The Broken Chair sculpture symbolizes both fragility and strength, imbalance and stability, violence, and dignity.
Broken Chair is the work of renowned sculptor Daniel Berset in 1997 at the request of Humanity & Inclusion (the new name of Handicap International).
Made of Douglas fir wood, it stands 39-feet tall at the Place des Nations, in front of the United Nations headquarters in Geneva. Broken Chair stands in delicate balance on three legs—the fourth having been violently blown off as if by an explosive charge.
Established—initially for a three-month period—the monumental sculpture's original message was simple: to call for a ban on antipersonnel landmines (the Mine Ban Treaty). Explore the history of the Broken Chair.
Landmines are explosive devices designed to injure or kill. They are placed under, on or near the ground, where they lie hidden for years or even decades until a person or an animal sets them off.
More than 80% of the world's countries are States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty
164 countries have signed on to the Mine Ban Treaty, which prohibits the use, stockpiling, production, and transfer of anti-personnel landmines. In 1997, the U.S. participated in the Ottawa process to ban landmines, but never adopted or signed it.
On January 31, the Trump Administration announced a roll-back of our its landmine policy, effectively allowing the U.S. to resume the use of antipersonnel landmines—a weapon the U.S. hasn't used in decades.
More than 90% of landmine victims are civilians. In 2018, landmines killed 3,059 and injured 3,837 people. 54% of civilian casualties were CHILDREN. With landmines impacting communities in more than 80 countries and territories, the danger is very real.
Help us tell President Trump to abandon his landmine policy. Sign our petition NOW.
Decades of campaigning to protect civilians
Humanity & Inclusion was created in 1982 in response to the horrific landmine injuries suffered by Cambodian refugees. Soon, we realized that action needed to be taken at an international level to ban these indiscriminate weapons. Over the years, Humanity & Inclusion has evolved into the world's most comprehensive mine action organization, working to prevent accidents through education and clearance, and to support the victims.
Making land safe for generations to come
Over the years, Humanity & Inclusion has evolved into the world's most comprehensive mine action organization, working to prevent accidents through education and clearance, and to support the victims.
Our donors make it possible to train and deploy teams of deminers to identify and clear conventional and improvised weapons from the paths of civilians. We work to educate the local population, especially children, how to spot, avoid, and report the weapons they find. Such lessons are especially vital to impart to people returning home after conflict-induced displacement.
History of the Broken Chair
It was on August 18, 1997 that Humanity & Inclusion (then Handicap International) established – initially for a three-month period – artist Daniel Berset’s monumental sculpture in the Place des Nations, calling on all States to sign, in December in Ottawa, a treaty to ban landmines.
Later, the Chair was used to encourage States to commit themselves to the prohibition of cluster munitions by signing the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Humanity & Inclusion is a founding member of the Cluster Munition Coalition, and we actively support the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which came into effect on August 1, 2010.
Broken Chair was a questioning though not choking evocation of these weapons’ many victims, and it would later embody the necessary vigilance of the citizens and civil society’s organizations, so that States deliver on the commitments they made.
Dismantled in 2005 for refurbishment of the Place des Nation, its return was subject to great uncertainty and vigorous debate. It was settled at the very last moment, thanks to the support of many personalities and an attachment to this internationally renowned artwork.
When Broken Chair returned in March 2007, Humanity & Inclusion decided to extend the symbolic force of the artwork, this time in support of the banning of cluster munitions, which were banned as well by the Oslo Treaty in December 2008.
In April 2016, Humanity & Inclusion decided to give the artwork’s presence more meaning. The Broken Chair now embodies:
- The desperate but dignified cry of the civilian populations injured by all kinds of armed violence, and the States’ obligation to protect them and rescue the victims;
- The fierce ambition—which must mobilize policy makers and citizens—to accompany the people, families and communities that are scarred, weakened or destabilized by conflicts, so that they can regain the autonomy to which they are entitled.
Its presence in the Place des Nations allows everyone to develop a personal reflection about their responsibility to refuse the unacceptable, and to act. It stands in delicate balance on three legs—the fourth having been violently blown off as if by an explosive charge. A way of showing that even mutilated, victims of war violence are still standing tall, with dignity.