Lou McGrath OBE with LJMU Vice-Chancellor Professor Nigel Weatherill
Presented by Andrew Zsigmond
Honourable Pro-Chancellor, I have pleasure in presenting Lou McGrath for the award of an Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University.
Born in West Derby and raised in Birkenhead, Lou is a proud son of Merseyside who has dedicated his life to improving the lives of those living in regions blighted by war. In 1989, along with his brother Rae, he founded the Mines Advisory Group (MAG). Operating originally out of a caravan in Cockermouth, Cumbria, Lou's work with MAG started off with surveys of landmine impact in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Iraq and Somaliland, which then developed into mine clearing operations in Cambodia and Iraq, and became extended to other areas affected by war including Angola, Bosnia, Laos and Rwanda.
MAG has since become one of the most significant anti-mines NGOs worldwide and in 1992 the group co-founded the International Campaign to Ban Landmines along with five other international NGOs. Through extensive data collection, analysis, lobbying and campaigning, these allied NGOs sought a ban on the use of landmines.
These efforts, in which MAG and Lou himself played an extensive role, culminated in the signing of the Ottawa Treaty in 1997 (AKA the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction), a landmark agreement to which 162 countries, including all European states, are now signatories.
It is for this achievement that Lou, his brother Rae and the other members of the steering committee were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997, and Lou's personal efforts in the campaign against landmines were also recognised domestically when he was awarded an OBE in 1998.
Although the signing of the Ottawa Treaty was a huge success, Lou's campaigning work to eliminate the threat of landmines did not cease there. As the leader of MAG, he oversaw the continuation of the group’s work to deal with the effects of warzone ordnance, and he started MAG America in Washington DC to raise the profile and more importantly, the funds, for its vital work. After stepping down as Chief Executive of MAG in 2011, Lou has remained active in the campaign against landmines and in May 2016 he became the Chief Executive of 'Find A Better Way', the charity launched by Bobby Charlton to develop and exploit technology, facilitate education and provide humanitarian assistance to victims and their families in order to reduce fatalities and future injuries, alleviate hardship and ultimately negate the effects of landmines and Explosive Remnants of War.
Lou's career of humanitarian work has saved the lives of countless inhabitants of war zones worldwide, and led to a landmark international agreement to prevent conflicts creating generation after generation of such victims.
And so, for his sustained and outstanding achievements in campaigning and awareness raising, it is with great pleasure that I present Lou McGrath for admission to our highest honour, as an Honorary Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University.