Steven Hill’s Remarks during the International Conference on Investigation and Prosecution of Terrorist Offences in Armed Conflict

How Small States can prevent & respond to the threat of Human Trafficking.

International Conference on the Investigation and Prosecution of Terrorist Offences 

Committed in the Context of Armed Conflict

Council of Europe

Strasbourg | 15 May 2024

Remarks by

Steven Hill

Executive Secretary

International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law

  • Thank the Conference’s organizers — the Council of Europe Committee on Counter-terrorism (CDCT) — and the panel’s moderator, Ambassador Päivi Kairamo from Finland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • In my presentation —
    • (1) I will start by providing a broad overview of the IIJ’s work, including some of our initiatives relevant to the theme of this Conference: accountability for terrorism and other serious crimes linked to armed conflict.
    • (2) Then I’ll focus in more detail on an IIJ line of effort of particular relevance to this panel: our Battlefield Evidence initiative.
    • (3) Next I’ll note a few important issues and practical lessons related to Battlefield Evidence, based on what have we seen in practice working with countries across Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and elsewhere.
    • (4) Finally, I’ll briefly preview the upcoming Comparative Practices on the Use of Information Collected in Conflict Zones as Evidence in Criminal Proceedings, which the IIJ and CDCT Secretariat have developed and will publish jointly this fall.

(1) Introduce the IIJ and the relevance of our work to this International Conference.

  • For those not already familiar with our work, the IIJ is a nonpolitical multinational institution based in Malta and primarily focused on counter-terrorism, providing rule of law–based training to criminal justice sector stakeholders, including lawmakers, law enforcement officials, prosecutors, judges, and others.
  • We have an international board (as well as staff), and we appreciate the support of many of the governments represented here: 8 of our board members are member states or observers of the CDCT (France, Germany, Italy, Malta, Türkiye, the UK, the EU, and the US) and several other CDCT members are donors (Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Spain).
  • We strengthen criminal justice systems and build transnational networks to promote justice, security, and human rights, through a range of activities —
    • Developing capacity-building programs on issues related to the fight against terrorism;
    • Producing foundational documents, based on practitioners’ and subject matter specialists’ expertise, on issues relevant to counter-terrorism including mutual legal assistance and juvenile justice; and
    • Providing a neutral convening platform for practitioners to share information about sensitive criminal justice issues they confront in their work.
  • This conference’s theme, at the broadest level, is bringing the perpetrators of terrorism and other serious crimes to justice, and the IIJ advances that mission through several ongoing lines of effort —
    • For example, through our initiative on Addressing the Impunity of Sexual Violence in the Context of Terrorism, we convene frontline criminal justice practitioners to help them better understand unique challenges associated with investigating and prosecuting crimes of sexual violence in the context of terrorism — which in many cases, given a nexus to an armed conflict, may also amount to international crimes. We have focused on accountability for the crimes of ISIS, Al Shabaab, and Boko Haram in this initiative, and work closely with UNODC, the Dennis Mukwege Foundation, the Special Criminal Court in the Central African Republic, and a range of other key actors. This is a topic I know that this conference will be focusing on in more detail tomorrow.
    • Through the IIJ Global Central Authorities Initiative, we support the crucial role of Central Authorities, the national entities responsible for mutual legal assistance and extradition. In 2022 we convened the Great Lakes Regional Ministerial Conference on Enhancing Judicial Cooperation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, at which 12 ministerial delegations adopted the Kinshasa Declaration, a set of model guidelines to improve cross-border exchange of information in criminal cases. This kind of proactive information sharing is essential to terrorism cases linked to armed conflicts, which often involve transnational investigations.

(2) Today, I’ll focus on one of our most important longstanding lines of effort: our initiative on Battlefield Evidence.

  • Without reiterating the description of Battlefield Evidence itself which the moderator and the other speakers have already offered, I’d echo their words about the value of this material for criminal justice purposes, including for terrorism-related investigations and prosecutions, particularly (for evident reasons) those linked to armed conflicts.
  • The IIJ began work on this issue in early 2019 with a Global Workshop, at which the United States interagency Non-Binding Guiding Principles on Use of Battlefield Evidence in Civilian Criminal Proceedings were first presented to the international community.
  • Later that year, we convened more than 100 representatives of over 30 countries and another dozen international institutions at a Senior Leaders Seminar, where CTED announced the publication of the UN’s own Military Evidence Guidelines.
  • Since then, we have worked to enhance frontline counterterrorism practitioners’ appreciation for the value of Battlefield Evidence and to promote implementation of international guidance on its collection, exploitation, sharing, and use to support civilian criminal justice outcomes.
  • Initially, the IIJ’s principal focus was promoting the use of Battlefield Evidence to investigate and prosecute crimes ISIS carried out in Iraq and Syria, particularly to bring returning or relocated foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) to justice.
  • We have since expanded the scope of our work on Battlefield Evidence, while tailoring it to different contexts. We are now planning both regional Dialogues, scoping how countries within a certain geography handle the range of issues related to Battlefield Evidence, and thematically focused Dialogues, delving into how particular issues are handled across a range of geographies. For example, we’ve convened a meeting to evaluate the most effective transnational mechanisms for sharing information collected in other contexts for European states’ border security operations as well as civilian prosecutions.
  • Finally, over the past year we have partnered with the Council of Europe Committee on Counter-Terrorism to produce a publication for the Council of Europe on the use of information collected in conflict zones as evidence in criminal proceedings (which I will say a bit more about later).

(3) Based on all this work on Battlefield Evidence, I want to note a few important practical lessons.

  • First, there are a number of “soft law” guidance documents which can be instructive.
    • The United States government developed a set of fourteen Non-Binding Guiding Principles on how to deal with different challenges posed by battlefield evidence, which (as Larry just described) cover legal frameworks for collection and receipt, storage and cataloguing, exploitation and analysis, sharing information with domestic and foreign partners, and training criminal justice stakeholders to raise their awareness of the issues involved).
    • The United Nations has issued its own set of Military Evidence Guidelines, which are broader than the U.S. Non-Binding Guiding Principles in that they address not just “real” or physical evidence like documents and weapons but also statements and testimony.
    • Eurojust has also published a Memorandum on Battlefield Evidence, focused on use in court, which is an excellent document, and particularly useful since it’s based on surveying states with both civil and common law systems.
    • The Global Counterterrorism Forum has also contributed (which is of particular interest to the IIJ, as we are an institution originally inspired by the GCTF) by publishing the Abuja Recommendations on the Collection, Use and Sharing of Evidence for Purposes of Criminal Prosecution of Terrorist Suspects: this documents deals with battlefield evidence, in addition to digital evidence more generally and testimonial evidence.
    • Finally, as you’ve heard, the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers in 2022 adopted a Recommendation to member States on this issue.
  • Second, there are a number of major capacity gaps in how states collect, preserve, analyze, and exploit material from the battlefield.
    • There is still a lack of processes to maintain chains of custody and to document the integrity of material and information.
    • There is a lack of resources for cataloguing, or sometimes translating, the vast volume of information and material collected, or for analyzing it for potential evidentiary value.
    • And there is often a lack of expertise for fully exploiting electronic evidence that may have been picked up.
  • Third, there are persistent issues related to use in court.
    • There is a systemic bias toward overclassification, and de-classification is challenging. This makes it harder both to share and use information. So it’s particularly noteworthy that in 2020, the U.S. Secretary of Defense directed that thenceforward all newly acquired and unexploited material captured, collected, or handled by U.S. Armed Forces during military operations be presumed to be unclassified, unless sensitive sources, methods, or activities were used to acquire such materials.
    • Next, there is the larger challenge of using classified information in judicial proceedings. This is a complex issue, which involves vindicating the right to a fair trial while at the same time appropriately protecting the security interests involved, including the secrecy of sensitive sources and methods. Ultimately this depends on both the relevant jurisdiction’s procedural arrangements and the details of the case at hand.
    • A closely related challenge is how to introduce sensitive witness testimony. The testimony not just of the information’s collectors but also of more senior officials, technical experts, or others (depending on the case) is particularly valuable as support and corroboration for battlefield evidence. Again, there is a challenge of how to facilitate such testimony with appropriate protections while respecting fair trial rights. A range of measures including the use of physical screens, remote videoconferencing, and the taking of written depositions out of court may be available.
  • As a final overarching point, the principle that must not be forgotten in all of this is that states should ensure that both the sharing and use of Battlefield Evidence pay full respect to international human rights law, including to defendant’s fair trial rights, and to national safeguards.

