Counter-Terrorism Working Group

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. Their commitments to undertake individual and joint actions to counter terrorism are expressed in two principle statements - the 2001 APEC Leaders Statement on Counter-Terrorism and the 2002 Statement on Fighting Terrorism and Promoting Growth - and in every subsequent annual Leaders' Declaration.

Bearing in mind Leaders' instructions to monitor progress and build capacity in counter-terrorism, the APEC Counter-Terrorism Task Force was established in May 2003 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 organisations
  • Facilitate cooperation between APEC fora on counter-terrorism issues.

In July 2013, recognising 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 is for 2013-2017 in accordance with its strategic plan.

APEC Leaders also emphasize the important role played by the UN 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.

Current Chair (2017-2018) is Mr. James Nachipo (Australia).

Last page update: 20 February 2017

Current Activities

CTWG is working on a range of activities, including the development and implementation of APEC’s first Counter-Terrorism and Secure Trade Strategy CT/ST, which was endorsed by APEC Ministers in 2011. This Strategy identified three fundamental pillars – security, efficiency, and resilience – that will underpin APEC’s counter-terrorism and secure trade efforts over at least the next five years.

CTWG is also actively involved in the APEC Travel Facilitation Initiative (TFI) endorsed by the APEC Leaders in 2011 to expedite the movement of travellers across the Asia-Pacific region, The TFI encompasses six components: the Airport Partnership Program (APP), the APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC), the Trusted Traveller Program (TTP), Air Passenger Security Screening, Advance Passenger Information (API), and Checked Baggage Facilitation.  Other four APEC sub-fora are involved in the work of this cross-cutting initiative: the Business Mobility Group (BMG), the Sub-Committee on Customs Procedures (SCCP), the Transportation Working Group (TPTWG) and the Tourism Working Group (TWG).

On 22-23 February 2016 in the margins of SOM1-2016, in Lima, Peru, the CTWG held its 7th meeting where the group endorsed the CTWG 2016 Work Plan, which reiterated CTWG’s continuous commitment to work in line with the CTWG mission as well as APEC’s 2016 theme of “Quality Growth and Human Development” through the following:

  • Continue implementation of the CTWG Strategic Plan 2013-2017;
  • Continue implementation of the APEC Counter-Terrorism and Secure Trade Strategy;
  • Increase cooperation among APEC economies to address the evolution of terrorist threats and the growth of violent extremism, and to promote the security and resilience of businesses and communities;
  • Conduct activities related to human and institutional capacity building, empirical research, and collaboration training in countering violent extremism, secure trade and travel, in close cooperation and coordination with relevant APEC sub-fora;
  • Advance programs that will strengthen economies cooperation and collaboration in countering violent extremism, preventing foreign terrorist fighter travel, countering the financing of terrorism, and promoting exchange of information regarding actions/movements of suspected terrorist organizations and individuals;
  • Increase cooperation among economies through exchange of best practices in countering terrorism in particular those that support APEC Counter-Terrorism and Secure Trade Strategy;
  • Increase cooperation and technical assistance among economies in their effort to implement the Advance Passenger Information and Passenger Name Record (API/PNR) programs.

On-going/Proposed Projects and Initiatives

Secure Travel

The United States conducted the CTWG Secure Travel Workshop on “Countering Foreign Terrorist Fighters Travel” that took place on 30-31 August 2015 in Cebu.  The workshop highlighted the threat that FTFs and their travel poses to the Asia Pacific Region, and explained why Advance Passenger Information (API) Systems are effective in helping to mitigate that threat. The workshop also emphasized the need for inter-agency cooperation in implementing API systems; Imperative of international cooperation; and Information sharing for API to be effective, and addressed other airport screening that improves security as well as effective security procedures in land and maritime borders.

