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The Administration of Information in International Administrative Law - The Example of Interpol - Part I/II

By Bettina Schöndorf-Haubold
Read the Full Contribution as a PDF

Suggested Citation: Bettina Schöndorf-Haubold, The Administration of Information in International Administrative Law - The Example of Interpol - Part I/II, 9 German Law Journal 1719-1752 (2008), available at

[Editors' note: Due to its large size, the HTML version (this version)

is published in two parts. This is Part I / II]

A. Introduction

The photos of the presumed child abuser were published all around the world and resulted in the arrest of the wanted person in no time. Within only a few months, Interpol has twice issued public searches for wanted persons on its own initiative. The immediate success seemed to justify the measures. Does Interpol evolve into a veritable international criminal police? Since Interpol's competences for operational measures are still limited, it seems more appropriate to qualify Interpol as an agency with purely coordinative and providing functions and, accordingly, as an example for international administration.

Within the international administration, Interpol assumes a special role. This international police organization has developed only gradually from a loose association of police authorities into an intergovernmental international organization. Repressive and preventive actions against crime, thus administrative tasks at least in part, have always been central functions of this organization. At the same time, Interpol, in contrast to other administrative authorities, is limited, in principle, to acts of support. Interpol provides a platform and infrastructure for co-operation between national administrative authorities. Interpol itself does not have the competence to decide in particular cases, although such competence is a typical element of administrative work. This restriction can be explained by the wish to preserve national sovereignty. Nevertheless, the work of Interpol can be characterized as informational administrative activity being a traditional area of administrative law.

B. Interpol's Relevance for the International Administrative Law I. The Subject Area: Police Activity in Danger and Crime Prevention

Interpol is the name of the International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO) with currently 186 members and headquarters in Lyon (France). Regarding the number of member states, it is the second largest international organization after the United Nations. Nonetheless, Interpol has only 450 employees, one third of them delegated by the member states. With an...