Delegates of the Global Counterterrorism Forum and the anti-ISIS coalition gathered in the Hague today for a major international meeting on counterterrorism.

The meeting was the first time that all countries that play a leading global role in counterterrorism efforts sat down together for talks. Minister of Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders chaired the meeting.

Global Counterterrorism Forum

Mr. Koenders took the initiative to set up the meeting because he believes it is important for the international coalitions to align their activities from time to time. “Recent terrorist attacks in France, Lebanon, Tunisia, Nigeria and Turkey demonstrate that terrorism can hold people in its grip anywhere in the world. Today’s terrorism has ramifications for all of our countries; it is agile, resourceful and international. It is like a virus that continually adapts,” said Mr. Koenders.

To defeat this virus, it is essential that countries work together more closely, Mr. Koenders believes. This entails not only punitive measures but also prevention and deradicalization. A balance must be struck between these approaches. “We need to share information with each other in better, faster and smarter ways. If information is put together in a timely and accurate manner, we can be more successful in preventing terrorism. This is still a major challenge for the international community,” he said.

Share, Stop, and Secure

In addition to sharing information (Share), the meeting has two key themes: Stop and Secure.

The Stop theme includes combating foreign terrorist fighters – people who join terrorist groups abroad – while Secure involves better protecting innocent citizens from terrorist violence and increasing resilience. “We need to make progress in all three of these areas. This issue is so complex that we cannot afford to miss out on opportunities,” continued Mr. Koenders.

According to the minister, it makes sense for the Netherlands to take the lead in international consultations. “Together with Turkey, the Netherlands is the co-chair of the GCTF and co-chair of the Foreign Terrorist Fighters working groups in both the GCTF and the anti-ISIS coalition. In addition, we are currently the EU Presidency holder. This puts us in an excellent position to set these consultations in motion.”

Representatives of governments around the world will attend the meeting, including ministers from countries hard hit by terrorism, such as Nigeria, Belgium and Tunisia. Delegates from Europol, Interpol, the United Nations and the European Union will also take part in the consultations.