Clinton Launches New Counterterrorism Partnership
By Stephen Kaufman
Washington - With the goal of preventing the creation of more victims of terrorism, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton joined foreign ministers from 30 countries in launching the Global Counterterrorism Forum, designed to provide a venue for countries to collaborate on strengthening the capacities of governments, civil society groups and others to prevent and address terrorist threats.
Clinton was joined by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York September 22. She said that with advances in technology, communications and travel, terrorism's targeting of innocent civilians has become a threat to everyone around the world.
"No country can afford to sit on the sidelines in the face of this threat, and no country can afford to go it alone," Clinton said .
The countries launching the forum are in agreement that the international community needs "a dedicated global venue to regularly convene key counterterrorism policymakers and practitioners from around the world - a place to identify essential priorities, devise solutions and chart a path to implementation," she said.
Each country has its own expertise to contribute to the forum, the secretary said. Although circumstances vary from place to place, there is much that countries can learn from each other.
"Our work here has the potential to have a double impact: improving the coordination of counterterrorism efforts across borders and between regions, and also helping countries address terrorist threats within their own borders," she said.
The forum can help frontline states that face the most acute terror threats to develop justice systems that are rooted in the rule of law and respect universal human rights while remaining effective against violent extremism, she said.
It can also deepen the understanding of how individuals become radicalized and are recruited into terror organizations, allowing countries to disrupt those efforts and deny support for violent activities. Clinton said it can help improve coordination and build "new working-level partnerships between our law enforcement, intelligence, customs and judiciary officials who deal with these problems on the ground every day."
The launch of the forum "is just the beginning," she said. Its success "depends on the willingness of all of us, the members, to step up and engage."
"We don't need another debating society. We need a catalyst for action," Clinton said.
FORUM'S "REAL ACTION" IN WORKING GROUPS
A senior State Department official who asked not to be identified told reporters September 21 that the forum brings together wealthy donor nations, Muslim-majority nations, emerging powers such as China and India, and representatives from South America and Africa. He said "the real action" of the forum will take place in its working groups.
Five working groups have been created, the official said . Two are functional - one concerning the criminal justice sector and the rule of law, and the other on countering violent extremism. Three regional groups are dedicated to building counterterrorism capacity in the African regions of the Sahel and the Horn of Africa and in Southeast Asia.
The official said these are regions where there are already existing networks of collaboration against terrorism and efforts under way to strengthen the rule of law and combat extremist ideology.
"It's places like that where I think you can put points on the board early, and we want to get some real momentum behind this organization," the official said.
The official added that countries in North Africa and the Middle East that are transitioning from restrictive emergency laws toward greater freedom are the ones who will be "particular beneficiaries" of the forum's work, because the repressive tactics of former regimes "were, in fact, drivers of radicalization and contributed to the problems we face today."
The official said the Obama administration is expected to announce that it is giving between $75 million and $100 million to countries that are working to strengthen the rule of law.
The funds will help ensure that "their police are properly trained to deal with counterterrorism ... their prosecutors know how to bring cases against terrorists ... their judges can handle terrorism cases ... their legislators can write the necessary legislation so that they have what they need to deal with this in their judicial system." The money will also fund rehabilitation programs and improve prisons so former inmates will be separated from extremist organizations.
In addition, the official said, the forum intends to establish a Global Center of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism that will provide countries with "the training they need to do their own programs at home and configure their own policies, so that as they fight terrorism they're not creating more extremists along the way."
The Abu Dhabi-based center will train community leaders and nongovernmental organizations as well as government officials. The official said it is expected to open its doors in 2012.
(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.)