Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

Taiwan/United States: Support for Taiwan’s Interpol Participation

(May 6, 2016) On March 18, 2016, President Obama signed into law a bill aimed at enabling Taiwan to gain observer status in “the International Criminal Police Organization [Interpol], and for other purposes.” (A Bill to Direct the Secretary of State to Develop a Strategy to Obtain Observer Status for Taiwan in the International Criminal Police Organization, and for Other Purposes, S. 2426, 114th Cong. (2016), CONGRESS.GOV.) The Bill became Public Law No. 114-139.  (Id.)

Interpol has a membership of 190 countries, each of which has established a National Central Bureau staffed by domestic law enforcement officers. Those bureaus form a linked global network, “enabling member countries to work together on cross-border investigations.”  (World, Interpol website (last visited May 5, 2016).)

Rationale for Taiwan Observer Status

The Bill notes that Taiwan had full membership in Interpol from 1964 to 1984, through its National Police Administration, but was ejected that year when the People’s Republic of China applied for membership. (S. 2426 (scroll down to S. 2426 text, § 1(a)(5)).)  It points out that non-membership in Interpol on the one hand “prevents Taiwan from gaining access to INTERPOL’s I–24/7 global police communications system, which provides real-time information on criminals and global criminal activities,” and on the other prevents Taiwan from being able to “swiftly share information on criminals and suspicious activity with the international community, leaving a huge void in the global crime-fighting efforts and leaving the entire world at risk.”  (Id. §§ 1(a)(6) & (7).)

In support of the argument for Taiwan’s participation in Interpol, the Bill also remarks that since Taiwan was granted observer status to the World Health Assembly, the country has “contributed significantly” to international efforts to deal with pandemics. (Id. § 1(a)(9).)  In addition, it states that the Interpol constitution “allows for observers at its meetings by ‘police bodies which are not members of the Organization.’”  (Id. § 1(a)(10).)  Article 4 of the Interpol constitution states: “[a]ny country may delegate as a Member to the Organization any official police body whose functions come within the framework of activities of the Organization.”  (Constitution of the ICPO-INTERPOL, I/CONS/GA/1956(2008) (scroll down to “Constitution” under “Reference Documents” section and click on PDF link.)

Actions to Be Taken for Taiwan’s Participation in Interpol

The Bill calls upon the U.S. Secretary of State to

  1. develop a strategy to obtain observer status for Taiwan in INTERPOL and at other related meetings, activities, and mechanisms thereafter; and
  2.  instruct INTERPOL Washington to officially request observer status for Taiwan in INTERPOL and to actively urge INTERPOL member states to support such observer status and participation for Taiwan. (S. 2426, § 1(b).)

In addition, no later than 90 days after the Act’s enactment, the Secretary of State is to submit a report to Congress on “the U.S. strategy to endorse and obtain observer status for Taiwan in appropriate international organizations, including INTERPOL, and at other related meetings, activities, and mechanisms thereafter.” (Id. § 1(c).)