What: Launched by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on 22 September 2011, the GCTF is an informal multilateral counterterrorism (CT) platform with 30 founding members (29 countries plus the EU) that regularly convenes key CT policymakers and practitioners from around the world, as well as experts from the United Nations and other multilateral bodies. It has strengthened the international architecture for addressing 21st century terrorism and promotes a strategic, long-term approach to dealing with the threat. The Forum identifies urgent needs, devises solutions, and mobilizes resources for addressing key civilian counterterrorism challenges. With its primary focus on countering violent extremism and strengthening criminal justice and other rule of law institutions necessary to prevent and counter terrorism, the GCTF aims to diminish terrorist recruitment and increase the number of countries capable of dealing with terrorist and related security threats within their borders and regions.
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 consists 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. Initial working groups focus on: 1) the criminal justice sector and rule of law, co-chaired by Egypt and the U.S.; 2) countering violent extremism, co-chaired by the UAE and the UK; 3) capacity-building in the Sahel, co-chaired by Algeria and Canada; 4) capacity-building in The Horn Region, co-chaired by the EU and Turkey; and 5) capacity-building in Southeast Asia, co-chaired by Australia and Indonesia.
Relationship to the United Nations: The United Nations is a close partner of and participant in the GCTF and its activities. The GCTF serves as a mechanism for furthering the implementation of the universally-agreed UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and, more broadly, complements and reinforces existing multilateral CT efforts, starting with those of the UN.
September 2011 Launch: Two concrete deliverables were announced at the launch in New York demonstrating the Forum's action-oriented approach from its inception: 1) The Cairo Declaration on Counterterrorism and the Rule of Law and some $90 million to support CT-related strengthening of criminal justice systems, with a particular focus on countries in transition; and 2) the UAE indicating its intention to open the first-ever international center for training, dialogue, research and collaboration on countering violent extremism in Abu Dhabi in the fall of 2012.
Initial GCTF Activities: Since September, each of the GCTF working groups has convened inaugural meetings, with a number of the groups having prepared work plans for the Coordinating Committee to review and adopt at its second meeting on 7-8 June in Istanbul.
The CVE Working Group's 12-month work plan will focus on three broad areas: 1) CVE through communications, including the use of communications to promote community resilience and to shape a counter-narrative; 2) measuring the impact of CVE programming; and 3) the role of institutions including schools, prisons, and victims groups in countering violent extremism. On 9-10 July, Spain will initiate the group's work on victims of terrorism when it hosts a GCTF High-Level Conference in Madrid on the subject.
The regional capacity-building groups, which include key non-GCTF regional states and other stakeholders, have identified concrete follow-on initiatives aimed at bringing together the relevant CT practitioners from within and outside the region to share expertise, challenges, and good practices and identify ways to address priority CT needs. For example, on 16-17 May, Niger hosted a meeting of border security experts in Niamey under the auspices of the Sahel Working Group, which strengthened the network of border security experts focused on the Sahel and produced a number of recommendations for enhancing border security capacities in the region. Similar expert-focused, GCTF initiatives are expected to take place in the Sahel and other regions in the months ahead. The Horn of Africa Working Group will hold its second meeting in November 2012 bringing together practitioners from and outside the region involved in law enforcement and countering the financing of terrorism, including those working in Financial Intelligence Units.
In addition to developing the criminal justice sector CT good practices at its 7-8 February meeting in Rabat, the Criminal Justice Sector and Rule of Law Working Group, including at a 23-24 May meeting in The Hague, has begun to identify existing and develop new CT capacity-building programs focused on the training of prosecutors, judges, police, and prison officials to support the implementation of these good practices.
Finally, as a contribution to building international cooperation and capacities to address the increasingly global terrorist tactic of kidnapping for ransom (KFR), Algeria hosted an ad hoc meeting of GCTF experts on 18-19 April to begin to develop a set of good practices on the practical steps all countries can take prevent and deny the benefits of KFR to terrorisst. The GCTF will further elaborate and then seek to adopt these good practices in the second half of 2012.