News release

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

Geneva (ICRC) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has today launched an ad-style video which 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 the president of the ICRC, 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 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.

Note to Editors: The Geneva Conventions, a set of rules established in 1949 that protects people around the world from the atrocities of war, have been ratified by all 196 States, making them universally binding.

For further information, please contact:
Ewan Watson, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 33 45 or + 41 79 244 64 70
Iolanda Jaquemet, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 27 29 or +41 79 217 32 87