the countries below:
Ahmed Naser AL-RAISI (United Arab Emirates, President)
Peter DE BUYSSCHER (Belgium, Vice-President) Garba Baba UMAR (Nigeria, Vice-President) Juan Carlos HERNÁNDEZ (Argentina, delegate) Binchen HU (China, delegate) Michael A. HUGHES (United States, delegate) María Alicia MALO SÁNCHEZ (Spain, delegate) Anne-Marie NAINDA (Namibia, delegate) Alaa RAGAB (Egypt, delegate) Selçuk SEVGEL (Türkiye, delegate) Praveen SINHA (India, delegate)
RNM understands that behind-the-scenes lobbying is already underway. We anticipate this will only intensify as the election approaches. Based on the limited information available to us we profile the likely contenders in our form guide below and give our informal rankings for each candidate.
Valdecy Urqiza (Brazil) RNM Odds 3-1
Valdecy Urquiza has over 25 years of experience in law enforcement, including 15 years with the Brazilian Federal Police (BFP), where he currently serves as head of international Cooperation. Urquiza has held a variety of positions within the BFP, including Head of the International Police Cooperation Division, Head of the National Central Bureau of INTERPOL in Brazil, and Chief Information Officer. He has also served as a police attaché to the Brazilian Embassy in France. RNM understands that Mr Urquiza has left Interpol where he previously served on the Executive Committee as Vice-President for the Americas although both Interpol’s website and his Twitter account have not been updated accordingly.
Valdecy Urquiza officially announced his candidacy on twitter on the 15th of September 2023 and RNM understands he has emerged as the early favourite in the ante-post betting. A recent trip to Beijing by Mr Urquiza has not escaped the attention of Interpol watchers particularly as the Chinese nominee tipped to run (Binchen Hu of the Executive Committee) has apparently pulled out of the race. His meeting with Interpol’s controversial President Ahmed Naser AL-RAISI (whose role would seem to dictate that he should be a neutral voice in the contest) last month also lends further weight to suggestions that Mr Urquiza is actively on manoeuvres.
Stephen Kavanagh (UK) RNM Odds 4-1
As mentioned in an earlier RNM blog, the public announcement of Mr Kavanagh’s candidacy is a welcome change from the customary secrecy characteristic of Interpol. As the deputy to Jürgen Stock, he is the second-highest ranking official at the International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL), serving as the Executive Director for Police Services. Kavanagh has over 30 years of experience in law enforcement, having served in various UK police forces since 1985. He has held a variety of senior positions, including Commander Counter Terrorism (SO15), Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Territorial Policing, and Chief Constable of Essex Police. Wikipedia carries a detailed profile of Mr Kavanagh’s background.
Given that Interpol’s last three incumbents Secretary Generals have originated from the UK, USA and Germany respectively and taking into account the current composition of the EC the appetite for another nominee from the West may be limited. Kavanagh’s status and lengthy experience at Interpol however must make him a serious contender.
Mubita Nawa (Zambia) RNM Odds 10-1
Mubita Nawa served as Head of the INTERPOL Regional Bureau for Southern Africa, headquartered in Harare, Zimbabwe. RNM understands that he has left this position, where he was responsible for overseeing INTERPOL's activities in 15 member countries in the region, including Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Mr Nawa has over 20 years of experience in law enforcement, including 15 years with the Zambia Police Service.
As Mr Nawa has not officially declared his candidacy and there is scant information publicly available about him, Mr Nawa can only be seen as a rank outsider at this stage. Nonetheless, RNM understands that he is in the running for selection as Interpol’s next Secretary General. Furthermore, his previous experience in Namibia may secure him the vote of their EC representative and the appeal of a compromise candidate from Africa or the global South in the event of deadlock in the early rounds of soundings at the Executive Committee should not be underestimated.