(4) Comparative Practices

  • Finally, as you’ve heard, the IIJ has partnered with the CDCT Secretariat to develop a set of Comparative Practices on the use of information collected in conflict zones as evidence in criminal proceedings.
  • This document was adopted by the CDCT in its plenary meeting earlier this week. We expect it will be published this fall in a number of languages, and we hope that many of you will join us for the launch event (exact date and location to be announced in due course).
  • For today, I’d like to make a few brief remarks on what the document’s purpose is and what it covers.
  • In terms of scope, it focuses on criminal offences linked to conflict zones, but it addresses the full range of potential sources of information and materials collected there (not just military-collected material). Moreover, it considers the use of information not just in terrorism-related cases but also for the prosecution of serious violations of IHL.
  • Second, the source material of this document is unique. It of course builds on the Council of Europe Recommendation CM/Rec(2022)8 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on the use of information collected in conflict zones as evidence in criminal proceedings related to terrorist offences. And it is rooted in international norms and best practices. But it primarily draws upon both information that states provided in response to a detailed questionnaire the CDCT Secretariat distributed, as well as the first-hand personal and institutional expertise of members of the relevant CDCT Working Group (the CDCT-CZ).
  • Finally, the purpose of this document is to present concrete cases and examples of how information and materials collected in conflict zones has been accessed, shared, and used as evidence. They are not prescriptive, but the examples and guidance they offer is very practical, so we and the CDCT Secretariat hope they will be useful to policymakers and practitioners, and will play a role in advancing justice and accountability for terrorism-related and other offenses linked to conflict zones.

Steven Hill’s Remarks in the High-Level African Counter-Terrorism Meeting in Abuja, Nigeria

Enhancing Regional Capacities to Counter and Prevent Terrorism

Abuja, 23 April (10:00-13:00)

Dear National Security Adviser Mallam Nuhu Ribadu,
Dear Under-Secretary-General Voronkov,
Excellencies and colleagues,

It is with great privilege that I address this conference and thank Nigeria and UNOCT for the invitation to the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law that I am representing.
As one of the three GCTF-Inspired Institutions, the IIJ is tasked with providing rule of law-based training to a diverse array of justice sector stakeholders, including lawmakers, law enforcement officials, prosecutors, judges, corrections officers, and others.

Our mission extends to strengthening criminal justice systems and fostering regional networks among judicial, law enforcement, and other criminal justice practitioners. Our efforts align closely with the best practices outlined by the GCTF and the relevant Security Council resolutions. We operate across Africa, the MENA region, and Southeast Asia, frequently collaborating with UN partners and with so many of the partners from Africa represented here today.

As a GCTF-Inspired Institution committed to upholding the rule of law in countering terrorism and transnational crime, the IIJ trained more than 900 practitioners and delivered over 3,000 individual training days in 2023 alone. Through 28 tailored training and capacity-building activities, we focused on addressing the unique challenges faced by our core regions in Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.
The practitioners from the African continent represented 30% of our participants in the 2023 activities, with a gender representation of over 75% men and 25% of women. Above 80% of them reported that the activities enhanced their knowledge of a particular CT technique, facilitated their work and helped them building relevant professional contacts. While 38% of them reported having changed their work practices as a result of their participation in the IIJ activities.

When working in the region the IIJ is also working closely with regional bodies. Currently we are strengthening our cooperation with GIABA, a part of ECOWAS, on workshops and training sessions focusing on Counterterrorism Financing and addressing Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBPs) in the same context. The IIJ has also worked with IGAD, on a Workshop for Kenyan and Somali Stakeholders on Building Strong Procedural Mechanisms for Mutual Legal Assistance as well as Great Lakes Judicial Cooperation Network on judicial cooperation.

In addition to our programmatic endeavours, we recognize the invaluable contribution of our alumni network, comprising over 9,000 criminal justice practitioners. As we celebrate our 10th anniversary in 2024, we plan to further enhance alumni engagement and strengthen connections within our global network.

The IIJ’s work encompasses both shorter thematic programmes and longer courses, addressing a wide range of topics, including foreign terrorist fighters, terrorism financing, and politically motivated violent extremism.

We are also actively supporting the work of Working Group as an implementing partner. The Working Group’s mandate focuses on promoting the recommendations of GCTF framework documents advocating for the respect for the rule of law in criminal justice matters, in particular in the field of terrorism investigations and prosecutions.

Next month from 22-23 May here in Abuja, the IIJ is organizing with the co-chairs of the working group, Nigeria and Italy, an Expert Meeting on Good Practices for the Protection of Witnesses and Criminal Justice Officials and the CJ-ROL Working Group Plenary Meeting. The expert meeting will tackle the challenges posed by witness and criminal justice officials protection in the context of terrorism prosecutions and adjudications. As a result of the discussions at the expert meeting, we will develop a toolkit to operationalize GCTF’s good practices on witness and criminal justice officials’ safety and security.

As an implementing partner, we also focus on advancing the key recommendations for the GCTF’s framework documents related to criminal justice and rule of law. We can cite several examples including the Global the Survey on Fair Trial Rights in Terrorism Cases led by the IIJ under the auspices of the EU-funded CT PHARE project that is designed to raise the awareness of Human Rights in the context of counter-terrorism responses.

Remarks on the Global Compact Working Group Meeting

Steven Hill
Executive Secretary
International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law

Dear Chair, Co-Chairs and Members of Criminal Justice, Legal Responses and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Working Group,

Dear colleagues,

It is with great privilege that I address this esteemed working group on behalf of the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law. It is heartening to see so many familiar faces and friends in attendance. Over the past decade, the United Nations and the various entities represented here today have been invaluable partners to the IIJ.

As one of the three GCTF-Inspired Institutions, the IIJ is tasked with providing rule of law-based training to a diverse array of justice sector stakeholders, including lawmakers, law enforcement officials, prosecutors, judges, corrections officers, and others. Our mission extends to strengthening criminal justice systems and fostering regional networks among judicial, law enforcement, and other criminal justice practitioners. Our efforts align closely with the best practices outlined by the GCTF and the relevant Security Council resolutions, such as resolutions 1373 (2001) and 2617 (2021). We operate across Africa, the MENA region, and Southeast Asia, frequently collaborating with UN partners like UN CTED, UNODC, UNOCT, and OHCHR.

Our presence today reflects a collaborative effort aimed at complementing the work of our esteemed partners, including the GCTF-inspired institutions and national judicial schools. We value the exchange with the Global Compact entities and aspire for ongoing engagement beyond this occasion. Our partnerships are characterized by mutual cooperation, coordination, and a shared commitment to maximizing the impact of our initiatives while optimizing the use of resources. At times our partnerships are formalised in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding and at times we prefer a hands one approach working together on a case-by-case basis always having the objective in mind which is serving our practitioners in the best way we can.

As an institution committed to upholding the rule of law in countering terrorism and transnational crime, the IIJ delivered over 3,000 individual training days to 900 practitioners in 2023 alone. Through 28 tailored training and capacity-building activities, we focused on addressing the unique challenges faced by our core regions in Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.

In addition to our programmatic endeavours, we recognize the invaluable contribution of our alumni network, comprising over 9,000 criminal justice practitioners. As we celebrate our 10th anniversary, we plan to further enhance alumni engagement and strengthen connections within our global network.

With our host country, Malta on the Security Council, we work closely with them advancing their key principles security, sustainability, and solidarity. Our joint efforts include initiatives like the recent Arria Meeting, which cantered on enhancing Member States’ capacities for a gender-responsive approach to counter-terrorism, and we continue that collaboration in Malta’s role as OSCE Chair.

The IIJ’s work encompasses both shorter thematic programmes and longer courses, addressing a wide range of topics, including foreign terrorist fighters, terrorism financing, and politically motivated violent extremism. Let me now, highlight some key achievements that underscore our collaborative efforts with many of you.

Programmatic Unit (Financing of Terrorism)

Countering the financing of terrorism, or CFT, is one of the IIJ’s core workstreams. Effective CFT measures help prevent terrorist attacks by disrupting material support that terrorist organisations and lone actors use for weapons, training, travel and actual execution of attacks. They also help provide valuable information for ongoing investigations by identifying financial flows, withdrawals, asset transactions and footprints of purchases. IIJ offers capacity building for state CFT actors on effective tackling terrorist financing relying upon a systematic approach grounded in principles of rule of law and human rights.

