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Renovation of the famous "Broken Chair" in the Place des Nations


Geneva's famous "Broken Chair" in the Place des Nations was screened off on 17 May this year. Its renovation, now completed, was celebrated at a ceremony on 16 June attended by officials. An inescapable symbol of International Geneva, "Broken Chair" will be able to continue to worthily represent the fight in support of victims of explosive weapons throughout the world.

Part-financed by the BCGE

Created by the Geneva artist Daniel Berset, "Broken Chair" represents the key missions of Handicap International: the fight against explosive weapons and against the violence inflicted upon populations during armed conflicts. Installed on the place des Nations in 1997, the monument was initially planned to remain there for 3 months. It has been standing on the place des Nations for 19 years now and constitutes an integral part of the Genevan landscape.

Its organic material, wood, gives it a living dimension which evolves and changes over time, a human dimension evoking the vulnerabilities of the human being in the face of explosive weapons. Last renovated in 2010, a further facelift was needed.

Handicap International was able to embark on this enhancement work thanks to the support of four important sponsors: the Loterie Romande, the City of Geneva, the Banque Cantonale de Genève and Geneva Airport. The Geneva-based firm, Woodwin, was contracted to carry out the renovation. It started by micro-scrubbing then smoothing the structure before applying a product to nourish and protect the wood. The chair now bears a mahogany wood colour and a new commemorative plaque and will benefit from permanent night-lighting.

An official ceremony on the Place des Nations

For a whole month, "Broken Chair" was covered and screened off by sheeting displaying pictures of children, victims of explosive weapons throughout the world. Its renovation was celebrated on 16 June on the Place des Nations, an opportunity to share a special moment in the company of Handicap International, the local authorities, sponsors, donors, representatives of civil society and International Geneva.

Jean-Baptiste Richardier, co-founder of Handicap International, opened the festivities with a speech, followed by Micheline Calmy-Rey, patron of the event. François Longchamp, President of the State Council of the Republic and Canton of Geneva, Esther Alder, Administrative Councillor of the City of Geneva and Blaise Goetschin, Chief Executive Officer of the BCGE also spoke. The renowned violinist and ambassador of Handicap International, Rachel Kolly d'Alba , interpreted selections from her repertoire to provide musical interludes.

"Nowadays, the world is torn by conflicts of unprecedented violence with civilian populations as frontline victims. Explosive weapons are massively used in urban areas and result in numerous victims, 92% of them civilians!" said Petra Schroeter, director of Handicap International Switzerland. "Positioned in front of the United Nations, Broken Chair must continue to remind nations of their obligations to comply with international humanitarian law, to protect civilians against the use of these barbaric weapons and to provide assistance."

"Broken Chair is a powerful symbol, promoting the effective work conducted by Handicap International. For the year of its bicentenary, the BCGE is proud to have played its part in restoring this emblem of International Geneva. A Geneva which is diplomatic and humanitarian, to which our institution gives its support and its day-to-day financial advice," commented Blaise Goetschin, CEO of the BCGE.

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