8 - 9 November 2023
In recent decades, the increased accessibility of crossing country borders presents both opportunities and challenges. On one hand, it has benefited global travel and trade. On the other , it has prompted national governments to boost national security by improving collaboration. International security requires sustained vigilance. National governments’ collaboration on security efforts within the travel domain, especially to combat terrorist travel, relies on effective information sharing to identify known, suspected, or returning terrorists. By developing and maintaining national-level terrorist watchlisting and screening processes, law enforcement officials can access and use relevant information, allowing them to identify terrorist travel more effectively.
Building on the success of previous workshops and engagements, the GCTF Foreign Terrorist Fighter (FTF) Working Group Co-Chairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Jordan and the Department of State, arranged a two-day, interactive, workshop focused on raising awareness and helping put into action the nineteen recommendations shared in the GCTF Counterterrorism Watchlisting Toolkit. The two-day workshop ‘Operationalizing the GCTF Counterterrorism Watchlisting Toolkit in the Western Hemisphere,’ had participants from governments, entities, academic institutions, and organizations active in the region engaged in dialogue to further improve national-level watchlisting practices.
In-depth discussions on national watchlisting strategies and the challenges of border security, surveillance, and terrorist travel, provided invaluable insights helping to further enhance watchlisting practices and techniques. The participants also took part in interactive simulations reflecting real-life events, which allowed for impactful, practical sessions to be held throughout the two days.
The workshop and the activities improving watchlisting are based on the GCTF New York Memorandum on Good Practices for Interdicting Terrorist Travel (‘the New York Memorandum’) that establishes good practices for practitioners and policymakers for creating, organizing, and managing watchlists. The New York Memorandum was built on initiatives of the UN Security Council, including Security Council Resolution 2396 (2017) and the Addendum to the guiding principles on foreign terrorist fighters (2018), regarding the obligation for countries to develop watchlists and share information regarding terrorist travel and screening. As follow-up to the New York Memorandum, in 2021, the GCTF developed the GCTF Counterterrorism Watchlisting Toolkit (‘the Toolkit’) to support countries in the implementation of watchlisting practices by means of nineteen concrete recommendations. Both the New York Memorandum and the Toolkit emphasize that watchlisting and terrorist screening measures must be consistent with obligations under international law, particularly international human rights law, international refugee law, and international humanitarian law. The documents provide a valuable framework for practitioners and policymakers to set up and improve national watchlisting processes that are consistent with international law.