In our work we rely on FATF Recommendations as key guiding document providing a framework on which countries can build strategies for comprehensive CFT action, and we use FATF thematic and regional reports for design and implementation of our capacity-building programmes. We also align our programming to the results of the Mutual Evaluations conducted by FATF and FATF-style regional bodies, tailoring the contents of our workshops to address deficiencies identified by evaluation reports and subsequent national risk assessments.

We also recognise the leading role of the UN system in setting the general framework for states on their obligations to counter terrorist financing, and we follow guiding documents developed by the GCTF, such as the Good Practices Memorandum for the Implementation of Countering the Financing of Terrorism Measures while Safeguarding Civic Space.

United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) is a core partner for IIJ’s CFT activities. Within the framework of the IIJ-UNOCT Memorandum of Understanding and corresponding Plan of Action, the two organisations have agreed to programmatic collaboration in a number of areas including CFT, in the forms of resource mobilisation, collaborative programme development and implementation, research and dissemination of knowledge.

UNODC provides expert support to IIJ activities and assists with outreach to state authorities and securing nominations capitalising on its wide field presence. CTED is a valuable partner for the IIJ due to its expertise in policy analysis and country assessments. Representatives of UN CTED monitoring teams and committees share their insights with participants at IIJ programmes, and the findings in CTED reports are used as basis for developing IIJ capacity-building activities. IIJ also participates in the CTED activities, such as the development of the set of non-binding guiding principles to address Threats and Opportunities Related to New Payment Technologies and Fundraising Methods in the implementation of the Delhi Declaration on countering the use of new and emerging technologies for terrorist purposes, or the launch of the Analytical Brief on Establishing Effective Public-Private Partnerships on CFT.

IIJ has also established partnerships with key CFT players such as the Egmont group and FATF-style regional bodies. These relationships are crucial to IIJ’s programming, as they bring broad expertise, region-specific knowledge, latest updates on trends and best practices, and also add high-level endorsement to our programmes, which is especially important when we start working with new countries and need political buy-in.

We also coordinate with international and non-profit organisations working in our regions of focus, such as AGA Africa and the Global Center on Cooperative Security, to avoid duplicating efforts, complement and build upon each other’s work, and mutually reinforce our expertise.

We started our CFT work in West Africa in 2021 with a series of regional workshops on mitigating risks associated with abuse of Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions – a high-risk sector that manages large amounts of cash but is not regulated like the banking sector. Our most recent workshop took place in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, in October 2023. What started as an attempt to improve regional cooperation and assist participating countries in prosecuting and investigating terrorist financing cases resulted in a multi-year comprehensive project tackling the issue on all levels: policy and regulation, institutional mechanisms, risk-based supervision, inter-agency cooperation, public-private engagement, tracking financial flows, investigation, prosecution, sanctions, internal procedures for reporting entities, and more.

Since the first programme, we have worked with a of highly motivated professionals on creating robust CFT frameworks in their countries, and we are happy to see that this professional community remains dedicated to their work and reports positive improvements in their countries every year. This level of buy-in from national authorities is a crucial result for us, and it is our plan to continue this important work. In 2024 we plan to implement a Training of Trainers for the same group of professionals, aiming to support them in becoming true knowledge multipliers and in developing and implementing their own training programmes.

Apart from regional-level work, we also deliver country-specific programmes upon request by state authorities. We delivered such a programme in Nigeria in November 2023 after the country was placed on the FATF greylist. This comprehensive three-day training addressed key deficiencies in Nigeria’s CFT system, as identified in FATF evaluations, and supported priority areas outlined in the Nigerian CFT Strategy and Action Plan. These included gaps in interagency cooperation procedures, mitigating the risks of the non-profit sector and DNFBPs, regulation of virtual assets service providers, and border security implications on CFT, as well as existing procedural and regulatory challenges for effective investigation and prosecution of terrorist financing cases.

We continue to work closely with Nigerian authorities to sustain the results of the training, and also seek to continue this form of engagement with other countries as well.

In 2024 we are starting a multi-year comprehensive CFT project in Southeast Asia, which will include a wide range of topics, such as the use of social media for terrorist financing purposes, abuse of the non-profit sector for terrorist financing, mitigating terrorist financing risks associated with emerging payment methods and fintech, investigating financial networks of foreign terrorist fighters and returnees, and improving public-private cooperation on terrorist financing.

What distinguishes the IIJ CFT programmes is the careful selection of the profiles of the members of the country delegations and speakers – we place a lot of value on having the most relevant expertise at our programmes, and regularly receive positive feedback for these efforts. Our participants value us for creating an atmosphere of trust and free exchange at our programmes, which is essential for effective networking and fostering official and unofficial communication channels between different state entities and across participating countries. Our approach is also characterised by capitalising as much as possible on local and regional expertise as opposed to assigning key speaker roles to practitioners from the West, or the Global North, and we also make efforts to provide equal participation opportunities for men and women.

We promote the multi-stakeholder approach as it is key for CFT efforts – they require joint efforts from various state authorities and private sector. CFT regulations concerning several state actors or private sector have to be developed and amended in consultation with affected entities in order to make sure that they are implementable and effective, which is why it is important for states to foster mechanisms for interagency cooperation and public-private dialogue.

Rapid development of new technologies presents both a big threat and a big opportunity in the area of CFT. As technologies are actively used by perpetrators, the states’ efforts have to be directed at effective use of these technologies as opposed to imposing restrictions on them. The key to effective embedding of new technologies into government policies is public-private cooperation with the technology service providers, and we reflect that in our programmes.

We also recognise that regional cooperation and information sharing mechanisms play a crucial role in streamlining states’ CFT efforts and in processing terrorist financing cases with cross-border elements, so our programmes aim to foster the sustainability of these mechanisms and to minimize the impact of political factors that may affect their effectiveness.

Implementing Partner of the GCTF CJROL WG

I am also elated by the role the IIJ plays as a GCTF-inspired institution when it comes to the GCTF’s Working Group on Criminal Justice and the Rule of Law (CJROL WG). The IIJ has actively supported the work of Working Group as an implementing partner. The Working Group’s mandate focuses on promoting the recommendations of GCTF framework documents advocating for the respect for the rule of law in criminal justice matters, in particular in the field of terrorism investigations and prosecutions.

Our support to the Working Group and its mission took several forms so far. First, we lent a hand to the Group and its Co-Chairs in the planning and strategizing of their work by sharing substantive insights during the Working Group’s discussions on their 2022-2024 Workplan. In addition, we organized the Working Group’s annual plenary meeting in Malta in the Spring of 2023 and are currently coordinating the preparations of its 2024 plenary in Nigeria in May 2024.

Secondly, as an implementing partner, we also focus on advancing the key recommendations for the GCTF’s framework documents related to criminal justice and rule of law. We can cite several examples including the Global the Survey on Fair Trial Rights in Terrorism Cases led by the IIJ under the auspices of the EU-funded CT PHARE project, that I refer to next. In addition, we are organizing an expert meeting for the Working Group in May 2024 which will tackle the challenges posed by witness and criminal justice officials protection in the context of terrorism prosecutions and adjudications.  As a result of the discussions at the expert meeting, we will develop a toolkit to operationalize GCTF’s good practices on witness and criminal justice officials’ safety and security.

Counter-Terrorism Platform for Human Rights Engagement (CT PHARE)

Our Counter-Terrorism Platform for Human Rights Engagement (CT PHARE) is designed to raise the awareness of Human Rights in the context of counter-terrorism responses. CT PHARE is an EU funded global facility with the strategic objective to increase the degree to which states’ counterterrorism policies, legislation, and judicial strategies, in addition to day-to-day investigation and prosecution practices, comply with internationally recognized human rights standards both on the policy and the operational levels.

CT PHARE will address these key issues, by focusing on the following specific workstreams: (i) Oversight and accountability mechanisms in the context of countering terrorism to seek redress for victims and to monitor government policies in counter-terrorism; (ii) Protection of human rights in a context of militarized responses to terrorism; (iii) Pre-trial detention and the right to a fair trial; (iv) A fourth flexible workstream for requests from EU Delegations and EU/Security Experts.

Since 01 May 2023, CT PHARE conducted a total of 9 activities which included 1 Experts Group Meeting,  a global survey on the practical uses of The Hague Memorandum Good Practice 5 and The Rabat Memorandum Good Practice 7 under the workplan of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) Criminal Justice Rule of Law Working Group (CJ ROL WG), 5 capacity building activities, a GCTF CJ-ROL WG side event at the margins of the 13th GCTF Ministerial Meeting, and a Transregional Event on the margins of the GCTF 23rd Coordination Committee Meeting in Nairobi.  The survey related to the Pre-trial and Right to a Fair Trial as mentioned for workstream (iii). It is expected the survey to be endorsed by the GCTF co-chairs (EU & Egypt) at the end of March 2024.

