Unoccupied: The Geneva Convention In Pictures

The original Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the 1967 Geneva Conventions for Refugees –– and their respective protocols –– are highly relevant in today’s world. But how many people know what they are and who is holding the world’s governments accountable for the promises they made for you and on your behalf? Unoccupied: The Geneva Convention In Pictures aims to illustrate these complex topics to share them more broadly with us. Shayne Smart, visual thinker and business strategist, presents his idea at the coming The Open Draw Nights in Amsterdam on Monday 19 October and hosts his own event and workshop on Saturday 7 November.

Why did you feel you had to organize this?

When news of the MH-17 Malaysia Airlines destruction was broadcast on the news, my family were in shock; we had flown the same flight path with the same airline only a week earlier. I was outraged that this happens in our modern societies and wanted to find a way I could make a difference to reduce crimes against human rights. Visual thinking and facilitating workshops is my expertise, so I decided to leverage those skills.

Why now?

For a year after the crash, I searched for Human rights law in pictures and found none, at the same time i started detailed reading and analysis of the Geneva Conventions to make sure it’s realistic and achievable to translate. The authors of the Geneva Conventions did a brilliant job of writing with clarity, so it can be done. With the anniversary of MH-17 crash just passed, it was a visceral reminder of the need to act on the idea now, before it is lost.

What do you hope to achieve?

For this year, create the Geneva Conventions ready for syndication and demonstrate the power of design for improving human rights. This should enable people to hold governments accountable to human rights laws, regardless of language or literacy abilities.In the long term, I hope we start a trend in simplification, transparency and understanding of law at any level of country, state or city. E.g. Am I allowed to film the police in my country? E.g. What are the bike laws in Amsterdam?

Our world owes much to drawing. The alphabet, celestial navigation, education, architecture, all children of the simple abstraction of a line and our infinite capacity for its interpretation. For an artist it is the most elementary of expressions. Once on paper, a stroke can never be undone. I discovered my love for the subtleties and versatility of the art form when I was campaigning for 1000 Drawings Amsterdam in 2011-2013. It has held me captive ever since. I am myself a novice and an enthusiast and I want to bring drawing professionals and people like me closer together, while promoting drawing to new audiences.

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