As stated in President Obama’s National Counterterrorism Strategy, the U.S. is committed to strengthening the global counterterrorism (CT) architecture in a manner that complements and reinforces the CT work of existing multilateral bodies. The Administration’s signature initiative in this area is the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), which is intended to ensure the necessary international architecture is in place to address 21st century challenges.
The U.S. proposed the creation of the GCTF to address the evolving terrorist threat in a way that would bring enduring benefits by helping frontline countries and affected regions acquire the means to deal with threats they face. It is based on a recognition that the U.S. alone cannot eliminate every terrorist or terrorist organization. Rather, the international community must come together to assist countries as they work to confront the terrorist threat.
What: The GCTF will be a new, informal, multilateral CT body that will focus on identifying critical civilian CT needs, mobilizing the necessary expertise and resources to address these issues and build global political will. It will provide a needed venue for national CT officials and practitioners to meet with their counterparts from key countries in different regions to share CT experiences, expertise, strategies, capacity needs, and capacity-building programs. The GCTF will prioritize civilian capacity building in areas such as rule of law, border management, and countering violent extremism.
The GCTF will also provide a unique platform for senior CT policymakers and experts from key partners in different regions to share insights and best practices. In short, the GCTF will take a more strategic approach to civilian CT efforts and help us increase the number of countries capable – both technically and in terms of political will – of dealing with the terrorist challenge.
Who: The 30 founding members of the GCTF are: Algeria, Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, Denmark, Egypt, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Morocco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Structure: The GCTF will consist of a strategic-level Coordinating Committee, co-chaired initially by the United States and Turkey; five thematic and regional expert-driven working groups; and a small administrative unit that the U.S. will host for the first few years.
Initial working groups will focus on: 1) the criminal justice sector and rule of law; 2) countering violent extremism; 3) capacity building in the Sahel; 4) capacity building in The Horn Region; and 5) capacity building in Southeast Asia. In addition, relevant non-GCTF member states and other relevant stakeholders, including the United Nations, regional and sub-regional bodies, and non-government experts, will be invited to participate in the appropriate working group(s) and/or working group activities.
Relationship with the United Nations: The United Nations will be a close partner of and participant in the GCTF and its activities. The GCTF will serve as a mechanism for furthering the implementation of the universally-agreed UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and, more broadly, complement and reinforce existing multilateral CT efforts, starting with those of the United Nations.
Official Launch: The GCTF will be launched officially in New York at the level of foreign ministers on the margins of the upcoming UN General Assembly meetings in September 2011. In addition to adopting the GCTF’s founding documents (a political declaration and terms of reference) and short speeches from the Co-Chairs (the U.S. and Turkey) and other GCTF members, the event will include the announcement of two concrete deliverables, thus highlighting the GCTF’s practical, action-oriented focus from the outset. In addition, the Global Survivors Network will premiere a short film of interviews of survivors of terrorism from around the globe. The film will depict the different ways in which survivors are now helping to prevent terrorism by speaking out against violent extremist ideologies.
Deliverables: 1) the adoption of the Cairo Declaration on Counterterrorism and the Rule of Law and the announcement of a major rule of law capacity-building program focused, in particular, on countries transitioning away from emergency law; and 2) the announcement of the intention to create the first-ever multilateral training and research center focused on countering violent extremism, which would be based in the Gulf region.
Please forward any questions concerning the GCTF to GCTF@state.gov.