I wish to acknowledge the support and participation of UN Global Compact Entities (CTED, UNOCT) on CT PHARE activities conducted in Kenya for Anglophone African countries, in Morrocco for Francophone African countries, in Indonesia for Southeast Asian countries, and in Jordan for the MENA countries. For the Francophone African countries activity in Morrocco, the Head of UNOCT Programme Office for Counter-Terrorism and Training in Africa participated in this event. In February 2024, CT PHARE convened a 2-day Transregional Event in Nairobi, on the margins of the 23rd GCTF Coordination Committee Meeting bringing participants from all four regional events and GCTF delegates to socialise the Framework Document and to further discuss the Good Practices in Oversight and Accountability Mechanisms in Counter-terrorism.  Again, UN Global Compact Entities (CTED) participated.

Planned Activities in 2024

CT PHARE focus will be on Protection of human rights in a context of militarized responses to terrorism workstream (ii), Pre-trial detention and the right to a fair trial workstream (iii), whereby conducting capacity building activities to enhance the operationalization of the outcomes from the survey finding under the workplan of the GCTF CJ-ROL WG. Of course, work on finalising the GCTF EU led initiative on developing a Framework Document on Good Practices in Oversight and Accountability Mechanisms in Counter-terrorism will continue throughout 2024, leading to the anticipated endorsement of this document in September at the 14th GCTF Ministerial Meeting in New York. 

Regarding the Protection of human rights in a context of militarized responses to terrorism workstream (ii), CT PHARE will deliver activities for Francophone African countries in Abidjan, Ivory Coast from 16-19 April 2024. This same activity will be replicated for Anglophone African countries and delivered in Tanzania from 21-24 May 2024.

CT PHARE team are already engaged with the UNODC Regional Coordinator of the Terrorism Prevention Branch based in Dakar, and invited UNODC to attend this activity. The CT PHARE team is again engaged with UNOCT Programme Office for Counter-Terrorism and Training in Africa for these two events. The activities themselves of four-day duration consist of working sessions, lessons learned and interactive discussions to improve participants’ understanding and application of the Human Rights-Based DMM in counter-terrorism interventions and crisis management.

Regarding the Pre-trial detention and the right to a fair trial workstream (iii), activities will be delivered for Francophone African countries and Anglophone African countries between October and December 2024. Concept Notes will be developed from action points contained in the Survey Report on The Hague Memorandum Good Practice 5 and The Rabat Memorandum Good Practice 7 under the workplan of the GCTF CJ ROL WG once endorsed by the GCTF co-chairs (April 2024). Again, CT PHARE will engage with UN Global Compact Entities covering human rights in CT across these regions.

Lastly, turning to the longer courses we are delivering at the IIJ.

Academic Unit

Since 2020, the Academic Unit has been more specifically entrusted with the design and delivery of in-depth, sub-regional and sometimes national training courses on the handling of terrorism proceedings for investigators, prosecutors and judges, entitled “Counter-Terrorism: Academic Curriculum”, known by the acronym CTAC.

These selective and intensive courses cover the main knowledge and skills required, from the initial event (a terrorist plot or attack) to the trial, in a very practical way and using a peer-to-peer approach.

The Investigation and Prosecution Counter-Terrorism Academic Curriculum (IP CTAC) course will build prosecutors’, examining judges’, and investigators’ capacities on proactive, as well as reactive, investigations and prosecution of terrorists and other related transnational crimes. Each course includes an online component, which can also be a standalone course, the eCTAC course, dedicated to proactive investigations.

Meanwhile, the IIJ’s Trial Judges CTAC (TJ CTAC) course- which also include an online component, is designed to increase judges’ capacities for adjudicating terrorism-related cases and focuses on the unique needs and roles of trial judges in counter-terrorism proceedings.

All the CTAC courses are adapted to the specific needs and legal frameworks of the IIJ’s partner countries and delivered in the main practitioners’ respective working languages (Arabic, English or French). Each course is intended to include no more than 25 participants to facilitate strengthening the practitioners’ knowledge and skills as well as enhance their networking opportunities and mutual support. The selection of countries for these courses is based on the partner States’ shared institutional, judicial and operational needs – including a common working language, similar terrorist threats, cross-border counter-terrorism procedures, a shared common law legal tradition, and an opportunity to improve international judicial cooperation.

1.    The IIJ being a hub, the Academic Unit promotes the publications of the UN and its various agencies, and the resources, reports and guides produced by the UN are of course integrated into all the learning content available to IIJ alumni, in French, English and Arabic, as are other relevant resources for practitioners.

2.   The IIJ being a training centre, through its approach based on individual and collective work, the Academic Unit contributes to the effective appropriation of these resources and tools, for example the models for letters rogatory and extradition as established and recognised internationally. It is noteworthy that these tools can be adapted on a national level and are used by practitioners in the field of terrorism, organised crime and criminal procedures in general.

3.    The Academic Unit also has recourse to UN expertise for the design and delivery of CTAC courses,

o            Expertise which it has first and foremost internally, via the resident fellows who have served the United Nations, either under the UNODC or under CTED, and who have been able, in the case of Prosecutor Samna for example, to be one of the founding practitioners of the WACAP network.

o            Externally, the Academic Unit also has recourse to collaboration with experts from the various UN agencies, whether it is a question of better understanding the threat through the intervention of CTED or the Counter-Terrorism Committee and the ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee, or on a more technical level, for example in investigations or cybercrime with the UNODC.

4.    The Academic Unit trains and relies on practitioners who are former or actual members of UN networks and agencies, the objective being to train front-line practitioners. Investigators, prosecutors and judges are often also members of UN networks such as WACAP or SEAJUST or have even been or become agents of UN agencies or networks before or after the CTAC (WACAP, SEAJUST, MONUSCO, MINUSCA).

5.    The Academic Unit is developing the network of practitioners who are already or will be members or associates of the UN by creating a dynamic community of practitioners which already has more than 200 practitioners from 35 countries who, having been trained together and having worked together, keep in touch with each other and with the IIJ via activities or Alumni meetings.

6.    Finally, the Academic Unit is honoured to be also invited to take part in meetings and work of the UN, for example the GCTF WA group on the treatment of improvised explosive devices, the annual WACAP meetings, or very recently at the invitation of UNAFEI in Tokyo, for training in French African practitioners on juvenile justice and in the future this year with UNOCT. 

18 CTACs have already been designed and delivered since November 2020. More than 8 programmes are planned this year in French, English and Arabic for African practitioners from the MENA region and South and South-East Asia, and thanks to the confidence of our donors, our multi-annual programme is expanding and will undoubtedly enable us to strengthen our partnerships with the UN even further.

Dear colleagues,

This brings me to the end of my presentation. Let me conclude with three main messages.

Cooperation with the entities within our partners of the Global Compact is crucial for the IIJ, as demonstrated in my presentation. I encourage you to connect with either myself or my colleague, Reinhard Uhrig, if you are keen on delving deeper into our work, attending events, or, even better, collaborating with us.

As highlighted, we possess a diverse toolkit, despite being a small organization currently operating solely from Malta while providing courses many regions of the world. We have various avenues for partnering with regional entities, addressing topics that align, either wholly or partially, with those of our global partners.

We highly value the exchange with Global Compact entities and aim for sustained engagement beyond this event. Our participation in the Resource Mobilization and Monitoring and Evaluation discussions in November 2023 was invaluable.

While we understand that, for now, our involvement may be on an ad hoc basis, we remain hopeful for future opportunities to continue our exchange.  

Remarks on the GCTF 23rd Coordinating Committee Meeting Session 2 “GCTF-Inspired Institutions Collaboration”

Steven Hill
Executive Secretary
International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law

Thank you to the Co-Chairs and to the host for this meeting, Kenya. This focus of this segment is the Prosecution, Rehabilitation, and Reintegration of Former Terrorists. Let me provide (1) an update on our recent work related to PRR; (2) some reflections on what we’ve learned based on this work; and (3) some recommendations for potential future work.

As a GCTF Inspired Institution, the IIJ’s value added proposition to sustainably strengthen rule of law-compliant criminal justice responses that highlight and implement GCTF’s priorities and framework documents.

In 2023, the IIJ offered over 3,000 individual training days to 900 practitioners. We did this through 28 tailored training and capacity- building activities across a wide variety of thematic and geographic areas of focus, centered on the IIJ’s core regions of Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. Various data indicators help us measure our impact.

