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VIDEO: victory by any means exposed

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A hard hitting campaign from the International Committee of the Red Cross highlights why we still need the Geneva conventions in times of conflict

A one minute film showing the horror of unfettered war reveals how often countries are defying international humanitarian laws.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has launched the campaign to raise awareness of the Geneva conventions, which prohibit attacks on medical facilities, torture and the mistreatment of prisoners.

Every country in the world has signed up to the conventions, but the video features clips from conflicts around the world where armies and militia have defied them.

The film uses populist political rhetoric to take viewers on a journey from a utopian dream to humanitarian nightmare. It is the hardest-hitting ad of its kind from the ICRC.

Peter Maurer, president of the ICRC, said: “The bombing of hospitals, the massive displacement of civilians and the scourge of sexual violence in war have almost become commonplace. 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.”

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

The film was created in collaboration with global marketing and technology agency DigitasLBi and customer engagement agency Kitcatt Nohr. It was directed by Tom Green, who also shot the acclaimed Save the Children ad The Most Shocking Second a Day.

The film is being distributed via the global content platform UNILAD, with additional activity on Facebook and other social channels in key global territories including the US, Europe, Australia, South America and Africa.

Starting with an inspiring voiceover and stirring music, the film initially depicts a positive political vision for a stronger, safer nation. As it continues, the rhetoric becomes more extreme 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 human suffering – the consequence of a “victory by any means” approach to war.

Viewers of the film are invited to visit the website to learn more about the Geneva Conventions.