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Co-Chairs Fact Sheet: About the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF)

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Fact Sheet
Bureau of Counterterrorism
December 14, 2012


Below is the text of the Fact Sheet issued by the Co-Chairs (Turkey and the United States) of the Global Counterterrorism Forum for the December 14, 2012, GCTF Ministerial-Level Plenary in Abu Dhabi.

What: The GCTF is an informal, multilateral counterterrorism (CT) platform that focuses on identifying critical civilian CT needs, mobilizing the necessary expertise and resources to address such needs and enhance global cooperation. Launched by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on 22 September 2011, the Forum, with its 30 founding members (29 countries and the EU), regularly convenes key CT policymakers and practitioners from nations around the world, as well as experts from the United Nations and other multilateral bodies. It aims to strengthen 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 CT challenges facing civilian institutions. With its primary focus on countering violent extremism and strengthening criminal justice and other rule of law institutions that deal with terrorism, the GCTF aims to diminish terrorist recruitment and increase countries’ capabilities for dealing with terrorist 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. The 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 of Africa 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 (UN) is a close partner of the GCTF and a regular participant in its activities. The GCTF takes a central part of its mission the implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and, more broadly, its work 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, which demonstrated from its inception the Forum’s action-oriented approach: 1) The Cairo Declaration on Counterterrorism and the Rule of Law and $90 million to support CT-related strengthening of criminal justice systems, with a particular focus on countries in transition; and 2) the UAE’s declaration of its intention to open in Abu Dhabi the first-ever international center for training, dialogue, research and collaboration on countering violent extremism in the fall of 2012.

June 2012 Ministerial: A number of deliverables were announced at the ministerial meeting in Istanbul in the Forum’s two areas of strategic priority. These included the adoption of two sets of good practices. One set focuses on the criminal justice sector (the Rabat Memorandum on Good Practices for Effective Counterterrorism Practice in the Criminal Justice Sector) and the other on prisons (the Rome Memorandum on Good Practices for Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Violent Extremist Offenders). These documents are designed to serve as practical guides for implementing CT-related capacity-building activities in the criminal justice sphere.

The Rabat Memorandum includes a set of good practices for police, prosecutors, judges, and other criminal justice officials to implement and promote a rule of law-based criminal justice sector response to terrorism. These good practices form the basis for many of the criminal justice-related CT capacity-building efforts of GCTF members and partners.

The Rome Memorandum emphasizes the importance of a rule of law-based approach to the management of prisons, which are among the most notorious incubators of violent extremism. The document notes that programs focused on rehabilitation of violent extremist offenders are only likely to succeed when they are set in an environment that is safe, secure, and well-regulated. This document is being used as the basis for technical assistance and other bilateral and UN-led capacity-building programs that the GCTF is helping to develop and support.

In addition, GCTF members announced an additional $85 million in capacity-building projects, including a number involving the UN and other multilateral bodies, to support the implementation of these good practices documents.

Finally, Tunisian Foreign Minister Rafik Abdessalem announced that Tunisia would host the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law. The Institute will be dedicated to providing interested governments with the training necessary to strengthen criminal justice and other rule of law institutions. Some GCTF members have already expressed their interest in providing financial and expert support to the development of the Institute and are now working closely with the Tunisian government so the Institute can become operational by the end of 2014.

GCTF Activities To-Date
(Detailed information on these activities is available at www.thegctf.org):

Coordinating Committee
Official Launch and Inaugural Coordinating Committee, New York, 22-23 September 2011
Second Coordinating Committee and Ministerial, Istanbul, 7-8 June 2012
Third Coordinating Committee and Ministerial, Abu Dhabi, 13-14 December 2012

Sahel Capacity-Building Working Group
Inaugural Working Group Meeting, Algiers, 16-17 November 2011
Technical Expert-Level Meeting on Border Security, Niamey, 15-16 May 2012

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