Trusted Traveler and Advance Passenger Information Systems

CTWG is also working on two joint projects with the Business Mobility Group (BMG) and the Sub-Committee on Customs Procedures (SCCP) to develop trusted traveller characteristics and to develop best practices on implementing Advance Passenger Information Systems. By receiving passenger information in advance of travel, APEC economies could expedite the processing of legitimate travellers through ports of entry and focus on those requiring additional scrutiny. The Trusted Traveller project is aimed at developing consensus on traveller characteristics that should form the basis of trusted traveller programs. The second project is focused on developing a lessons learned document on the challenges economies face in implementing Advanced Passenger Information systems.

Secure Finance

The United States conducted the CTWG Secure Finance Workshop on Countering the Financing of Terrorism with New Payment Systems (NPS) that was held on 30-31 January 2015 in Clark, which provided to working-level financial crimes policy and operational representatives from APEC economies the opportunity to engage and help develop or reinforce the capacities to promote the legal and transparent use of NPS and to effectively counter the illicit uses of NPS. The workshop included a description of NPS and methods, how they work, the outsourcing and segmentation of NPS services, global trends in NPS, and briefings on the experiences of APEC economies with NPS.  Also, the workshop participants discussed the threat finance and crime nexus, FATF guidelines, developing prosecutorial and law enforcement foundational infrastructures, and how AML/CFT safeguards, financial inclusion, and economic growth are mutually reinforcing goals and objectives. 

Secure Supply Chains

The US-funded joint Trade Recovery Project, with the Transportation Working Group and the Sub-Committee on Customs Procedures, has its background in the 2006 Leader’s Declaration that identified the importance of trade recovery from terrorism or major natural disasters. The goal of trade recovery is to resume supply chain and trade operations as quickly and efficiently as possible after a major incident. The project is being developed in coordination with the World Customs Organization and is focused on establishing an information sharing platform system.

Source: Report on the APEC Trade Recovery Programme Pilot Exercise (2010)

Secure Infrastructure

Major Events Security Framework Workshop APEC MESF.

CTWG, led by Canada, is developing a Major Events Security Framework that provides APEC economies with common practices and standards to successfully plan, execute and close-out major event security such as high profile events like the Olympics or the World Cup. Canadian experts developed the initial content for the framework.  They then worked with experts from APEC economies, over the course of two workshops, one in Malaysia (June 2013) and one in Chile (October 2013), to review, pilot and finalize the content.  Once complete, all APEC economies will have access to the framework via secure link to the web portal. There is a large gap between economies with respect to common practices and standards for major event security: some are very advanced, with domestic protocols in place to address various facets of project planning to close-out, while others had never had the opportunity to develop this expertise domestically. 

Prior to 7th CTWG in Lima, Peru, as part of the APEC MESF capacity building, Major Event and Security Framework Workshop was held on 20-21 February 2016. During the workshop economies have the opportunity to provide information on major event planning, to share lessons learned among economies with regard to security planning for major events and to develop experience in conducting threat and risk assessments and development of Concept of Operations for major event security.

Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience

This new project, self-funded by the United States, will work on ensuring the security of critical infrastructure required for an economy to function such as power, water, transportation and communications. The project will reduce risks to critical infrastructure caused by attacks, accidents and natural disasters as well as ensure operations can be resumed quickly.

A two day Workshop on Enhancing Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience in the Asia Pacific Region was held on 16-17 October 2014 in Chinese Taipei.

Secure Finance Workshop on Countering the Financing of Terrorism with New Payment Systems

This new project, also self-funded by the United States, will address the rising concern of new payments systems to finance terrorism, such as mobile phones, internet and electronic value cards. Many of these new payment systems and technologies have yet to be regulated by governments. As a result, these financial transactions fall outside the existing financial regulatory system and can be easily used for terrorist financing.

A workshop on Secure Finance on Countering the Financing of Terrorism with New Payment System was held on 29-30 January 2015, in Subic Bay, Philippines, in the margins of SOM 1-2015.

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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.