Launch of the Global Counterterrorism Forum

Maria Otero
Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs 
New York City
September 22, 2011

(As prepared for delivery)

Secretary Clinton, I would like to welcome you to the official launch of the Global Counterterrorism Forum. The Global Counterterrorism Forum, also known as the GCTF, will fill a gap in the international counterterrorism architecture, serving as an action-oriented organization to mobilize practical civilian capacity building efforts to combat terrorism around the world.

As the Forum’s founding members come together today for this historic event, we wanted to honor victims of terrorism from around the world and underscore the central role that they and others in civil society and government can play in countering terrorism and violent extremism.

It is also our hope that the GCTF will be used to build more effective partnerships with and among victims and other civil society groups who bear the brunt of terrorist attacks and are often better positioned than governments to speak out against the use of violence. As Secretary Clinton has often pointed out, civil society, government and the private sector have to operate together, like 3 legs of a stool, to amplify our diplomatic messages. Nowhere is this more important than in countering terrorism.

We turned to the Global Survivors Network (GSN) to produce the film we are about to watch. The GSN is comprised of individuals from around the world who have come together to speak out against terrorism. Better than anyone else, they understand that terrorist violence only causes pain and suffering, leaving families broken, creating widows, and making children motherless or fatherless. The film portrays the stories of victims and survivors of terrorism in their own words; the tragedy of their stories delivers a powerful message against terrorism and reminds us why we are gathered here today.

I am pleased to welcome Carie Lemack, who produced the film, and is the co-founder of the Global Survivors Network. Carie also co-founded and led the non-profit Families of September 11 organization after her mother, Judy Larocque, was killed on one of the airplanes that crashed into the World Trade Center. She has produced a number of documentary films on victims of terrorism, including “Killing in the Name,” which was nominated for an Oscar last year. I would now like to turn to Carie to say a few words about the Global Survivors Network and the film.