The Counterterrorism Watchlisting Toolkit

The Counterterrorism Watchlisting Toolkit, presented to the Nineteenth GCTF Coordinating Committee in October 2021, operationalizes the GCTF New York Memorandum on Good Practices for Interdicting Terrorist Travel, which was endorsed in September 2019. The development of this GCTF toolkit was co-led by the United States and the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) with the support of the Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) as the Chair of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact Working Group on Border Management and Law Enforcement (BMLE WG) and in consultation with the BMLE WG.


The GCTF New York Memorandum on Good Practices for Interdicting Terrorist Travel provides options for improving terrorist screening mechanisms and capabilities to interdict terrorist travel and implement clear legal and policy frameworks in light of UNSCR 2396. As a response to the complex and challenging endeavor of implementing and managing an effective national counterterrorism watchlisting system, the United States and the United Nations launched the GCTF Watchlisting Guidance Manual Initiative to make practical use of the principles of the GCTF New York Memorandum by expanding further the guidelines for the implementation and management of counterterrorism watchlists and databases. The Asser Institute served as the implementing partner.

The Counterterrorism Watchlisting Toolkit

The toolkit is a non-binding document primarily directed at policymakers who are confronting the technical, operational, and legal challenges of implementing and managing watchlists. The purpose of the toolkit is to provide states without a counterterrorism watchlisting system with clear recommendations towards implementation. Additionally, states with established national-level counterterrorism watchlisting systems may benefit from using the toolkit to evaluate and strengthen their systems with proper system management, maintenance, and consideration of applicable national laws and international obligations and commitments, including international human rights obligations and commitments. This toolkit is the first of its kind in providing states with recommendations and options for developing and strengthening national counterterrorism watchlisting systems of known and suspected terrorists, including foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs). The GCTF’s non-binding recommendations should be considered in light of each state’s circumstances, domestic laws and policies, and their international legal obligations and commitments, including those under international human rights law, international refugee law, and international humanitarian law, as applicable.

The Counterterrorism Watchlisting Toolkit is also available in Arabic, French and Spanish