Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism
September 22, 2011


Official Launch Event
Waldorf-Astoria Hotel
New York, NY

Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) Co-Chairs Turkey and the United States hosted the official GCTF launch on September 22, 2011, at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton presided. Rather than a transcript of the proceedings, the following summary seeks to capture the key points raised during the event.

I. Premier of Global Survivors Network documentary featuring victims and survivors of terrorism from around the world

In introducing the film, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero noted that the GCTF wanted to honor the victims of terrorism around the world and underscore the central role they and others in civil society and government can play in countering terrorism and violent extremism. The Global Survivors Network was asked to produce the film because it understands better than anyone that terrorist violence only causes pain and suffering, leaving families broken, creating widows, and making children motherless and fatherless. Under Secretary Otero said the film’s portrayal of victims and survivors delivers a powerful message against terrorism and reminds everyone of the purpose of the GCTF.

II. Co-Chairs’ Opening Remarks

United States: Secretary Clinton said that terrorism poses a threat to people everywhere and demands a coordinated international response. While bilateral and multilateral efforts have been effective, we lack a dedicated global venue to convene key counterterrorism policy makers and practitioners to identify priorities, devise solutions, and chart a path to implementation. The GCTF will provide that venue, and will work to strengthen the capacity of governments, multilateral bodies, and civil society groups. She said that early foci of the Forum will be on supporting states in transition to develop justice systems rooted in the rule of law and on bringing together experts to design more effective strategies for countering violent extremism and helping to ensure government and nongovernment officials are trained to understand the phenomenon of radicalization and how to address it. She said the members of the GCTF can build an international counterterrorism network that is as nimble and adaptive as our adversaries, that can mobilize resources and expertise from across the globe, and that can not only meet today’s challenges but prepare for tomorrow’s. She concluded by saying the United States will be an active partner in the Forum and called for it to be a catalyst for action rather than another debating society.

Turkey: Minister Davutoglu said there is a genuine need for an initiative such as the GCTF because a world of shrinking distances brings us closer together, for good and for bad, with terrorism being one of the darker aspects of this trend. He said the launch of the GCTF reflects a shared belief in the need to join forces against terrorism, with the recognition that there is room for improvement in our cooperation and actions. Minister Davutoglu added that terrorists continue to claim innocent lives around the world, with the attacks in Norway a reminder that the threat can emerge anywhere and from all kinds of extremism. He also noted a recent attack in Ankara that resulted in numerous civilian casualties, and recalled the victims of PKK attacks against civilians in Turkey. Minister Davutoglu appealed to other countries to prevent the presence and activities of PKK on their territories, which he said is an obligation under international law.

The GCTF, he stressed has the potential to serve as a platform to share unique experiences and channel national contributions into joint civilian-led counterterrorism efforts. Such a robust and action-oriented body, which will work in close coordination with the UN, can make an important contribution to the implementation of the global counterterrorism framework of the UN. Minister Davutoglu said Turkey will strongly support the GCTF, sharing its experiences, best practices, and ideas, and providing material assistance. He said Turkey is willing to host the GCTF Administrative Unit in Istanbul in the future.

At the conclusion of his remarks, Minister Davutoglu noted that members had previously agreed to the GCTF Political Statement and Terms of Reference. Receiving no objections from the members, he took the documents as adopted.

III. Announcement of Deliverables

Countering Violent Extremism Deliverable: Yousef Al Otaiba, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the United States, speaking on behalf of UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, said that demographic trends, unemployment, deficiencies in education, and modernization will keep countering violent extremism on the global agenda over any planning horizon. Because countries will need a critical group of experts on countering violent extremism, he said, the UAE is pleased to announce its intention to host the first-ever Center of Excellence on Countering Violent Extremism under the auspices of the GCTF. The center would be a leading resource on the subject for governments, featuring a repository of knowledge and a database of resources, he said, adding that the center would develop a curriculum, offer courses, and sponsor research on countering violent extremism of all kinds. He noted that the center would complement, not duplicate, existing efforts.

Rule of Law Deliverable: Secretary Clinton announced the adoption of the Cairo Declaration on Counterterrorism and the Rule of Law, which underscores the critical role of a rule-of-law based approach to bringing terrorists and their supporters to justice within effective and accountable national criminal justice systems. She noted that the Declaration directs the Forum's rule of law working group to develop sound practices in this area, while recognizing that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to addressing the common challenges GCTF members face.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr underscored Egypt’s view that all counterterrorism efforts should be conducted under due process of law that is in line with internationally agreed upon human rights standards. He said GCTF members should avoid linking terrorism to any religion, culture, or ethnic group. Egypt will support the rule of law working group, which it co-chairs with the United States, with the goal of developing the Forum into an efficient international mechanism to “conduct effective capacity building programs, and develop new international strategies to address the root causes of terrorism, reforming international efforts, and helping to usher a new era of peace and security and justice.”

