Global Counterterrorism Forum

Speech by Bert Koenders, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands at the Global Counterterrorism Forum meeting, New York, 27 September 2015


  • Your Excellences, it is a tremendous honour to take over from the US as co-chair.

  • I thank the US and Turkish Co-Chairs for your excellent work, establishing the GCTF as the leading counter-terrorism forum.

  • Under your leadership the GCTF has become a trailblazer, with 30 members leading from the front to cooperate in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism.

  • Terrorism knows no boundaries, moral nor geographic. Terrorist groups around the globe - some masquerading as religious movements - are challenging our beliefs and values.

  • There is no other option than to act collectively against those who behead innocent civilians, destroy our cultural heritage, enslave woman and abuse children.

  • [As SoS Kerry mentioned] The GCTF has delivered results:

    • We paved the way for UN Security Council Resolution 2178 on Foreign Terrorist Fighters and Resolution 2133 on Kidnapping for Ransom.

    • We inspired the establishment of three leading institutions: Hedayah, the IIJ [International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law] and GCERF [G – SURF) (The Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund].

    • The GCTF has mobilized more than 300 [three hundred million US dollars] in support for programmes

[NL co-chairmanship]

  • The challenge is now to put good practices and the many papers into action.

  • I realize that we will have to overcome the idea that the GCTF is neither a legislator nor a law enforcer. Our work is non-binding. That is the strength and weakness of our cooperation.

  • I look forward to working with co-chair Turkey and future co-chair Morocco to keep the GCTF the leading platform.

  • In Spring 2016 we will present an Action Plan, based on the following priorities, summed up in ‘5Rs’: results, resources, reinforcement, relations and renewal.

It is time to put the multilateral work into our national strategies. I commend Spain for successfully using GCTF Good Practices as a frame of reference for their national plan to combat violent radicalization.

The Netherlands and Morocco as FTF Working Group Co-chairs have kick-started a knowledge hub on FTF trends and statistics, we have developed a catalogue on FTF programmes, and we have enhanced collaboration sharing with Interpol.

The Counter-ISIL coalition is also rightly picking the fruits of our work. < >: A strong political commitment is not enough. I call on you: we have to put the money where our mouth is.

Combatting international terrorism does not come on the cheap. Today I announce that The Netherlands will contribute € 500.000 – a half of a million – to GCERF [G-SURF] and strengthen our commitment with Hedayah by joining its Board. I warmly welcome the secondment by Turkey to the GCTF Administrative Unit in The Hague.

One more intention is to limit the number of meetings. Our centre of gravity should become action, and less time spent on reflection.

We need to focus our assessments and question ourselves what works and what does not work, combine our resources and accelerate our coordinated responses together with our international stabilization and development partners. For example, through our development programmes, we are already addressing part of the root causes. I see much to gain from making our development programmes sensitive to countering violent extremism (CVE) and vice versa. This requires reinforcement of our toolkit. Combined with the use of social media we could further leverage the impact of our actions.

We need to redouble our outreach efforts, beyond our club of 30. More concrete projects and intensification of region and country specific approaches are needed: countries that are in dire need of counter terrorism support [Tunesia, Kenia, Yemen] but also regional organisations willing to actively pursue CT programmes such as IGAD and the African Union. We must reap the synergies with other counter terrorism fora. Our strength lies in innovative partnerships with local municipalities, civil society and practioners, ranging from psychologists to media experts, from judges to border officers and from bankers to religious leaders. I commend many of you (Pakistan, Nigeria, South Africa, Indonesia) for your community based initiatives.

Lastly, a major factor of our success has been our ability to set the agenda on topical but sensitive issues. The renewed focus on the Life-cycle of Radicalization recognizes that we need tailor-made approaches, sometimes even at an individual level to reach the school drop-out, who is being lured behind his laptop by violent extremist ideologies. I was again faced with this reality when four weeks ago the news broke that a Dutch active military joined the ranks of Da’esh. Prevent global, think local. I conclude by once more thanking my US/Turkish colleagues for their excellent work in steering the GCTF. I look forward to continuing this work with my Turkish and Moroccan colleagues. The Kingdom of the Netherlands looks forward to cooperating with you, and stands ready to serve as your partner for peace, justice and development.

Thank you in advance for your continued advice and support.