Summary: At its launch on 22 September 2011, the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) adopted the Cairo Declaration on Counterterrorism and the Rule of Law: Effective Counterterrorism Practice in the Criminal Justice Sector. This declaration underscores the critical role of a rule of law-based approach to bringing terrorists and their supporters to justice within national criminal justice systems. As a sign of their commitment to the implementation of the Declaration, GCTF members have pledged to contribute some $90 million dollars of support for rule of law-based approaches to counterterrorism.
Background: Consistent with the vision of its 30 founding members, the GCTF is committed to building political support and mobilizing the expertise and resources necessary to address the full spectrum of critical counterterrorism challenges of the 21st century. There are few more urgent ones than providing support for countries seeking to turn their backs on repressive approaches to counterterrorism. This involves ensuring their criminal justice and law enforcement authorities adopt robust yet human rights-compliant policies and practices that protect both the security and liberty of their citizens. This is particularly important for countries transitioning to democracy as they seek to strengthen a rule of law-based approach.
These countries may desire technical assistance, including training and capacity-building support, to develop the necessary legal framework and institutions to implement a more balanced, rule of law-based approach to preventing and responding to terrorism. At the heart of this approach is an effective criminal justice system with the requisite investigative, prosecutorial, judicial, and field over the past decade, much more work remains to be done.
At its official launch -- and as a demonstration of its commitment to rule of law-based approaches to counterterrorism -- the GCTF adopted the Cairo Declaration on Counterterrorism and the Rule of Law. Furthermore, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced a package of resources and programming from GCTF members to support the counterterrorism-related capacity-building of rule of law institutions in interested countries based on and according to their requests. This package of new and existing resources now totals some $90 million dollars. The GCTF, including through its Criminal Justice/Rule of Law Working Group, will coordinate the implementation of this program, which will be implemented by a variety of bilateral and multilateral actors. This includes funds for countries seeking to: a) strengthen their counterterrorism laws; b) develop robust investigative and prosecutorial counterterrorism tools; c) train police, prosecutors, and judges to apply the laws and implement the other tools in a human rights-compliant manner; and d) develop correctional practices that inhibit radicalization.
The Declaration calls on the Forum’s Criminal Justice/Rule of Law Working Group to develop sound practices for an effective, rule of law-based criminal justice sector response to terrorism. The Declaration also underscores the GCTF’s intention to mobilize the resources and expertise to help countries implement such practices. The initiative will provide practical guidance to states as they seek to implement the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, which underscores the critical role that an effective and accountable national criminal justice system plays in ensuring that terrorists and their supporters are brought to justice.