In this work there are clear synergies between the three GCTF Inspired Institutions our engagement within various GCTF working groups, alongside the IIJ’s regular cooperation with UN agencies and other stakeholders. You can count on us to support the Co-Chairs’ vision in this regard.

Before moving on to PRR, I want to thank all those who participated in this month’s events on the occasion of the IIJ’s tenth anniversary, including the commemorative event hosted by the President of our host country Malta.

It was particularly gratifying to benefit from the presence of many of our alumni, many of whom took part in our courses as mid-level practitioners and have continued on to positions of responsibility in their countries.

What has the IIJ done on PRR to date?

Most recently we participated in October 2023 in the GCTF FTF’s Working Group the Returning FTFs Families Initiative Workshop to Integrate Policy and Practice. Let me point out one aspect of this workshop: the focus on practice. A practical, specific, and close-to- the-ground approach of sharing challenges – and how these challenges have been overcome – has great value.

This is why over the course of the past two years, the IIJ has provided a platform of exchanges and discussions on the challenges related to repatriating, rehabilitating, reintegrating — and where appropriate prosecuting and incarcerating — of nationals who are held in Northeast Syrian– including those with links to terrorist groups and their families.

This has included hosting intensive dialogues of senior practitioners involved in this work, most recently in May 2023 in Malta. Further dialogues are planned over the course of this year.

In order to draw high-level attention to this issue, we also organized in September 2023 on the occasion of the 78 the UN General Assembly a side event entitled “Enabling the Safe Return of Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs) and Associated Family Members from Northeast Syria.”

This work builds on a considerable amount of past and ongoing work on prosecution.

For example, we have an ongoing program on cross-border cooperation, including a series of workshops on mutual legal assistance for Somali practioners. The next workshop will be held here in Nairobi next week.

In 2019, the IIJ organized a Global Workshop focusing on insights from our work in the area of Battlefield Evidence and how to transfor, intelligence into evidence. Between 2017 and 2020, we organised eight workshops and a capstone event to assist criminal justice practitioners from Sahel countries in amending their national policies to better align with GCTF Good Practices.

The judicial response to children linked to terrorism has also been one of our priorities of our work on how to practically implement the GCTF Neuchatel document.

Outdated stereotypes among prosecutors about women and their role in terrorism that can also hinder prosecutorial work. We are working on this issue and will be hosting a regional summit for Southeast Asian practitioners at the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation in Indonesia next week on the role of women as terrorist actors.

What have we learned from these activities?

The lesson is clear from the perspective of criminal justice practitioners: the failure to link prosecution, rehabilitation and reintegration in an effective way will not work and could even be counter-productive.

Successfully investigating, prosecuting and adjudicating terrorism cases in a rule of law framework is challenging in every country.

From the prosecutorial point of view, the IIJ has identified a specific need for support to make the shift from confession-led to intelligence-and evidence-led investigations and prosecutions.

As our colleague from Kenya’s Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions explained the last panel, there are also challenges related to legal frameworks. My IIJ colleagues and I had the chance to visit with the Director of Public Prosecutions and his staff earlier this week; thank you for the hospitality.

There is also a continuing, more general need to improve drafting and advocacy skills to present evidence and legal arguments for a fair trial in these particularly challenging cases.

The IIJ focuses on addressing Returning Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs) and include again coordination and cooperation by: (1) encouraging international judicial cooperation; (2) helping criminal justice actors assess and respond to accompanying FTF family members, including children; and (3) promoting appropriate rehabilitative and reintegration efforts for returning FTFs.

First-hand feedback from our participants in 2023 highlighted the need for a whole-of-society approach, inclusive of civil society actors and local communities, to rehabilitative approach, that amplifies the need for increasing collaboration between judges, prosecutors, law enforcement and civil society, supported by CSOs which have monitoring, reporting, rehabilitation and even deterrent capabilities.

Recommendations for further GCTF work on PRR:

One thing stands out: this is an area where the GCTF can really add value, especially through its focus on practitioners. Of course, the IIJ is the only GCTF Inspired Institution with a specific mandate to support the implementation and operationalisation of GCTF Good Practices for criminal justice practitioners. But PRR is an ideal area where we can work together as the three GCTF Inspired Institutions (IIJ, GCERF, Hedaya), alongside our regular cooperation with UN agencies, including UNOCT and UNODC.

Comprehensive strategies to respond to these challenges entails 1/ right-sizing our cooperation to be holistic-oriented, 2/ addressing specific and measurable objectives, 3/ amplifying the advantages of the GCTF and its Inspired Institutions’ respective strengths.

The outcome of such cooperation could feed GCTF influence on normative practices as it has been the case with the GCTF Hague – Marrakesh Memorandum on Good Practices for a More Effective Response to the FTF Phenomenon.


On behalf of the IIJ, I wish to reiterate our heartfelt gratitude for the generous support we have received since our inception 10 years ago that enable our institution to make a practical difference in the counterterrorism realm, and for the ongoing and expanded support we continue to receive to help sustain our work as a GCTF Inspired Institution.

Press Release: Enabling the Safe Return of Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs) and Associated Family Members from Northeast Syria – UNGA 78

Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Richard R. Verma, United States, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein, Republic of Iraq, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Fionnuala D. Ní Aoláin, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Ted Chaiban, and other distinguished experts and government representatives will highlight the ongoing humanitarian and security crisis in the detention facilities and at al-Hol and Roj displaced persons camps in northeast Syria.

This United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 78) side event is hosted by the United States Department of State, in partnership with the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJ)

Westin Grand Central Hotel on September 20, 3:30 pm

Open press and on the record remarks 3:30-4:15pm

Limited seats and pooling available for Press

Zoom Webinar also available:

New York, NY, USA: The side event will address the important security and humanitarian implications of ISIS detention facilities and al-Hol and Roj displaced persons camps from those displaced after the 2019 territorial defeat of ISIS in northeast Syria. Countries will discuss solutions to the challenges to repatriation and returns, as well as rehabilitation, reintegration, and where applicable, prosecution.

Some quotes:

At the June Defeat-ISIS Coalition Ministerial in Riyadh, Secretary Blinken underscored that the status quo in northeast Syria is “unsustainable” and urged countries to take a more active role in addressing the dire humanitarian, human rights, and security conditions in al-Hol and Roj camps and SDF detention centers through repatriations and stabilization support in communities of return.

 Blinken: Islamic State Fight ‘Not Yet Done’ (

In a fireside chat in April, Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the U.S. Department of State Ian Moss highlighted the security concerns of the detained fighters: “Ten thousand ISIS fighters remain in custody there, which is the largest concentration of detained terrorists anywhere in the world.  ISIS continues to look for new opportunities to replenish its ranks by trying to free these detained fighters.  If they escape, they will pose a threat not only to northeast Syria and the region but to our homelands.”

Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism Ian Moss Fireside Chat with Matthew Levitt | StateNewswire (

After her six-day visit to northeast Syria, UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights Fionnuala D.Ní Aoláin said, “We cannot hold 10,000 people in a box where no one sees what happens to them and their children, it is fundamentally unacceptable by any measure of a civilised and humane treatment of persons in a condition of detention.

Children forcibly separated from mothers at Syria’s Al Hol, warns top rights expert | UN News

“It is crucial to enhance mutual understanding of the challenges associated with prosecuting repatriated nationals from northeast Syria. Further international dialogue can help provide opportunities to learn from countries that have successfully prosecuted nationals they have repatriated, giving those considering repatriation and those continuing to repatriate nationals the tools and contacts they need to do so successfully.”

The IIJ Executive Secretary, Steven Hill, following the last FTF Event organized by the IIJ in Malta, May 2023.

Additional Material For Press:

Between 2011 and 2019, tens of thousands of people left more than 60 countries to fight for the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).  Today, approximately 2,000 ISIS foreign fighters remain in detention facilities operated by the non-state Syrian Democratic Forces in northeast Syria. The situation presents significant national security and humanitarian concerns that threaten regional and global security.

The United States seeks to mitigate threats posed by detained ISIS fighters to prevent an ISIS resurgence.  To date, the United States has facilitated dozens of repatriation operations of detained fighters and associated family members from northeast Syria (NES) to their countries of origin and provided technical advice and assistance to many countries investigating, prosecuting, incarcerating, rehabilitating, and reintegrating their nationals.  

At the al–Hol camp, roughly 50% of residents are under 12 years of age.  Unless action is taken, they will continue to suffer hardship.  Displaced persons, particularly children, require basic life support services and advanced psychosocial support, which cannot be effectively provided in NES.

