Global counter-terrorism forum launched in NY

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday formally launched the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), a new multilateral body with 30 founder members, including the US, India and the European Union. Pakistan is also a member of the new venture.

The Obama administration has projected the GCTF as a major initiative to build the international architecture for dealing with 21st century terrorism. It will provide a unique platform for senior counterterrorism policymakers and experts from around the world to work together to identify urgent needs, devise solutions and mobilise resources for addressing key counterterrorism challenges, says the State Department.

With its primary focus on capacity building in relevant areas, the GCTF aims to increase the number of countries capable of dealing with the terrorist threats within their borders and regions.

At a background briefing, a State Department official cast the GCTF as a body to create something that doesn’t exist on the international landscape.

“It’s supposed to create a venue where partners can come together and identify urgent needs in counterterrorism around the world, devise solutions and we can talk about the role of experts in this in a bit, because they’re really at the heart of this and mobilise the resources to implement those solutions,” the official said.

“It is meant to be, from the get-go, a nimble, action-oriented organisation. And it is meant to really move past some of the debates that have paralysed — or inhibited, at least multilateral institutions in the past from dealing with counterterrorism, specifically the endless debate over who is a terrorist,” the official said.

The new initiative has reportedly been built on the failure of earlier efforts. The G-8, for instance, had the Counterterrorism Action Group, but it never realised its founding vision.

“With that in mind, we understood that to make something like this work, it had to be a group that brought together wealthy donor nations, principally in the West — Japan, Australia — and Muslim-majority nations who — many of whom are on the front lines,” the official explained.

The forum’s members also include China, Russia and 11 Muslim majority nations.