On Wednesday 5 November, Mr. Zouhair Chorfi, Chairperson of the WCO Council and Director General of Moroccan Customs, addressed Police chiefs and other senior law enforcement officials attending the 83rd INTERPOL General Assembly held in Monaco from 3 to 7 November 2014.
With the theme ‘Turn Back Crime: 100 years of international police cooperation’, the meeting marked a century since the idea of establishing an organization such as INTERPOL was born in 1914 at the first International Criminal Police Congress that was also held in Monaco.
The General Assembly, INTERPOL's supreme governing body, meets once a year and takes all the major decisions affecting general policy, the resources needed for international cooperation, working methods, finances, and programmes of activities.
This year, discussions centered on contemporary international criminal threats, including foreign fighters, cybercrime, border security, and environmental security. Campaigns to promote a global alliance against crime, such as INTERPOL’s ‘Turn Back Crime’ campaign, were introduced to delegates. Regional and global police cooperation efforts were also the focus of a panel discussion by representatives from AFRIPOL, AMERIPOL, ASEANAPOL, and EUROPOL.
During a session on ‘Transnational flows and mobility’, where he was invited to give a keynote address, Mr. Chorfi congratulated INTERPOL and its Members on their 100 year anniversary, on behalf of the global Customs community. “If our ancestors saw us today, I am certain that they would have been proud of the progress made. Their goals, no matter how unattainable they were back then, were achieved”, said the WCO Council Chairperson.
He continued by pointing out the challenges that law enforcement and border protection agencies around the world are facing, and highlighted the complimentary capabilities and unique knowledge of both Customs and Police, and the benefits generated from effective cooperation between the two enforcement services.
“Different forms of cooperation have emerged during the last 20 years, such as Customs-Police Cooperation Centres, national Targeting and Risk Analysis Centres, joint border patrol and investigation teams, as well as ad hoc inter-agency cooperation to name a few. They must be nurtured and supported for the benefit of all. New forms of cooperation with the use of innovative technologies must be developed, discussed and applied”, Mr. Chorfi added.
Examples of concrete cooperation between the WCO and INTERPOL were given, such as Project Aircop, a joint UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL endeavour to combat the trafficking in cocaine and other illegal drugs by air from South America via West Africa to Europe, as well as a number of successful joint international enforcement operations, including Operation Cocair IV led by the WCO and Operation Lionfish led by INTERPOL.
Mr. Chorfi also reminded participants that the two organisations have set up the practice of regular senior management meetings, which are firmly embedded in their respective agendas. He stressed that these meetings help the WCO and INTERPOL to streamline their agendas, track their common work, and develop new projects.
“We have all we need to make the world a safer place: talent, wit, knowledge, ambition, goodwill, and perseverance. Like our predecessors, we are not afraid of challenges. Let’s make it happen, so that when future generations of law enforcement officers gather to celebrate the next anniversary, they will look back and feel proud of the heritage we left them’, Mr. Chorfi concluded.