Today, I had the pleasure of joining Secretary Kerry as he kicked off the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) Fourth Ministerial Plenary.
We launched the Forum in 2011 with 28 other member countries and the EU. With the terrorist threat spreading to new regions -- as we tragically saw this week in Kenya -- we needed a nimble, multilateral forum to bring together Western donors, front-line states, and emerging powers -- one that emphasizes results over rhetoric to advance a long-term, strategic counterterrorism approach. The goal was to establish an apolitical, technical body, where counterterrorism policymakers and practitioners from different national departments and agencies could come together to set priorities, mobilize resources, and do the essential work of assisting partners to build capacity and counter violent extremism.
In two short years, the GCTF has had an impact and has become the “go-to” international venue for civilian-led counterterrorism cooperation.
Continuing this momentum, I’m excited about this morning’s announcement of several new GCTF initiatives aimed at addressing some critical counterterrorism challenges of the 21st century. Secretary Kerry announced that work will begin to establish a new and particularly exciting GCTF initiative, the Global Fund on Community Engagement and Resilience. The first-ever public-private global fund to support grass-roots efforts to counter violent extremism (CVE), the Global Fund’s mission is as clear as it is compelling: to leverage public and private funding to support local, community-driven CVE efforts.
Just the other day, a colleague noted that the proposed Global Fund, if designed and funded properly, would take counterterrorism to a new and different level -- not up, but down…down to the communities that are most at-risk and most able to do something effective about it, giving them ownership of the problem and recognizing their role as part of the solution. Research and experience has shown that CVE efforts are most likely to succeed and endure when owned and implemented by local civil society or local government partners.
What might the Fund look like? We’re talking about grants that provide life skills and vocational training to youth at risk of recruitment and radicalization. We’re talking about delivering new school curricula that teaches tolerance, problem-solving, and civic activism. We’re talking about training local leaders, religious figures, social workers, and women in community engagement techniques; and creating websites and social networks to educate youth about the dangers of violent extremist ideologies.
We’ve already seen firsthand the impact that global funds have made on today’s major global challenges, such as the fight against AIDs, malaria, and tuberculosis. I believe now’s the right time to adapt this proven model and bring together a community of stakeholders – from governments, the private sector, NGOs, and civil society leaders -- to identify and finance local projects that’ll address radicalization in a strategic way.
With its diverse membership, emphasis on results, and focus on mobilizing expertise and resources globally to develop innovative CVE solutions, the GCTF provides the ideal platform to launch the Fund. I’m excited about the GCTF’s new initiative, and the positive impact this Global Fund, once established, will have on countering the terrorist threat.
About the Author: Eric Rosand serves as a senior advisor and Global Counterterrorism Forum Coordinator in the Bureau of Counterterrorism at the State Department.