The situation in NES presents severe humanitarian and local, regional, and international security concerns. Conditions in the camps limit the provision of humanitarian aid and political dynamics in northeast Syria make it challenging for countries to visit and to repatriate their nationals.  The United States supports efforts to encourage and facilitate repatriations of fighters and associated family members from NES. The United States’ position is that repatriations are the most durable solution to the ongoing security and humanitarian crisis in NES and encourages countries of origin to repatriate, rehabilitate, reintegrate, and prosecute where appropriate, FTFs and associated family members.

Rehabilitating and reintegrating those who return to their countries of origin from Syria – whether or not they serve prison time – is vital to addressing the cycles of violence and radicalization to violence by ISIS.   From Morocco to Indonesia, the United States supports programs that reduce the likelihood that people who return from northeast Syria will continue to support terrorism.  The United States also lends its expertise to interested countries of origin in the development of good practices for effective rehabilitation and reintegration of FTFs and associated family members.  The United States supports the inclusion of language in counterterrorism-related UN resolutions that recognize the need for UN Member States to develop effective strategies to deal with returnees. 

The risk of an ISIS resurgence in NES far outweighs the risks posed by FTFs and associated family members once repatriated.   Recognizing this, the United States will continue to offer support to countries of origin to effectively manage their repatriation efforts. As Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism Ian Moss said, “We cannot ignore our way out of this problem.  We must continue to leverage our counterterrorism cooperation to repatriate the remaining foreign fighters while also mitigating the risks.” 

One of the IIJ’s main initiatives is The Returning Foreign Terrorist Fighters (RFTFs) Initiative, which works with policy-makers and practitioners at the local and national levels to adopt and implement coherent policies that foster an inter-agency approach to the rehabilitation and reintegration of terrorist fighters. The initiative helps implement the GCTF’s “Hague-Marrakech Memorandum on Good Practices for a More Effective Response to the FTF Phenomenon,” as well as UN Security Council Resolution 2178.

Although launched in 2015 to focus on FTFs, those combatants who came from other countries to fight, the project pivoted in response to the evolution of the global threat, shifting to focus on returning FTFs, or those fighters who returned from conflict zones to their home countries. Under this Initiative, with support from the Government of the Netherlands, the IIJ spearheaded an important multi-phased program to assist the Governments of Chad and Mali in adapting the Hague-Marrakech Memorandum to their national security contexts. Other projects under this Initiative have supported actions in relevant UN Security Council Resolutions and implementation of the GCTF’s “Good Practices on Addressing the Challenge of Returning Families of Foreign Terrorist Fighters.” The IIJ concluded its work with Chad and Mali and remains committed to assisting both countries in their efforts to include rehabilitation and reintegration programs for terrorist fighters in their national CVE strategies.

Visual identity:

Press Contacts:

Ali Khair

Communication and Outreach Manager, IIJ:

Parvina Abduvohobova

Programme Manager, IIJ:

Remarks on the Integrated Border Stability Mechanism for West Africa (ISBM)

Steven Hill
Executive Secretary
International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law

I would like to thank UNODC, UNOCT, IOM and Germany for inviting me to take part in this important discussion regarding the Integrated Border Stability Mechanism (IBSM) for West Africa. Like all of you gathered here, the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law, or IIJ, is committed to advancing the rule of law, justice, security, and human rights in the context of countering terrorism and transnational organized crime, with particular focus on the countries of West Africa. Border security and stability are integral to all the work we collectively do.

First, a bit of background. The IIJ was established in 2014 and one of three institutions inspired by the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF). Some of our 12 founding members and the European Union are present today, as well as many GCTF members and active supporters and partners of the IIJ, including Japan.

Our mandate is to provide rule of law-based training to lawmakers, police, prosecutors, judges, corrections officials, and other justice sector stakeholders on how to address terrorism and related transnational organized crime. The IIJ also works to strengthen criminal justice systems and build regional judicial, police and other criminal justice practitioner networks to promote justice, security and human rights.

Our work is non-political, technical, practitioner-focused, and based on a peer-to-peer approach. We have a committed 30-person team, from 20 different nationalities, with a range of senior criminal justice practitioners from countries across the globe. From its inception in 2014, in addition to Middle East and Southeast Asia, the IIJ has focused a substantial portion of its work in Africa and especially West Africa, establishing long-lasting partnerships with practitioners and other organizations – including IOM, UNODC and UNOCT — to support effective criminal justice responses to terrorism. Though border security has never been the singular focus of any of our wide range of programs, nearly all of the work we do impacts, and is impacted, by strong border security. Thank you for the opportunity to explain how.

Let me start with a basic precept that brings us all together today: terrorism is a uniquely cross-border phenomenon — the way fighters are recruited, terrorist groups are structured, supplies are furnished, funds are raised, attacks are committed against victims from various nationalities and propaganda is shared is almost inherently transnational. This necessarily means that the way criminal justice practitioners combat terrorism must be equally transversal — how evidence is gathered and shared, cases built, witnesses and victims identified and protected, and defendants found and held accountable. This is exactly how the IIJ contributes to the fight against terrorism – by equipping practitioners with the skills to investigate and prosecute cases with international dimensions.

Let me give you some examples.

Since it was created in 2020, our Academic Unit has offered intensive HR and RoL based core courses Counter Terrorism Academic Curriculum (in French, programme de perfectionnement Contre- terrorisme : Approfondissement des compétences, CTAC).

These tailored, intensive and subregional courses are focusing on counter-terrorism investigative skills for selected women and men,mid-level to senior practitioners, reinforcing the skills essential to holding terrorists accountable. Integral to these curricula is collaborative and inter-agency approach, coordination at a national basis (from capitals to borders) to strengthen cross-border cooperation (police-to-police, justice-to-justice) and the effective use of cross border instruments and platforms (including G5 Sahel, Interpol for instance) at every relevant stage of a case, whether collecting evidence, victims or suspects. This is also a way to develop subregional dynamic professional networks within our Alumni, to facilitate cooperation across boarders in due respect of State sovereignty.

We have now offered the CTAC course, and its online eCTAC component, to practitioners from up to12 countries in West Africa and Sahel in their working language (Arabic, English or French). More broadly, we are currently working with 23 countries in North, East, Central, and West Africa. We have just Monday launched our first ever CTAC for West African Francophone trial judges , alongside another iteration of our CTAC for prosecutors and investigative judges from West Africa.

As an institution, through our own activities, via our internal expertise as well as within our alumni network, we also actively participate in various fora with partners to strengthen some key points mentioned during this inaugural meeting, such as last June the fight against proliferation and use of weapons, ammunitions and IEDs during the last (GCTF) West Africa Working Group Meeting in Togo or to promote cooperative platforms during the Twelfth plenary meeting of the West African Central Authorities and Prosecutors’ Network (WACAP) held in Banjul (Gambia).

Our Monitoring and evaluation assessments show that all these skills and knowledge are transferable in various transnational issues such as arms smuggling, drugs trafficking or human trafficking and are, as I mentioned earlier, directly linked to strengthening cooperative border governance and security in areas strategically relevant for regional stability for neighbouring countries.

Our Programmatic Unit builds upon and expands these skills with a wide range of programs that address both foundational competencies common to all CT investigations, as well as specific aspects of the fight against terrorism. For instance, we have a lengthy history of working with practitioners on mutual legal assistance, helping to improve the way evidence is shared across international borders. This includes the expertise to determine when evidence from another country is important to a case, and the skills necessary to make the full range of informal, law-enforcement-to-law-enforcement and diplomatic requests for that evidence.

But our work on MLA goes way beyond that. We’ve drafted guiding principles on how to establish a central authority, which is the national mechanism to manage international evidence exchange, and have run a series of regional programs to disseminate it. By way of examplse from other sub-regions of Africa, we’ve recently offered a program for Tanzania, Mozambique and Malawi to improve how they address shared security problems along their common borders. We helped Senegal draft the first wholesale revision of its MLA law since 1971. And we’re actively helping Somalia develop its first ever domestic legislation to create a mechanism for MLA and extradition. What could be more central to strong border stability than a plan for addressing shared cross-border challenges and a rule-of-law based mechanism for exchanging evidence to hold wrong-doers accountable?

As I mentioned, we also offer a wide range of programming on specific aspects of terrorism, always raising awareness of, and building skills to effectively investigate and prosecute, the cross-border dimensions. For example, we’ve run a very well-received series of programs on sexual violence as a weapon of terrorism, the very first of which was in Burkina Faso in partnership with the Ministry of Gender. This initiative looks at how terrorist organizations use sexual violence as a strategic tool to recruit fighters, humiliate and condition resistors, destabilize communities, and spawn the next generation of fighters.

