It depicts a giant chair with a broken leg and stands across the street from the Palace of Nations, in Geneva. It symbolises opposition to land mines and cluster bombs, and acts as a reminder to politicians and others visiting Geneva.
Broken Chair is an original project of Paul Vermeulen, co-founder and director of Handicap International Suisse. In October 1996 he commissionned to the artist a monumental chair of over 10 meters high, with a torn leg, to be installed on the place des Nations. The objective was to get the largest possible number of States to sign the Ottawa Treaty on landmines in December 1997. The sculpture was erected by Handicap International in front of the main entrance to the Palais des Nations in Geneva on the 18th of August 1997, where it was intended to remain for three months, until the signing of the Ottawa Treaty in December 1997 in Ottawa. Following ratification by 40 countries, the Treaty became effective as an instrument of international law on 1 March 1999.
The failure of significant countries to sign the Treaty and the strong public support for the sculpture caused it to be left in place until 2005, when it was removed to allow extensive remodelling of the Palais des Nations. After completion of the work, it was reinstalled in the same place in front of the United Nations Office at Geneva on 26 February 2007.
The reinstallation of Broken Chair in February 2007 was officially dedicated by Handicap International to support the signature of an international treaty on a ban on Cluster Bombs (Convention on Cluster Munitions), which was signed in Oslo in December 2008.
The work was the property of the sculptor until 2004, when he transferred ownership to Handicap International.