In 2004 we founded the Center on Global Counterterrorism Cooperation (CGCC) with the intention of working with governments, international and regional organizations, and nongovernmental actors, such as civil society groups and survivors of terrorist violence, to advance comprehensive, multilateral approaches to prevent and counter terrorism while promoting and protecting human rights and the rule of law.
With the assistance of our distinguished advisory council, CGCC has developed a solid reputation for taking proactive steps to help the international community create and implement effective counterterrorism policies. We worked with the United Nations and many member states to contribute to the development of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in 2006, which has become a blueprint for regions and states when developing their own integrated, whole-of-government actions to prevent and respond to terrorism. In 2008 we implemented an international convening process on a regional basis with dozens of governments to enhance the capacity of states to address terrorism without an undue reliance on military force. That process eventually led to the development of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), a new intergovernmental body devoted to supporting civilian capacity-building initiatives under the normative framework of the Strategy.
Through our work with policymakers and experts all over the world, we have developed a deeper understanding of contemporary terrorism as a dynamic and diffuse threat. Some terrorists exploit structural conditions, including inadequate development, poor governance, and other long-standing socioeconomic grievances, to garner support and attract recruits. Other terrorists emerge spontaneously, whether alone or in small groups, motivated by extremist ideas. The lines among criminality, conflict, and terrorism are increasingly blurred, making it difficult to develop responses to terrorism in isolation from other security and development threats.
As a result, our understanding of appropriate responses has progressed. Policymakers increasingly agree that “hard power” approaches to counterterrorism have a limited and possibly adverse effect, leading to unintended consequences. Transgressions of the rule of law in the name of counterterrorism efforts by governments may encourage others to dismiss legitimate political processes and seek alternative means of catalyzing social and political change. Greater attention is being focused today on the prevention of violent extremism, which requires integrated approaches that link security with development, good governance, and greater international cooperation.
When we founded CGCC, having the term “counterterrorism” in our name was accurate and appropriate. It enabled us to participate in policy debates and play an integral role in reshaping tactical responses to terrorism into a more considered, strategic approach drawing from well-established social and economic development practice and policy. Given the developments in our area, however, the term “counterterrorism” is no longer reflective of the diverse, cross-cutting, and multidimensional nature of our work. As our research, analysis, and programs tend toward approaches to security that are more integrative horizontally and vertically, the “counterterrorism” label is increasingly outdated. If we conceived our initial mission in negative terms—to prevent and suppress terrorism—we believe it timely to rephrase our goal for the future in positive terms—to achieve collective security.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in the executive summary for his report “In Larger Freedom: Towards Security, Development and Human Rights for All,” presented in advance of the Millennium Summit, asserted that
[i]n a world of inter-connected threats and opportunities,
it is in each country’s self-interest that all of these
challenges are addressed effectively. Hence, the cause
of larger freedom can only be advanced bybroad, deep and
sustained global cooperation among States. The world needs
strong and capable States, effective partnerships with civil
societyand the private sector, and agile and effective regional
and global intergovernmental institutions to mobilize and
coordinate collective action.
We agree. The evolution of policy briefly described here has led us to move with the times and make a change. The phrase “cooperative security” was widely used during the Cold War in the development of a pan-European security architecture that introduced innovative confidence-building measures in the aftermath of two devastating world wars. The concept of cooperative security endures in today’s world, which has become increasingly interconnected in all aspects—economic, social, and political. In this new global context, transnational terrorist and other violent or criminal groups have an expanded reach, which can only be halted with coordinated and inclusive global efforts across multiple levels of engagement. To better reflect who we are, an organization that is well placed to go beyond the limited scope of counterterrorism toward a more inclusive, comprehensive goal of promoting cooperative security—we are now the Global Center on Cooperative Security.
To learn more about our organization’s work, please visit our website at www.globalcenter.org/about/.