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ICRC launches video on the human cost of ignoring the Geneva Conventions 

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has launched an ad-style video that illustrates the terrifying human cost of ignoring the Geneva Conventions and aims to raise awareness of international humanitarian law. The 60-second film, Victory by Any Means, which uses real clips from conflicts around the world, takes viewers on a journey from utopian dream to humanitarian nightmare. It is the hardest-hitting campaign ad of its kind from the ICRC.


“The bombing of hospitals, the massive displacement of civilians and the scourge of sexual violence in war have almost become commonplace,” said ICRC President, Peter Maurer. “Human suffering in conflict is nothing new. But collectively, we’re failing in our response to it. Not enough countries, not enough armies, not enough armed groups, are abiding by the fundamental human values enshrined in the Geneva Conventions. When international humanitarian law is violated we all, ultimately, pay the price.”

Starting with an upbeat voiceover and stirring music the ad initially depicts a utopian dream, using imagery of what seems to be a safe and prosperous nation. As it continues, the voiceover becomes more threatening and the mood darkens. Viewers begin to see footage of violations of international humanitarian law – with schools and hospitals being bombed, degrading treatment inflicted on prisoners and the use of chemical weapons. The film ends on scenes of destruction and desolation – the result of a “victory by any means” approach to war.

“The Geneva Conventions are based on the principle that wars have limits, and these limits are as necessary today as they ever were,” said the Director of international law and policy at the ICRC, Helen Durham.

“Every state around the world has signed up to the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit attacks on medical facilities, torture and the mistreatment of prisoners. Those with the power to make such practices stop have a legal duty to do so. The Geneva Conventions help preserve our humanity during times of conflict. If we lose that, what are any of us left with?”

Viewers of the film are invited to visit the website to learn more on the Conventions. The ad will be distributed on Facebook and other social channels. It was created in collaboration with global marketing and technology agency DigitasLBi and customer engagement agency Kitcatt Nohr.

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