07 February 2011

Campaigners grateful to outgoing CMC coordinator

CMC Coordinator Thomas Nash at the Oslo signing ceremony of the Convention on Cluster Munitions in December 2008. Photo credit: Federico Visi.Led successful push for international treaty banning cluster bombs(London, 7 February 2011) – Thomas Nash stepped down as coordinator of the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) on 31 January 2011 after seven years of inspiring leadership of the global campaign to ban cluster bombs. Under his direction, the CMC grew immensely from its founding in 2003 through the negotiation, adoption and entry into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions."Thomas's incredible range of skills, along with his boundless energy, keen insights and political judgement, were absolutely essential to the great success of the Cluster Munition Coalition," said Steve Goose, chair of the CMC.A New Zealand native, Nash, 31, graduated from Victoria University of Wellington in 2000 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and French. He went on to serve as executive assistant to disarmament Ambassador Clive Pearson at New Zealand’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, where he worked on issues including the small arms trade and the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. His work on the latter introduced him to members of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL).After marrying Paula Eyzaguirre in 2003, Nash relocated to Ottawa, Canada where he worked for ICBL member Mines Action Canada on the campaign to ban cluster munitions, which was formally launched at the end of that year. Nash took on coordination of the CMC in 2004, a position he held for the next seven years.During the campaign’s initial years, Nash worked with a steering committee of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to grow the movement and advocate for international action to stop civilian harm caused by cluster munitions. He documented the humanitarian impact of Israel’s use of cluster munitions in Lebanon, including during the August 2006 conflict. On behalf of the CMC, Nash worked closely with the government of Norway as it launched the diplomatic Oslo Process to create an international treaty to tackle the weapon. He engaged with other core group governments as they steered the process through Lima, Vienna, Wellington, and other capitals to the May 2008 adoption of the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Dublin, Ireland.Since the Convention opened for signature in Oslo in December 2008, Nash has worked to ensure its universalisation and implementation. For many, he has been the public face of the CMC, serving as an interlocutor with governments and key partners, as well as a spokesperson at diplomatic meetings and in the media."The battle to ban cluster munitions was a tough one, and Thomas’s job as CMC coordinator has been stressful and demanding," said Grethe Ostern of Norwegian People’s Aid, a former CMC co-chair. "But every single day of these years he has achieved his goals whilst also treating all people with respect and kindness."Nash announced his decision to step down as CMC coordinator following the close of the historic First Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, held in Vientiane, Lao PDR in November 2010. He intends to remain active on issues related to the CMC’s work through a new initiative to confront the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. He will continue to work from the offices of London-based Action on Armed Violence, where the CMC has been based since 2005.In a farewell message to campaigners, Nash described the experience of coordinating the CMC as "the most enriching endeavour I have ever undertaken." He called on all members of the CMC and its sister organisation, the ICBL, to "remain as determined and energetic as you have always been in carrying forward the work to eradicate mines and cluster bombs."A recruitment process is under way to hire a new CMC director, who will join the staff team coordinating the global campaigns to ban landmines and cluster munitions. The CMC will carry on the work Nash led to urge as many countries as possible to join and fully implement the cluster munition ban.