Counter-Terrorism

The Counter-Terrorism Working Group (CTWG) is a Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) Sub-Committee for Economic and Technical Cooperation (ECOTECH) sub-forum created in 2013. The CTWG’s mission is to assist member economies to build robust capacity to protect supply chains, travel and financial systems, and infrastructure against terrorist attack, disruption, and misuse, as well as to respond to, and recover from, such disruptions without compromising the flow of legitimate trade and travel.

Recognizing that terrorism poses a direct threat to APEC's vision of secure, open and prosperous economies, APEC Leaders have pledged to help secure the region's people and its economic, trade, investment and financial systems from terrorist attack or abuse and trade-based money laundering. Economies expressed their commitment to undertake individual and joint actions to counter terrorism in two principle statements—the 2001 APEC Leaders Statement on Counter-Terrorism and the 2002 Statement on Fighting Terrorism and Promoting Growth.

Subsequently, an APEC Counter-Terrorism Task Force (CTTF) was established in May 2003 in order to monitor progress and build capacity in counter-terrorism, with a view to:

  • Coordinate the implementation of Leaders' Statements and commitments on fighting terrorism and enhancing human security
  • Assist members to identify and assess counter-terrorism needs
  • Coordinate capacity building and technical assistance programs
  • Cooperate with relevant international and regional organizations
  • Facilitate cooperation between APEC fora on counter-terrorism issues

In July 2013, recognizing that threat of terrorism has a long-lasting nature and the CTTF’s valuable and constructive role in helping to protect the economic systems in the region from disruption; APEC Senior Officials endorsed the proposal to upgrade the task force into a working group. The Counter-Terrorism Working Group first mandate for 2013-2017 was established in accordance with its strategic plan.

APEC Leaders also emphasize the important role played by the United Nations and its Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, and have stressed the need for implementation, where applicable, of UN counter-terrorism measures and the Financial Action Task Force's (FATF) Special Recommendations on Terrorist Financing.

In February 2018, the SOM Steering Committee on ECOTECH adopted the APEC Counter-Terrorism Working Group Strategic Plan 2018- 2022, which guides the work of the CTWG.

Last page update: June 2021

Current Activities

The CTWG implements capacity building projects to support the Counter-Terrorism and Secure Trade Strategy across Member Economies, particularly in four cross- cutting work streams: secure supply chains; secure travel; secure finance and secure infrastructure. Member economies discuss and share information on new terrorist challenges in the APEC Region, including evolving terrorist threats, cross-border travel of foreign terrorist fighters and growing risk of terrorist financing.

In accordance with the APEC Counter Terrorism Working Group Strategic Plan 2018-2022, the focus areas (FA) for 2018-2022 are as follows:

FA1: Continue to implement, review and assess the APEC Consolidated Counter-Terrorism and Secure Trade Strategy as recognized in successive Leaders Declarations, Ministerial Joint Statements, and Ministers Responsible for Trade Statements;

FA2: Increase cooperation with other APEC sub-fora on cross-cutting, counter-terrorism related issues;

FA3: Increase cooperation among APEC member economies to understand and take appropriate actions to address: (i) the impact of evolving terrorist threats including by ISIL, Al-Qaida and other terrorist groups, as well as foreign terrorist fighters; and (ii) the impact of radicalization to violence and violent extremism as and when conducive to terrorism on their economies, including increasing risk to soft targets, in order to promote the security and resilience of businesses and communities;

FA4: Increase member economy capacity to disrupt the flow of foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) within the region without interrupting the movement of bona-fide international travelers between economies, and promote exchange of information between special and law enforcement agencies of APEC Economies regarding actions/movements of terrorist organizations and individuals;

FA5: Increase cooperation and technical assistance among APEC member economies in their efforts to implement the Advance Passenger Information and Passenger Name Record (API/PNR) programs to secure and facilitate legitimate travel within the region;

FA6: Improve member economy capacity to prevent and counter terrorist financing, including by ISIL and foreign terrorist fighters, without impacting on the free flow of legitimate trade in accordance with international law and standards;

FA7: Improve member economy capacity to ensure the resilience, and security against misuse, attack, and disruption, of critical infrastructure, which supports and enables economic activity across the APEC region;

FA8: Strengthen counter-terrorism related cooperation with the private sector and with relevant multilateral organizations; and

FA9: Foster whole-of-government approaches within APEC economies, as well as enhance cooperation and coordination among economies and relevant APEC sub-fora.

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Achievements

Counter Terrorism

Three main goals for the CTWG going forward: to ensure robust capacity building work is carried out in each of the Counter-Terrorism and Secure Trade Strategy’s four cross-cutting activity areas; to continue to improve the CTAP process and summary report to maximize its relevance to the CTTF’s work; and to continue to support a coordination role on APEC secure trade issues across APEC sub-fora and maintain engagement with relevant international organizations.