What should the coalition’s stated purpose be?
A group of organisations will only come together to work as a coalition if they have some agreement on a problem that needs to be addressed and on what needs to be done about it. Thus a coalition needs to have some formulation of its purpose that can be used to focus collective work and explain to external partners (and other would-be coalition members) what the venture is about.
This initial formulation of purpose is very important and will serve to frame the future work of the coalition. It might need to provide an approach to the issues that is broad enough to give the coalition room to manoeuvre as external circumstances develop – but for a campaigning coalition the more direct and simple it is, the more likely it will function effectively as a motivating communication tool.
A number of campaigns have been established on very broad themes but often these provide an overarching umbrella for more specific policy goals. People engaged across a range of coalitions have tended to emphasise that a narrower focus is preferable for generating momentum and ultimately achieving policy change.
The CMC did not always have a narrow focus towards a ban on cluster munitions. When it was first established, the CMC was concerned also with the wider problem of ‘explosive remnants of war’ from all types of explosive ordnance. While it could be argued that this wider framing reduced coalition effectiveness in the early stages, it may also have provided the space for people to work towards common agreement regarding the coalition’s direction.