In the two decades since the 9/11 attacks, terrorist networks have become more global and interconnected even as they remain locally tethered. The transnational and localized nature of the threat underscores the continued importance of international cooperation in all aspects of a response. This report explores the work of the Global Counterterrorism Forum, launched in 2011 to energize such cooperation, and how best to position it for an effective and far-reaching future.

GCTF representatives pose for a group photo at the ministerial plenary meeting in Istanbul on June 7, 2012. (Saul Loeb/AP)
GCTF representatives pose for a group photo at the ministerial plenary meeting in Istanbul on June 7, 2012. (Saul Loeb/AP)

Summary

  • Since 2011, when the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) was launched as the first dedicated global counterterrorism platform, it has helped catalyze more dynamic and practical cooperation on counterterrorism among a more diverse set of government and nongovernmental stakeholders and an enhanced role for the United Nations.
  • In its first nine years, the forum has succeeded in developing numerous good practices for practitioners, helping create three institutions to implement priorities, and incubating ideas for UN action.
  • The GCTF has been less effective in promoting and supporting implementation of its guidance and building partnerships at the local level.
  • The future of the GCTF should be informed by the broader multilateral architecture on counterterrorism that has evolved since 2011 and the need to connect to and support local actors, which now play a much more important role in responding to and preventing terrorism and violent extremism.
  • Its members should consider three core recommendations: narrowing the scope of activities; building new and strengthening existing partnerships with regional and local stakeholders; and prioritizing cooperation, collaboration, and engagement.

About the Report

This report examines the work and achievements of the Global Counterterrorism Forum since its launch in 2011 and how it can be best positioned for the next decade of counterterrorism and preventing and countering violent extremism efforts. Informed by interviews, conversations, and survey responses, as well as an off-the-record experts’ roundtable, it was supported by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Counterterrorism.

About the Author

Eric Rosand is the director of the Prevention Project, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and a senior associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute. As a senior official at the U.S. Department of State from 2010 to 2016, he played a leading role in launching the Global Counterterrorism Forum and other institutions and initiatives on preventing and countering violent extremism.

 

Related Publications

To End ISIS, We Must Find Futures for Its Survivors

To End ISIS, We Must Find Futures for Its Survivors

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

By: Chris Bosley

At age 15, Shamima Begum ran away from home in England and, with two girlfriends, ventured into Syria’s war to join ISIS. Within days, she was married to an ISIS fighter; she has since had three children, all of whom have died. Begum, one of 70,000 former residents of the ISIS-declared state now confined in a displacement camp in Syria’s desert, is asking a British court to overturn a government order that stripped her of her citizenship. As nations worldwide seek justice, accountability—and their own security from ISIS’ violent extremism—Begum’s story shows how a “peacebuilding” approach is needed.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Violent Extremism; Reconciliation

ISIS Determined to Make a Comeback—How Can it Be Stopped?

ISIS Determined to Make a Comeback—How Can it Be Stopped?

Thursday, August 13, 2020

By: Ashish Kumar Sen

The Islamic State (ISIS), which was driven from its strongholds in Syria and Iraq over a year ago, is determined to regain territory in the region. It will take a combination of military and financial pressure, attention to public grievances, and the repatriation and rehabilitation of people who lived or fought with ISIS—as well as those who were subjugated by them—to foil the militant group’s ambitions, according to senior U.S. officials. This already tall ask has been made even more challenging by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Violent Extremism

Disengagement and Reconciliation in Conflict-Affected Settings

Disengagement and Reconciliation in Conflict-Affected Settings

Friday, August 7, 2020

By: Leanne Erdberg Steadman

Even in brutal and desperate conflict settings, it is possible for people to abandon violence and leave violent groups. Peacebuilders know this well—yet terrorism and counterterrorism policies and practices have often neglected practical ways to address participants in violent extremism and failed to provide them opportunities to reject violence. This report examines how peacebuilding tools can help transform the individual attitudes, group relationships, and social ecosystems and structures needed to facilitate the effective disengagement and reconciliation of former members of violent extremist groups.

Type: Special Report

Violent Extremism

Violent Extremist Disengagement and Reconciliation: A Peacebuilding Approach

Violent Extremist Disengagement and Reconciliation: A Peacebuilding Approach

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

By: Chris Bosley

Existing efforts to disengage people from violent extremism are derived from security imperatives rather than from a peacebuilding ethos. This report—one of a series to be published by USIP’s program on violent extremism—presents a framework through which peacebuilders can foster disengagement from violent extremism and reconciliation between those disengaging and affected communities by examining the individual, social, and structural dynamics involved.

Type: Peaceworks

Violent Extremism

View All Publications