Secretary Clinton announced that GCTF members are contributing more than $75 million to support the implementation of the Cairo Declaration through a range of capacity-building programs, with a particular focus on supporting countries transitioning away from repressive to rule of law-based approaches to countering terrorism.

IV. Statement on Behalf of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Speaking on behalf of the Secretary-General, UN Assistant Secretary-General Robert Orr said the UN has made significant progress in mobilizing the world to counter terrorism, noting the adoption by all member states of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in 2006. He added the GCTF is another important demonstration of collective resolve, and called for a strong and effective partnership among the Forum, UN counterterrorism entities, and the UN Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF).

V. Statements from GCTF Members

European Union (EU): High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Lady Catherine Ashton said that security is always closely linked to democracy and functioning institutions, and noted that governance, the rule of law, and a functioning criminal justice system are crucial. She cited broad agreement on the need to put more emphasis on prevention of terrorism, announcing that the EU has just established a Radicalization Awareness Network. High Representative Ashton noted the EU’s extensive work in capacity building worldwide. She said the EU stands ready to support the GCTF at all levels and offers to co-chair the working group on the Horn of Africa Region. High Representative Ashton said the EU could provide about 25 million Euros of new and existing resources for counterterrorism capacity building, with a focus on rule of law, criminal justice, and preventive measures.

Nigeria: Foreign Minister Olugbenga Ashiru said that because terrorism does not discriminate, it demands collective resolve and cooperation to effectively tackle it. He expressed Nigeria’s full support for the GCTF’s Political Declaration and expressed hope that the GCTF will provide the framework for multilateral cooperation, mobilization of expertise and resources, capacity building, and a strategic approach to dealing with terrorism.

Italy: Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said terrorism requires an encompassing vision that includes social prevention measures, intelligence gathering, investigative and judicial actions, and reintegration and rehabilitation. He said it is essential to bring terrorists before justice to stand fair trial in accordance with international principles and in the full respect for the fundamental rights of the individuals. Noting Italy’s own experience with domestic terrorism from the 1970s-1990s, Minister Frattini said Italy will enthusiastically support the GCTF.

China: Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said the launch of the GCTF speaks volumes about the international community’s resolve to address new terrorist challenges. Noting the increased counterterrorism efforts of governments around the world over the last decade, he said the world still faces an array of new challenges, including the impact of the international financial crisis, terrorist use of the Internet, and home-grown terrorism and terrorism by individuals. Minister Yang said the international community should make greater efforts in three areas: promoting global economic recovery and development; upholding international and regional stability and resolving regional disputes through peaceful means; and deepening international counterterrorism cooperation and achieving common security. Minister Yang said the establishment of the GCTF represents a new step forward in the world’s joint effort against terrorism and has the potential to add impetus to international cooperation against terrorism.

Saudi Arabia: Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal said that as the Global Survivors Network film showed, victims of terrorism live all over the world, and thus the world needs a global forum to address terrorism. Noting that Saudi Arabia hosted the first Global Conference on Counter-Terrorism in Riyadh in 2005, he said the international community has a responsibility to counter terrorism, one of the greatest challenges in the world today. Noting Saudi Arabia’s support for the new UN Center for Counter-Terrorism (UNCCT), he emphasized the importance of collaboration between the GCTF and the UNCCT. He also commended the adoption of the GCTF’s founding documents, taking note of the geographic diversity of the membership, which he said should reinforce the Forum’s joint and collective responsibility to counter terrorism.

Russia: Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the attacks of September 11, 2001, and other attacks of the last decade have confirmed the need for collective action against terrorism and strengthened the central coordinating role of the UN. Minister Lavrov said despite the damage inflicted on al-Qaida, the risk of terrorism has not diminished, with the activities of autonomous groups coming to the fore. He said Russia supported the initiative to establish the GCTF and shares the basic principles of cooperation in the Political Declaration. He said the success of the GCTF will depend on how well it fits into the overall architecture of counterterrorism cooperation and how balanced and politically representative is the partnership. Minister Lavrov said the working groups reflect the real thematic and regional priorities in the international counterterrorism agenda. He hoped the Forum would turn into a “major venue for full-fledged interaction of experts.”

Pakistan: Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar recalled the victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks, as well as many other attacks, and noted that Pakistan itself has suffered 35,000 casualties from terrorism. She said Pakistan’s counterterrorism strategy of dialogue, development, and deterrence indicates that political ownership and national consensus are critical in defeating extremism and terrorists, and noted that understanding of the inherent complexities of Pakistan’s challenge would be helpful in pursuing shared objectives. Citing the need for a simple and direct counter-narrative to mobilize public support against extremism, Minister Khar said Pakistan is enlisting the support of religious scholars, political activists, media, and other actors to raise awareness about the destructive terrorist agenda. She reaffirmed Pakistan’s resolve to strengthen international cooperation against terrorism and welcomed both the GCTF and the new Center of Excellence on Countering Violent Extremism in the United Arab Emirates.

