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Global Counterterrorism Forum launches new initiatives

The Seventh Ministerial Plenary Meeting of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), co-chaired by the Netherlands and Morocco, took place recently in New York.

Founded in 2011, the GCTF is a multilateral counterterrorism platform focusing on identifying critical civilian counterterrorism needs, mobilizing the necessary expertise and resources to address such needs, and enhancing global cooperation. The Forum, with its 30 members (29 countries and the European Union), regularly convenes key policymakers and practitioners from nations around the world, as well as experts from the UN and other multilateral bodies.

With its primary focus on countering violent extremism (CVE) 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.

At the Ministerial, the United States presented two new initiatives. The first, in partnership with Turkey, is the initiative on ‘The Protection of Soft Targets in a Counterterrorism Context’. Under the auspices of the GCTF, the potentially life-saving soft targets initiative has two objectives: to raise awareness, identify needs, and leverage the expertise and experience of governments and industry to better protect potential soft targets, such as restaurants, sports arenas, hotels etc from extremist attack.

The initiative would also aim to develop a set of internationally-recognized, non-binding good practices, which can serve as the basis for international engagement, assistance, and training to enhance the security and resilience of sites that are potential soft targets.

The second initiative is a ‘Dialogue on Countering Foreign Terrorist Fighters and Radicalization to Violence in Central Asia’. This idea grew out of discussions with all five governments in that region and reflects the high priority that both they – and members of the Forum - attach to the issue. The Central Asia initiative will seek to counter the challenges of foreign terrorist fighters and radicalization to violence in Central Asia. The dialogue will bring together policymakers and subject-matter experts from Central Asia and abroad to share perspectives on the threat of foreign terrorist fighters, including best practices and regional approaches for countering the radicalization, departure, and return of fighters. The dialogue will also work to implement The Hague-Marrakech Memorandum on Good Practices for a More Effective Response to the Foreign Terrorist Fighter Phenomenon.

The GCTF Ministerial also saw the formal launch of the International Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism Capacity-Building Clearinghouse Mechanism (ICCM), another web-based tool that provides donors and recipients with an up-to-date database of recent/ongoing counterterrorism and CVE capacity-building assistance efforts. Kenya, Nigeria, and Tunisia are serving as the pilot countries for the ICCM, which will help identify gaps in programming and de-conflict overlapping programs, allowing donors and recipients to optimize assistance. The mechanism will then mobilize and coordinate donor resources as an international counterterrorism/CVE capacity-building clearinghouse to address identified needs, based on non-binding recommendations.

Source: U.S. Department of State

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