International counter-terrorism is on the agenda of various international organisations and bodies. A major new player, the Global Counterterrorism Forum, joined the effort last year. Switzerland is a member of this forum. In joining the GCTF, Switzerland expressed its conviction that this body would complement and strengthen existing international efforts to combat terrorism. To this end, Switzerland organised a conference in Interlaken which was attended, at the invitation of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), by some 100 representatives of the GCTF's Member States, the UN, the EU and nine regional organisations.
In her opening address, Federal Councillor Sommaruga emphasised that in order to eliminate the breeding grounds of radicalism and terrorism, it is crucial to strengthen the rule of law and criminal prosecution, as well as to promote peace, human rights and democracy. Discussions focused on how to manage the relationship between the GCTF and other organisations active in counter-terrorism, particularly the UN.
The GCTF was founded in September 2011 with the aim of fostering national counter-terrorism capacities. The GCTF was launched by the United States and is composed of around 30 States from all parts of the world and the European Union. Thematic priorities include improving the rule of law in combating terrorism and preventing violent extremism. The current focus is on the Sahel region, the Horn of Africa and Southeast Asia. The GCTF aims to identify national and international requirements in the fight against terrorism, to coordinate whenever necessary the relevant activities, and to develop targeted solutions.
The fight against terrorism and its causes is nowadays considered to be the shared responsibility of all States. Switzerland is also actively participating in international cooperation. Among its priorities is the implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, which the UN General Assembly adopted by consensus in 2006. Switzerland maintains that all four pillars of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy deserve equal attention: addressing conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism; preventing and combating terrorism; building States' capacity to prevent and combat terrorism; and ensuring respect for human rights and the rule of law as the fundamental basis of the fight against terrorism.
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