Jordan: Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said his country’s experience as a victim of terrorism strengthened its resolve against terrorism. He said the establishment of the GCTF reaffirms what the UN and other multilateral groups have achieved. Minister Judeh emphasized that terrorism cannot be associated with any religion, culture, or region, and took note of the observance in February of World Interfaith Harmony Week, which King Abdullah II of Jordan first proposed at the UN in 2010.

Canada: Foreign Minister John Baird, M.P., said countering terrorism is the challenge of our generation, and the GCTF, with its inclusive membership and action-oriented mandate, will help meet this challenge. He noted that Canada has provided training, equipment, and financial support to counterterrorism efforts abroad, adding that this support is helping improve law enforcement, increase security, bolster military capacity, complement intelligence training, strengthen borders, and make transportation networks more secure. He said Canada has mobilized more than $66 million for these endeavors and is committing an additional $13 million from 2011-12. Minister Baird said Canada has made the Sahel region of Africa a priority for capacity building and offered to co-chair the Sahel Working Group of the GCTF with Algeria.

Morocco: Foreign Minister Taïb Fassi Fihri took note of the many successes against terrorism over the last decade in stating that the regional diversity, experience, and tradition of cooperation of the GCTF members are assets for the Forum’s success. He said the launch deliverables and the regional and thematic Working Groups show the practical, action-oriented focus of the GCTF. Minister Fihri noted that Morocco’s counterterrorism strategy takes account of political, economic, social, educational, and religious factors. He proposed that the GCTF consider a working group on the Atlantic area, noting that terrorist groups are trying to connect the Atlantic to the Red Sea by coordinating their actions. Minister Fihri reiterated Morocco’s readiness to contribute actively to the GCTF and offered to host a number of GCTF activities, including: a regional seminar on the role of the media in the fight against terrorism; a regional workshop on the role of judges in the fight against terrorism; and a regional conference on combating terrorism in prisons.

The Netherlands: Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal said the GCTF would help provide needed solidarity against terrorist groups and networks. He said the Netherlands could play a concrete role in the GCTF, especially on the preventive side, taking note of his country’s programs on countering radicalization and violent extremism as well as its efforts to prevent terrorist financing and to improve airport security and border controls. He said the Forum will deepen respect for the rule of law and human rights as elements of counterterrorism.

Germany: Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said recent terrorist attacks around the world, as well as the arrest in Berlin of two men on suspicion of acquiring material to manufacture explosives, highlight the continuing need to be vigilant. He noted that the GCTF’s membership shows that international solidarity in countering terrorism is not confined to a certain region or religious belief. Minister Westerwelle said Germany believes respecting human rights and the rule of law while combating terrorism is crucial for effectiveness. He welcomed the creation of a working group on the criminal justice sector and the rule of law, and noted that close cooperation with the UN system will enhance acceptance of the Forum. Minister Westerwelle said the GCTF will achieve the combination of political solidarity and professional expertise necessary to defeat terrorism in the long run, and said Germany will be an active partner.

Japan: Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said terrorism is a threat for humanity as a whole, transcending national boundaries, and thus results are achievable only through a concerted approach by the international community, not just a subset of countries. Noting Japan’s $47 million of counterterrorism capacity-building assistance since fiscal 2010, Minister Gemba said Japan will continue to actively contribute to counterterrorism efforts, and will be proactively engaged in the Forum’s activities and development.

Switzerland: President Micheline Calmy-Rey, in recorded remarks, said progress against terrorism can only be achieved in a comprehensive and coordinated manner based on rule of law and respect for human rights. Noting that close relationships among the GCTF, the UN, and regional actors are critical to success, she announced Switzerland is organizing a meeting of GCTF members, the UN, and other international and regional organizations early in 2012.

New Zealand: Minister of Justice Simon Power said New Zealand employs a multidimensional counterterrorism strategy that includes support for security, stabilization, diplomatic and development engagement, law enforcement cooperation, and capacity building, with a focus in the field on practical work with partners in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. He said New Zealand also has established a robust domestic counterterrorism framework and works with faith communities and ethnic minorities to encourage their full participation in society. Minister Power said New Zealand looks forward to playing an active role in the GCTF, which it believes will provide an excellent platform for enhancing cooperation against terrorism and supporting implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

Indonesia: Head of the Indonesian National Counter Terrorism Agency Ansyaad Mbai delivered remarks on behalf of Foreign Minister R.M. Marty M. Natalegawa. Mr. Mbai said the GCTF's focus on building capacity, political will, and practitioner networks makes it a useful complement to the work of the UN. He said Indonesia was pleased and honored to be a member of the GCTF and to offer itself as co-chair, with Australia, of the Southeast Asia Working Group.

