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International Criminal Police Organization

Last modified: 2023-06-03 by zachary harden
Keywords: interpol | international organizations |
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[Interpol flag]
image by Zachary Harden, 7 February 2022

See also:

About Interpol

The official abbreviations are:
- O.I.P.C., which stands for 'Organisation internationale de police criminelle'
- ICPO, which stands for 'International Criminal Police Organization'.
The official name is 'ICPO-Interpol'
The word 'Interpol' is a contraction of 'international police', and was chosen in 1946 as the telegraphic address.
In 1956, the International Criminal Police Commission changed its name to become the International Criminal Police Organization - Interpol.

The emblem, in use since 1950, comprises the following elements:

  • a representation of the globe, to indicate that Interpol's activities are worldwide
  • olive branches either side of the globe to symbolize peace
  • the name 'INTERPOL' below the globe in the centre of the olive branches
  • a vertical sword behind the globe, representing police action the abbreviations 'OIPC' and 'ICPO' above the globe either side of the sword
  • the scales below the olive branches symbolize justice.

The flag has been in use since 1950:

  • it has a light-blue background
  • the emblem is in the centre
  • the four lightning flashes arranged symmetrically around the emblem represent telecommunications and speed in police action.\

At the 1947 General Assembly session in Paris, it was recommended that all member states adopt the name 'Interpol' as the telegraphic address (Resolution AGN/16/RES/12

At the 1949 General Assembly session in Berne, the organization (then known as the International Criminal Police Commission) adopted the Interpol emblem and flag

At the 1956 General Assembly session in Vienna, the name 'International Criminal Police Organization' was adopted

At the 1958 General Assembly session in London, member states were asked to take measures to protect the word 'Interpol' (AGN/27/RES/1)

At its 1961 session in Copenhagen, the General Assembly recommended that members take further measures to protect the name 'ICPO-Interpol' from unauthorized use (AGN/30/RES/6)

At the 1972 General Assembly session in Frankfurt, Indonesia proposed that Interpol's emblem be modified so that all regions would be represented.

At the 1973 General Assembly session in Vienna, the emblem was modified, and now depicts all the regions of the world.

As an international organization, Interpol's distinctive signs are protected by the 1883 Paris Convention. Under the terms of Article 6 of this Convention, which has been ratified by the majority of Interpol's member states, the signatory countries have agreed to refuse to register as trademarks and ban the use of coats of arms, flags, emblems, initials and names of states and intergovernmental organizations. The organization's emblem and the name 'Interpol' have, in addition, been registered as European Community and US trademarks.

In exceptional cases, the organization may authorize a third party to use its distinctive signs. Authorization can only be given by Interpol's Secretary General. In any event, authorization to use the organization's distinctive signs is limited:

  • authorization is given for a specific, identified project
  • the duration of the authorization is specified
  • authorization does not confer any exclusive rights
  • the authorization specifies that the organization's signs may not be modified or adapted.

Where appropriate, the media (documents, films, etc.) must be submitted to the organization for approval before publication. The organization may automatically revoke the entitlement to use its distinctive signs if it transpires that the project for which the organization has given its agreement is likely to prejudice its reputation or image."

Interpol has currently 181 members. The sovereign countries not members of Interpol are: Bhutan, Kiribati, North Korea, Micronesia, Palau, Samoa, San Marino, Solomon Islands, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Vatican. The organization was founded in 1923, and has its headquarters in St-Cloud, outside Paris.
Ivan Sache, 4 September 2004, based on Interpol website

This flag is based on the flag image on Interpol's website. The logo is not full colour nor 3-D but flat and made of a dark blue outline.
Marc Pasquin, 18 April 2005

Variants of the Flag

[Interpol flag]
image by Marc Pasquin, 18 April 2005

This flag can be seen during a meeting in Russia and flying outside during a convention in Mexico. It is composed of a logo centered on a white field, with the logo a gold outline of the wreath, solid gold scales and sword and 2 tones blue globe (dark continent on pale blue water). I haven't found any explanation of its significance and could simply be a de facto variant (maybe when one wants to make sure its not confused with a UN flag).
Marc Pasquin
, 18 April 2005

[Interpol flag]
image located by Zachary Harden, 7 February 2022

At a 2013 GA meeting in Colombia, there is a variant of the main INTERPOL flag that is rotated to show the emblem correctly, similar to other Colombian flags.
Zachary Harden, 7 February 2022

Former flag

[Interpol flag]
image located by Zachary Harden, 7 February 2022

"At the 1973 General Assembly session in Vienna, the emblem was modified, and now depicts all the regions of the world." Apparently the request to show all the regions came from the Interpol Indonesia delegation the 1973 logo update is confirmed by Interpol.
Ben Cahoon, 17 January 2022.

[Interpol flag] colorized image of the above;
image submitted by Esteban Rivera, 10 October 2022

[Interpol flag]
image located by Ben Cahoon, 10 October 2022