Global Counterterrorism Forum

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The Global Counterterrorism Forum is an informal, apolitical, multilateral counter-terrorism (CT) platform that was launched officially in New York on 22 September 2011.

The GCTF’s goal is to strengthen capabilities in order to develop a strategic, long-term approach to counter terrorism and prevent the violent extremist ideologies that underpin it. The GCTF’s mission is to diminish terrorist recruitment and increase countries’ civilian capabilities for dealing with terrorist threats within their borders and regions.

Currently co-chaired by the Netherlands and Morocco, the GCTF has 30 founding members. The Forum works with partners around the globe to identify critical civilian needs to effectively counter terrorism, mobilize the necessary expertise and resources to address such needs, and enhance global CT cooperation. One of the key goals of the GCTF is to support and catalyze implementation of the United Nations (UN) Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, and the UN’s CT work more broadly, including the UN Secretary-General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism that was presented to the UN General Assembly in January 2016. In pursuance of this goal, the GCTF works closely with UN bodies and with other relevant international and regional organizations, to reinforce, complement, and support multilateral CT and Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) efforts.

The GCTF’s Coordinating Committee, which meets twice per year, oversees the activities of the six Working Groups and the Administrative Unit, and provides strategic guidance on how best to address the evolving terrorist threat. Chaired by the GCTF Co-Chairs, the Coordinating Committee consists of all GCTF members, represented by their national counterterrorism coordinator and/or other senior CT policy-makers.

GCTF activities led to the elaboration and adoption, by GCTF members, of framework documents consisting of good practices, recommendations, and action plans, which address a variety of salient CT and CVE topics. The outcome documents of the forum are non-binding and not intended to create legal obligations for national governments.


The GCTF has 30 members. Non-member states and organizations are regularly invited to partner with and participate in GCTF workshops and activities, and to provide input into GCTF framework documents and tools. Since 2011, countless non-GCTF member states and non-member organizations – including multilateral and non-governmental organizations and institutions at the international, regional and local levels – have participated in the Forum’s activities and work.

The 30 members of the GCTF are:

Working Groups[edit]

The GCTF has six Working Groups, four of which are thematic (Countering Violent Extremism; Criminal Justice and the Rule of Law; Foreign Terrorist Fighters; and Detention and Reintegration) and two which are geographic, focusing on capacity-building in the key regions of the Sahel and the Horn of Africa. All Working Groups seek to identify relevant civilian counterterrorism challenges and capacity gaps or needs; consider activities to address these gaps or needs; and mobilize political will, financial resources, and expertise to implement those activities.

Countering Violent Extremism[edit]

Co-Chaired by the United Arab Emirates and United Kingdom, the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Working Group focuses on diminishing radicalization and recruitment to terrorism through internationally-, regionally-, nationally- and locally owned and relevant approaches to CVE. The Working Group has joined with partners (states and organizations) to promote and advance the understanding of community engagement, community oriented policing, the roles of women and the community in CVE, and the role of religious education in CVE. It is also encouraging the implementation of relevant GCTF documents and tools, through supporting the development of National Action Plans (in line with the vision of the UN Secretary-General’s Plan of Action on Preventing Violent Extremism) and through the promotion of joint initiatives with other GCTF Working Groups, including on strategic communications and de-radicalization and counter-narrative programs in prisons.

Criminal Justice and the Rule of Law[edit]

Co-Chaired by Egypt and the United States, the Criminal Justice and Rule of Law (CJ-ROL) Working Group focuses on the critical role played by the criminal justice sector in combating terrorism, and demonstrates the Forum’s commitment to support rule-of-law based and human rights compliant approaches.

Working Group initiatives focus on developing and supporting good practices and capacity building initiatives for an effective and rule of law-based criminal justice sector response to terrorism.

Detention & Reintegration[edit]

Co-chaired by Australia and Indonesia, the Detention and Reintegration (DR) Working Group facilitates cooperation, capacity-building, awareness raising, information sharing, marshalling of resources to respond to emerging issues, and the development of good practices to help corrections and counter-terrorism officials integrate prisons into national counter-terrorism arrangements and better manage terrorist detainees.

The Working Group focuses on understanding and addressing the issues that arise from the incarceration and eventual release of violent extremists, and the motivations behind violent extremist offenders, which often differs greatly from that of common criminals. The Working Group serves as a platform to discuss possible cooperation among countries on these issues, including strengthening the capacities of prison management systems through technical assistance and developing good practices to guide practitioners and policy-makers. 'If you'd like more information on this subject or the related GCTF documents please visit:

Foreign Terrorist Fighters[edit]

Co-chaired by Morocco and the Netherlands, the “Foreign Terrorist Fighters” (FTF) Working Group addresses the ongoing and salient challenges presented by the FTF phenomenon. . The Working Group was established following an initiative led by Morocco and the Netherlands. It provides a critical platform for developing practical initiatives to help coordinate and build on the efforts at the national-, regional- and international-levels to stem the flow of FTFs and address the complex issues related to their return. 'If you'd like more information on this subject or the related GCTF documents please visit:

Horn of Africa Capacity-Building[edit]

Co-chaired by the European Union and Turkey, the Horn of Africa (HOA) Capacity-Building Working Group aims to build capacity to counter terrorism and violent extremism in the region, by identifying and bridging capacity-building gaps. It provides a forum for information exchange, networking, and cooperation among a variety of stakeholders to promote dialogue, understanding, sharing of analysis and lessons learned, and collaborative partnerships in the region and beyond. The Working Group has expanded its focus from anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism, to include strengthening rule of law-based CT investigations and prosecutorial capacity, CVE, and the FTF phenomenon.

