Why I am running to be Interpol’s next president

The world's largest police organisation is at a crossroads as it faces an urgent need to modernise

In July, Operation Liberterra, a major Interpol operation led to the arrest of 286 criminals. Based in an Abu Dhabi operation room and drawing on Emirati expertise, the UAE played a vital role in the dismantling of transnational criminal networks. Adding to the hundreds of arrests was the rescue of some 430 human trafficking victims and the identification of 4,000 irregular migrants originating from 74 countries.

This five-day operation was successful thanks to information technologies enhancing the co-operation of global police to make the UAE, and the world, a safer place for everyone. Operations such as this are what makes Interpol indispensable to complex operations across dozens of countries.

Interpol is at a crossroads. Criminals have adopted the latest technologies, in some respects outpacing law-enforcement agencies. To face these emerging forms of criminality, law enforcement co-operation and capacities must be ever more effective. That means Interpol must integrate cutting-edge technologies into its operations. And that is why, if at the helm of its executive committee, I want to modernise and transform it. I want to enhance the exchange of information through Interpol databases, drive investment in the modernisation of IT communication equipment, and champion the development of new technologies that will support law enforcement.

Today we are seeing rapid advances in an array of technology fields, from Artificial Intelligence and quantum computing to cryptocurrencies and robotics. These exciting developments are a double-edged sword. They can bring tremendous benefits if used legitimately, and with the proper safeguards in place; or they could have damaging effects on society if misused for criminal purposes. It is critical that Interpol takes the lead in equipping itself and its members with the necessary innovations to fight against old and new forms of criminality.

An image of Bitcoin and US currencies is displayed on a screen as delegates listen to a panel of speakers during the Interpol World Congress in Singapore on July 4, 2017.
The three-day conference on fostering innovation for future security challenges is taking place from July 4 to 6. / AFP PHOTO / ROSLAN RAHMAN

In recent years, the UAE has taken on greater responsibility in collective efforts to resolve shared challenges, culminating in our election to assume a seat on the UN Security Council in January 2022. These efforts are motivated by the belief that we have a unique perspective and approach that can help our partners in the international community work together to move beyond polarisation and rivalry in pursuit of shared interests.

International law enforcement is another critical area where we believe the UAE has a unique offering, in our solutions-oriented mindset, as well as our rapid development of advanced capabilities. For these reasons, I am honoured that the UAE has put forward my candidacy to lead Interpol at this critical juncture.

The UAE’s police forces have gone through a technological overhaul; as we have ventured further into the 21st century, we have understood the importance of embedding critical technology. Our law enforcement agencies have adopted new technological advancements to modernise an outdated and bureaucratic system. As a result, the UAE has consistently topped global safety rankings. It is also a leader in the delivery of more than 200 policing services through smart platforms. It has truly been an impressive and welcomed evolution. The UAE can bring to Interpol, and the global law-enforcement community, the fruits of our approach to long-term investment in technology.

After all, co-operation is the strongest weapon against organised crime. Interpol draws its relevance, credibility and effectiveness from this diverse membership – and so must be more representative of their varied interests and needs. If I am elected Interpol president, I will foster diverse views and experiences, encouraging police officers from across the world to seek out leadership positions within its general secretariat.

In order to help make Interpol a more diverse organisation, I will also put Africa at the heart of my agenda. Terrorism, extremism, trafficking of humans, precious metals, stones and drugs do not just destabilise the continent – they affect the safety and stability of the world community. In my capacity as a member of Interpol’s executive committee, I recently visited nine West African countries to meet police officers on the ground, and discuss with my counterparts and elected officials how Interpol can best support them.

Members of al Qaeda-linked militant group al Shabab listen to a Somalia government soldier as they are paraded at Maslah square after their surrender to the authorities in the north of Somalia's capital Mogadishu September 24, 2012. More than 200 members of the militant group surrendered to African Union and Somalia government soldiers on Saturday. The move will likely bolster government and Africa Union preparations for an onslaught on the southern city of Kismayu - currently the last bastion of the militant group. REUTERS/Omar Faruk (SOMALIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST) - GM1E89P00FP01
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Interpol must integrate cutting-edge technologies and be more representative of its members

It was a privilege to be able to better understand the local challenges facing West African law enforcement agencies as they clamp down on transnational illegal activities. But the need for enhanced co-operation at all levels, and for upgraded technologies, was clear. That is why I particularly want to increase collaboration, tech knowhow and information sharing between Interpol and regional law-enforcement agencies such as Afripol, Aseanpol, among many others.

Even for an organisation with 194 members, I firmly believe finding harmony and success, respecting all traditions, beliefs and customs, is possible. Indeed, for Interpol to function, it is absolutely essential. The UAE stands as a beacon of multiculturalism and is one of the safest, most prosperous nations in the world. We, as a nation, have always focused on building consensus, and acting as a mediator, by focusing on what unites us rather than what divides us. Taking the best from every culture to work together is the mindset I will bring to Interpol, pointing to the UAE’s success as a living example of this philosophy.

Interpol’s General Assembly takes place from November 23-25 in Istanbul. Delegates will recognise that the world is changing – and so must Interpol. They will realise that if it is to best safeguard the world community, and replicate the success of Operation Liberterra, it must integrate cutting-edge technologies and be more representative of its members. If elected president, I will draw on the UAE’s role as a leader in tech-driven policing, and a bridge-builder in the international community, to work closely with the secretary general and the executive committee. Building wide consensus, I will transform Interpol into a modern, technology-driven organisation, geared to tackling today and tomorrow’s challenges head-on.

Published: September 2nd 2021, 10:00 AM
Ahmed Al Raisi

Ahmed Naser Al Raisi

Maj Gen Dr Ahmed Naser Al Raisi is Inspector General of the UAE Ministry of Interior