Algeria: Minister Delegate for Maghreb and African Affairs Abdelkader Messahel said his country's experience fighting terrorism in the 1990s shows that political will and pertinent and efficient tools are necessary. He said the GCTF will complement and strengthen the efforts of the UN and regional organizations. Minister Messahel said that as co-chair, with Canada, of the GCTF Sahel Capacity Building Working Group, Algeria will spare no effort in making the group a success. He noted that Algeria had recently convened a conference on security and development in the Sahel and said the conclusions of that conference could enrich the GCTF Sahel Working Group, which will hold its first meeting in Algiers on November 16-17, 2011.

Spain: Secretary of State for Foreign and Ibero-American Affairs Juan Antonio Yanez-Barnuevo Garcia said the GCTF will launch an open, ongoing discussion that will enable members to share more intelligence, coordinate international cooperation policies, and draft best practices and recommendations in counterterrorism. Taking note of the UN Counter-Terrorism Strategy and relevant UN Security Council resolutions, State Secretary Yáñez-Barnuevo Garcia said it will be essential for UN agencies to take part in GCTF efforts. He also asked the GCTF to consider establishing a working group on assisting the victims of terrorism. Noting Spain‟s capacity-building programs around the world, State Secretary Yáñez-Barnuevo Garcia said Spain has shown how it is possible to use a robust legal framework, rule of law, international cooperation, and assistance for victims as tools to defeat terrorism. He also announced that Spain is supporting some 10 million Euros in programs to support rule of law-related counterterrorism capacity building projects in the Mediterranean, the Sahel, and West Africa.

United Kingdom: Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt, M.P., said that while a new spirit of counterterrorism cooperation emerged after the attacks of September 11, 2001, and the world is better equipped to deal with terrorism than ever before, the terrorist threat has evolved, requiring continued effort. Citing the importance of preventing people supporting or becoming terrorists, he said the United Kingdom stands ready to co-chair the GCTF Countering Violent Extremism Working Group. Minister Burt welcomed the adoption of the Cairo Declaration, with its emphasis on human rights and the rule of law, and said the world needs to support new counterterrorism initiatives in the Middle East and North Africa in order to help protect the gains of democratic regimes in the region.

France: Ministry of Foreign Affairs Deputy Head for Strategic Affairs and Transnational Threats Alexandre Garcia said the establishment of the GCTF sends a clear message that faced with the common threat of terrorism, our differences will not divide us. He said the GCTF will be a valuable complement to efforts under the UN counterterrorism framework. Garcia noted that with the death of key terrorist leaders and the fragmentation of al-Qaida, the main challenge is to regionalize our counterterrorism efforts, adding that a regional approach will help strengthen the capacity of frontline states. He said upholding human rights and the rule of law must be at the heart of all we do in countering terrorism. He noted the role of the UN Millennium Development Goals in countering violent extremism. Garcia also cited the Deauville Partnership under the Group of Eight (G-8) as part of the effort to help Middle Eastern and North African states make the transition to democracy, noting that it shares with the GCTF an approach based on dialogue, free commitment, and respect for national sovereignty.

Colombia: Permanent Mission to the UN Counsellor Isaura Duarte said the recent attacks in Norway show no one is exempt from terrorism and there is a need for a coordinated approach to this challenge that complements the work of the UN. She said countries such as Colombia with the unfortunate experience of having dealt with terrorism have best practices that they can share through the GCTF. She said Colombia looked forward in particular to participating in the GCTF Criminal Justice/Rule of Law Working Group because there is a need to strengthen democratic institutions and the capacity of member states, adding that Colombia wants to learn from others.

Australia: Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassador for Counter-Terrorism William Paterson said the GCTF is a timely and creative contribution that will help members get beyond an intelligence-led response in order to address the drivers of terrorism. Observing that a transnational threat like terrorism compels a transnational response, he said Australia looks forward to co-chairing the Southeast Asia Working Group with Indonesia. He said the Forum should continue to highlight the voices of victims and welcomed the adoption of the Cairo Declaration, noting that the rule of law is a critical tool for fighting terrorism. Ambassador Paterson said Australia is pleased to have worked with UN agencies in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, and he said Australia has both a lot to share and a lot to learn.

India: Ministry of External Affairs Additional Secretary Asoke Mukerji welcomed the adoption of the GCTF founding documents, noting that as a victim of terrorism for three decades, India is committed to fighting terrorism and stands ready to share its experience in the GCTF. He said international cooperation is critical in sharing information, coordinating action, and building capacity to fight terror. Additional Secretary Mukerji said there is an urgent need to strengthen the international legal framework, which is why India proposed adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in the UN. He said that as the chair of the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee, India places the highest importance on countering terrorism through cooperation in the UN and through the use of UN legal instruments.