Sahel Region Capacity-Building[edit]

Co-chaired by Algeria and Canada, the Sahel Region Capacity Building (Sahel) Working Group promotes regional and international cooperation and provides a venue for experts to discuss capacity-building gaps specific to the Sahel region and identifying solutions. The Working Group border security, building criminal justice, legal and judicial cooperation, police cooperation, countering the financing of terrorism and countering violent extremism through increased community engagement as the priority areas for the period ahead.

Cross-Cutting Initiatives[edit]

The threat from terrorism is complex, dynamic and evolving, and the tools and measures we use to counter and respond to this threat must keep pace. That is why, in addition to the initiatives of the six GCTF Working Groups, the Forum is also focusing on a number of overarching and cross-cutting issues, including:

Border Security Initiative[edit]

In light of the challenges posed by porous borders, states recognize the importance of securing these borders and the need for cross-border cooperation that allows inter-agency, neighboring border security agencies and border communities to collaborate with one another in a holistic way. A multilateral, coordinated approach to border management is integral to addressing the myriad of threats and challenges each State faces individually.

The Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) and the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT) jointly established the Border Security Initiative (BSI), co-led by the United States and Morocco which aims to assist UN Member States’ implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and relevant Security Council resolutions including 1373 (2001), 1624 (2005), 2129 (2013), and 2178 (2014), and to address the overall challenges that permeable borders pose, in particular long remote green border areas between States.

The activities held under the auspices of the BSI, which focused on two regions, namely Horn of Africa and the Sahel, provided the opportunity for experts to present lessons learned and effective mechanisms for border security management (BSM) and to identify the good practices in the area of cross-border cooperation and border community engagement. This led to the development of the Good Practices in the Area of Border Security and Management in the Context of Counterterrorism and Stemming the Flow of Foreign Terrorist Fighters, an outcome of this initiative, which will be presented for adoption at the Seventh Ministerial Plenary Meeting in New York in September 2016.

These good practices are intended to inform and guide governments as they develop policies, programs, and approaches for effective BSM, cross-border cooperation, and border surveillance in a counterterrorism context. They can also be used to shape bilateral or multilateral technical or other capacity-building assistance provide in these areas.

International Counterterrorism/Countering Violent Extremism Clearinghouse Mechanism[edit]

Consistent with the GCTF’s founding vision to include a civilian-focused, capacity-building coordination and clearinghouse role for the Forum, at the Sixth Ministerial Meeting in September 2015, Turkey and the United States announced the launch of a two-year pilot program for an International Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism Capacity-Building Clearinghouse Mechanism (ICCM).

Partners and Outreach[edit]

In addition to the contributions of its members, the GCTF’s strength lies in innovative, flexible partnerships and coordination with non-member states, UN bodies, other international and regional multilateral organizations and fora, and implementing partners. Relevant non-members states and other stakeholders are regularly invited by the relevant GCTF Working Group Co-chairs to participate in Working Group meetings or activities.

Inspired Institutions[edit]


The Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF), based in Geneva, Switzerland, is the first global effort to support local, community-level initiatives aimed at strengthening resilience against violent extremism in states where support is most needed. As a public-private partnership operating at the nexus of security and development, GCERF works with governments, civil society, the private sector, and the international community in beneficiary countries to support national strategies to address the local drivers of violent extremism. Approximately USD 15 million has already been committed to projects in the pilot states Bangladesh, Mali, and Nigeria. In 2016, GCERF has started working in Kenya and Kosovo. GCERF aims to raise more than USD 200 million over the next 10 years to provide grants to local, grass-roots organizations implementing CVE-focused projects. Twelve countries and the EU have already pledged USD 25 million, while other stakeholders have also provided in-kind support.

GCERF serves as a platform for Pillar I by addressing conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism More information about GCERF is available on


Hedayah, the International Center of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, is a key operational delivery arm for the Forum’s CVE efforts. It is an essential partner in the development and implementation of the Abu Dhabi Memorandum on Good Practices for Education and Countering Violent Extremism, including through the ongoing GCTF-OIC initiative on CVE and religious education. In addition, Hedayah manages the Catalogue of FTF-related CVE and Returnee Programs under the auspices of the FTF Working Group, which serves as a living resource for interested states.

Hedayah serves as a platform for Pillar I of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy by addressing conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism More information about Hedayah is available on

International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJ)[edit]

The International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJ), based in Valletta, Malta, has provided invaluable support to the GCTF, and continues to do so through the development and implementation of GCTF good practices and memoranda and other initiatives with criminal justice practitioners and experts, including support of the Neuchâtel Memorandum on Good Practices for Juvenile Justice in a Counterterrorism Context and the Recommendations Relating to Contributions by Parliamentarians in Developing an Effective Response to Terrorism. In 2016, the IIJ continued to promote implementation of the GCTF good practices, including training judges and prosecutors on how to address terrorism-related activities within a rule of law framework. The IIJ supports Pillar IV of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy by developing curricula that emphasize respect for human rights and the rule of law as the fundamental basis of the fight against terrorism.


External links[edit]

Official website