But it also focuses on the junction of sexual violence and human trafficking, whereby terrorist groups sell a portion of their sexual violence victims across borders to raise funds for terrorist operations. Raising practitioner awareness of these operating tactics, reinforcing their ability to detect and stop cross-border human trafficking of sexual violence victims and others, and equipping them with the tools to hold wrong-doers responsible directly impacts regional border security.

Over the last two years, the IIJ has also launched a new initiative to combat the financing of terrorism. Rather than duplicating introductory programming that others have already offered, we’ve dived right into the details, working with countries in West Africa to address deficiencies noted in their FATF audits. This has included, most notably, a series of sub-regional workshops in Cote d’Ivoire on how terrorist organizations exploit cash-rich businesses and the non-profit sector to launder funds and finance their operations.

For money laundering to be successful, dirty funds must move from where they are raised, through legitimate operations, to where they are needed. In the terrorism context, this almost always involves transport of laundered funds across international boundaries, often physically through bulk cash smuggling. IIJ programs bring together investigators and prosecutors, regulatory officials, regional financial bodies like the Egmont Group, and private sector to understand these criminal trends, discuss shared challenges and find practical solutions. Because the more they collectively understand how money is made, laundered and moved, the better they can protect businesses and non-profits from exploitation and detect abuse when they see it. And criminal justice practitioners who have the capacity to build terrorist finance cases based on illegal movement of funds have a direct impact on the amount of dirty money that moves across borders.

Finally, I would like to highlight also The Counter-Terrorism Platform for Human Rights Engagement (CT PHARE), a new global facility funded by the European Union’s Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI), which of course includes West Africa. CT PHARE’s objective is to increase the degree to which states’ counter-terrorism policies, legislation, day-today investigation, prosecution and judicial strategies comply with European and internationally recognised human rights standards which contribute to the collaborative approach with our partners. This is also a way to support African Union and ISBSM objective on this positive potential of borders “as vectors to promote peace, security, and stability, and to improve and accelerate integration through effective governance of borders while facilitating easy movement of people, goods, services and capital among AU Member States”.

This is just a sampling of the types of programs the IIJ offers; I haven’t mentioned, for instance, our significant work on juvenile justice in the context of terrorism, collection and use of battlefield evidence, and an ever-expanding range of other topics linked to the fight against terrorism. I hope this helps illustrate, however, how IIJ programming helps reinforce the integrated safety net at West Africa’s borders by training professionals to understand, investigate and prosecute terrorism and other cross-border crime. The IIJ is supportive of the Integrated Border Stability Mechanism for West Africa launched today to further improve international coordination and collaboration for enhanced integrated border management capacity development in West Africa, including through our dynamic IIJ Alumni network. On behalf of the entire team at the IIJ, I commend you all on your efforts to improve border safety and stability in the region, and re-iterate our commitment to working with you all as part of long-term regional solutions.

MOC between the IIJ and UNAFEI

Our Executive Secretary, Mr. Steven Hill signed, in Vienna, a Memorandum of Cooperation between the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law and the United Nations Asia and Far East Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (UNAFEI).

With this memorandum, we express our commitment to establishing a mutually beneficial working relationship with the UNAFEI, involving cooperation and exchange of information and expertise aimed at providing continuous education and training programmes on criminal justice.

The UNAFEI was established with the aim of promoting the sound development of criminal justice systems and mutual cooperation, primarily in the Asia and Pacific Regions. The activities of UNAFEI focus on training courses and seminars for personnel in crime prevention and criminal justice administration, and the research and study of crime prevention and the treatment of offenders.

Given the overlap between several of our guiding principles, and the scope of our activities, our cooperation promises to provide both institutions with a more extensive network of expertise pertinent to our aligning missions, resulting in overall enhanced capacity-building activities for both Parties.
We endeavour to increase information exchange, collaborate in identifying, collecting and disseminating best practices, lessons learned, and research findings expertise to strengthen the rule of law-based criminal justices’ responses to countering transnational threats and challenges including but not limited to terrorism and violent extremism, and we will explore opportunities for joint research activities on topics of mutual interest.

We welcome UNAFEI to attend workshops, meetings, conferences, and other events that we organise which are relevant to the subject matter of this MoC, and we will explore opportunities to jointly convene workshops, conferences or other meetings on topics and mutually-agreed issues.

We continue to recognise the importance and necessity of international collaboration to identify and address trends, needs and gaps ensuring the effective and efficient delivery of sustainable, impactful and practical capacity-building assistance in criminal justice, and the present Memorandum of Cooperation with the UNAFEI is yet another step towards the critical goal of enhanced international collaboration in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice.

Global Counterterrorism Forum 21st GCTF Coordinating Committee Meeting

Remarks of Steven Hill, Executive Secretary, International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law

4 May 2023 – Cairo

I would like to thank GCTF Co-Chairs Egypt and the European Union for the opportunity for the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJ) to brief GCTF members on the status of the IIJ’s work. I would like to congratulate Morocco on its recently concluded service as GCTF Co-Chair.

The IIJ’s mandate is to work with criminal justice practitioners – judges, prosecutors, investigators, police, and others as well as policy makers – to help build their capacity to handle cases involving counterterrorism in line with the rule of law and human rights.

Our work is non-political, technical, practitioner-focused, and based on a peer-to-peer approach. Our 30-person team based in Malta includes a range of practitioners such as the former counterterrorism chief prosecutor from Niger as well as senior criminal justice practitioners from several other countries.

Given this orientation, we welcome the plan of the Co-Chairs to identify and address the needs of practitioners as a core element of their strategy for a revitalized GCTF.

Since its inception in 2014, the IIJ has worked with over 8000 participants from 125 countries.

In 2022, the IIJ organised 27 capacity-building activities with a wide range of thematic and geographic areas of focus. We worked with a total of 905 practitioners. 33% were women and 67% were men. Striving toward gender parity is an important goal for the IIJ, and we have more work to do.

Africa has always historically been, and continues to be, a main geographic focus region for the IIJ. Of the practitioners with whom the IIJ worked in 2022, 495 or 55 percent originated from 35 African countries. 25% were women and 75% were men.

Since the last Coordinating Committee meeting in September 2022, we have organized three longer-form core courses and 10 shorter-form focused programmes. We have also launched the EU-funded Counterterrorism Platform for Human Rights Engagement (CT PHARE) project, which is focused at

putting human rights at the core of action against terrorism. The activities feature a focus on the implementation of GCTF documents.

All of these activities are inclusive, practitioner-focused, designed to maximize effectiveness, and carefully monitored through a data-driven approach. They illustrate not only the depth of our commitment to working with criminal justice practitioners, especially from Africa, but also the range of international partners with which we collaborate as well as our commitment to working with civil society.

Since September 2022, we have offered our core course – the Counter-Terrorism Academic Curriculum (CTAC) – to cohorts of judges, prosecutors, and investigators from francophone African countries, Arabic-speaking countries, and Southeast Asian countries. This month, we will begin this course for anglophone African practitioners. So far, these specialized courses have included about 130 mid- to senior-level counterterrorism practitioners from 21 countries in North, Central, East, and West Africa, including 25% of women.

Other programmes have focused on a wide range of topics of relevance to practitioners. I will mention a selection of these programmes here.

In collaboration with UNODC, Interpol, and GIABA, we organised three programmes in a new initiative to combat terrorist financing. These gathered practitioners first from 10 countries in West Africa, and later from the Middle East and North Africa region, to discuss how terrorist groups exploit the non-profit sector and other cash-dependent entities to finance their operations.

We also offered three regional programmes on the investigation and prosecution of sexual violence linked to terrorism, working with UNODC, the Dennis Mukwege Foundation, the Special Tribunal in the Central African Republic and a range of other specialists on the matter.

We also gathered first French-speaking civil law practitioners in Burkina Faso, then English-speaking common law practitioners in Malawi and Uganda, to understand the unique challenges associated with investigating and prosecuting this type of crime. So far, these specialized courses gathered about 130 mid to senior-level CT practitioners from 21 countries of North, Central, West and East Africa, including 25% women.

We also launched our first regional programme on Excessive Pre-Trial Detention in West Africa, welcoming practitioners from 10 countries in the region to Benin to discuss this pressing procedural issue, which has very significant human rights implications. The debate was enriched by a range of civil society actors.

And we undertook three programmes on international judicial cooperation in Kenya and Somalia, working with UNODC, the EU’s mission in Somalia, and others.

All of these activities start with an assessment of practitioner needs to ensure the programmes are topical and relevant. They also engage practitioners not only in the development and design of our activities, but in their delivery. Recognizing and reinforcing the breadth of local expertise is central to our approach.

Our work is flexible and responsive to practitioners’ needs, including as these needs change with the evolving nature of the threat of terrorism. For example, we have on several occasions paused programme implementation to take stock of evolving requirements and adjust our work accordingly.

As implementing partner, we recently worked with Italy and Nigeria to organize the Plenary Meeting of the Criminal Justice and Rule of Law (CJROL) Working group took place in Malta on 27 April 2023. This Plenary Meeting was an opportunity to present and highlight this working group’s main priority areas and for us at the IIJ also an opportunity to introduce one of the deliverables that the IIJ is working on under the CT PHARE project: a Survey on the Right to a Fair Trial in Counterterrorism Cases.

Finally, our network of approximately 8000 alumni practitioners represents a true resource for understanding practitioners’ perspectives. We have recently completed a survey of our alumni to identify subjects that would be most helpful to them in their work.

Three of our alumni– from the Central African Republic, Mozambique, and Uganda – shared their perspectives with you during yesterday’s panel. We are grateful for their willingness to be with us for this discussion, which was an explain of the peer-to-peer approach that often generates insights and learning for all involved.

In conclusion, the IIJ’s unique, practitioner-focused way of working has not only enabled us to succeed so far, but also represents our valued added proposition in supporting the GCTF’s priorities in the years to come.

We are grateful for the generous support for the sustainability of the IIJ’s work as a GCFT Inspired Institution provided to date. This support can come in a variety of forms including financial contributions, secondments of personnel, contribution of subject matter experts to events, and other ways of ensuring that we can continue to support the GCTF in its important work.

The IIJ team is looking forward to work with the GCTF co-chairs, the CJROL co- chairs and other working groups as relevant on the priorities and is thrilled by the enhanced focus on Africa.

Opening Remarks by Steven Hill REMVE: Radicalisation in the Ranks


As part of our Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremism (REMVE) initiative, we hosted in Malta a roundtable focused on radicalisation within the security services’ ranks. This constitutes an important element of our efforts to develop the first-ever guide for criminal justice practitioners to counter REMVE, which we launched almost two years ago.

Ian Moss, Steven Hill and Gail Malone.

The event is personally important to me, due to my previous assignments at the U.S. National Security Council and NATO, and I am glad that we had an incredible group of experts joining us. Our participants included practitioners, policymakers, as well as non-governmental experts. The presence and commitment of our guest participants is a testament to the importance of the topic and the determination of everyone involved in making a difference.

As a nonpartisan multinational organisation, the IIJ is a platform for discussion that encourages intercultural dialogue in the development of capacity-building of criminal justice practitioners respecting Human Rights and the Rule of Law. With 13 Board Members and 30 staff members, we are a relatively small but highly dynamic institution. We have received funding from a wide range of donors – including the US, UK, Germany, Australia, France, Switzerland, Denmark, Italy, Canada, the EU, and now Kuwait – and our mission has always been to bring criminal justice and security professionals together on topics related to how to fight terrorism in line with human rights and the rule of law.

We offer a wide range of both foundational courses and more advanced workshops. We also offer programs that lend strategic support and assist in policy development. Further, in a growing set of disciplines, including battlefield evidence and REMVE, we use our convening authority and subject matter expertise to sponsor forums for expert exchange, such as this one.

The REMVE has been a core IIJ topic for over three years. We started work on the initiative in 2019 with series of expert group meetings, and, in 2020 and 2021, we conducted trends analysis to explore the rapidly changing landscape and identify the most pressing topics. In 2021, we also launched and distributed a REMVE Practitioners Guide, which is now available in six languages. Since then, we have held a series of tailored technical programs to analyse specific, emerging and complex threats and vulnerabilities.

In October 2022, we organised a programme in London, where we gathered researchers, academics, criminal justice practitioners, tech experts, and policy makers. The programme focused on online radicalisation, particular vulnerability of youth as a class, and links between radicalisation and specific subsets of youth, including the neurodiverse. Each REMVE programme aims to advance our collective understanding of the rapidly evolving radicalisation landscape as well as to identify tools to help address it.

The IIJ signs a Memorandum of Understanding with the Kuwait Institute for Judicial and Legal Studies

On 6 December 2022, the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law and Kuwait Institute for Judicial and Legal Studies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Kuwait to establish a strategic cooperation framework between both Institutes.

This MoU will enhance collaborations to support criminal justice practitioners’ responses to counter terrorism and violent extremism with a rule of law and human rights context.

On signing the MoU, IIJ Executive Secretary Steven Hill said “The IIJ is grateful for the support of the Government of Kuwait as a member of the Governing Board of Administrators. This MoU sheds light on  the IIJ’s efforts to expand its network of partnerships with like-minded Institutes to further support our practitioners in their work.”

The IIJ welcomes Minister Ian Borg to Valletta headquarters during official visit

On 30 November 2022, the IIJ Executive Secretariat welcomed Hon. Dr. Ian Borg, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs and Trade, accompanied by Mr. Christopher Cutajar, Permanent Secretary for Foreign and European Affairs and Trade to the IIJ’s headquarters at the University of Malta in Valletta. 

During his visit, the Minister met with newly appointed IIJ Executive Secretary Mr. Steven Hill, Unit Directors and IIJ staff members and thanked the IIJ for the impactful work, noting that Malta was proud to host the Institute. 

Mr. Hill thanked the Minister for his visit to the IIJ and expressed his gratitude to the Government of Malta for the continued support and commitment to the IIJ mission and vision. Since the IIJ’s inception in 2014, Malta has provided a neutral learning environment where sensitive topics can be discussed in a constructive manner, and its central location in the Mediterranean has made it accessible for participants from across Africa, the Middle East, and other regions.

New Executive Secretary for the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law

The International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJ) is pleased to announce that its Governing Board of Administrators has appointed Steven Hill as Executive Secretary.

Mr. Hill brings a wealth of experience to the IIJ after more than 20 years of public service in support of justice and the rule of law at national and multinational levels. In his previous role, he served as the Director for Global Criminal Justice and Multilateral Affairs at the National Security Council at the White House in Washington. Prior to this role, Mr Hill served for six years as the chief legal advisor to the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Brussels.

Mr. Hill has extensive experience in international law and cooperation at the multilateral and bilateral levels. He has previously worked as Counselor for Legal Affairs at the United States Mission to the United Nations in New York, where he represented the Government of the United States on a wide range of issues in the Security Council and General Assembly and served on the supervisory boards of several international tribunals. He also led the legal unit at the International Civilian Office, European Union Special Representative in Kosovo, where his work focused on advising and building the capacity of local authorities.

“I am looking forward to starting this new journey at the IIJ,” Mr. Hill said, “The IIJ is a unique platform that helps build the capacity of practitioners such as prosecutors, judges, and others who play essential roles in countering the evolving threats of contemporary terrorism, violent extremism and transnational crime in different regions of the world” he added.

Aside from his work as a practitioner, Mr. Hill frequently teaches, lectures, and publishes international law and national security topics. He has served on the Executive Council of the American Society of International Law as well as expert groups on a wide range of international law issues. He is a member of the New York bar.

Announcement of Executive Director Transition

The International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJ) announces that Thomas Wuchte will depart from his role as Executive Secretary after more than 5 years at the helm.

The IIJ Governing Board of Administrators (GBA) thanked Mr. Wuchte for his exceptional leadership during his tenure. Through his efforts the IIJ developed into an internationally recognized training institute for criminal justice practitioners, doubling the size of the staff, extending the geographic scope of engagement to include Asia, Africa, and Europe, training over 5,000 practitioners, establishing a one-of-a-kind Academic Unit, and expanding the donor base and institutional partnerships.

Mr. Wuchte said “It has been my great privilege to lead the IIJ for the past 5 years alongside an incredibly talented group of staff. I am proud of our achievements and impact across the IIJ’s focus regions. As the threat of terrorism, violent extremism, and related transnational crime continues to evolve, we have set strong foundations for the IIJ to serve as a trusted and reliable resource within partner governments, in cooperation with our dedicated practitioners, and civil society to collaborate together while facing these challenges in their daily work.”

Mr. Wuchte leaves the IIJ on 11 November 2022. The new Executive Secretary, appointed by the IIJ Governing Board, is taking up his assignment and will be introduced in a separate correspondence.

Send a Message to