Invited Experts on Outreach Question

Cole Avatar Image Professor Alison Cole Adjunct Professor, Legal Officer New York University Law School, Open Society Justice Initiative

States Must Support the ICC’s Use of New Technology for Outreach

The ICC’s implementation of outreach could benefit from developments in new forms of technology. In order to assess the use of such new tools in designing effective outreach strategies, the ICC must first conduct mapping exercises to determine the level of access and technology infrastructure within a given community.


Outreach is a critical component of the work of the ICC. Claims to the contrary can be countered through an assessment of the mandate and purpose of international justice. Although the ICC has adopted a comprehensive definition of outreach, there are still aspects relating to the broader objectives of meaningful engagement which must be included in the Court’s approach. Additionally, the ICC’s implementation of outreach could benefit from developments in new forms of technology. In order to assess the use of such new tools in designing effective outreach strategies, the ICC must first conduct mapping exercises to determine the level of access and technology infrastructure within a given community. Addressing any security threats, including through new technology, is crucial to this initial assessment phase. In terms of technology tools which facilitate communication, the ICC has several options for building partnerships with technology partners, including on the provision of hardware and tools which facilitate connectivity. Finally, in terms of the substance of the engagement, the ICC can also maximize partnerships with actors currently generating content on the work of the Court. However, technology tools cannot replace the need for developing culturally sensitive and gender appropriate methodologies, and securing the funding from the Member States in order to ensure the ICC is co-developing strong outreach and public information strategies with the affected communities.


The premise that international courts ought to conduct outreach is disputed.1 Critics of the ICC, along with proponents of tight budgeting, have argued that the court should stick to its core activities: the running of in-court trials.2 Such claims are often supported by the view that international justice mechanisms are not charged with establishing the historical record of the events beyond the prosecution of those deemed most responsible, and thus there is no role for courts other than establishing the guilt of those senior leaders. Likewise, critics point to the limited role courts should have in reconciliation processes, which is a sensitive political process beyond the scope of a court’s legal expertise.3 Within this line of thinking, public information and outreach is perceived to be a mere public relations exercise which is inappropriate for a judicial entity which must concentrate its efforts on assessing facts and applying the law. Indeed, these criticisms may appear to have been borne out historically, since both the Ad Hoc Tribunals for Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia did not include public information as part of the official budget and instead outreach was funded by a small group of States on a voluntary basis.4

Assessments of past tribunals have demonstrated that without outreach, international justice takes place in a decontextualized vacuum which risks rendering the entire legal process pointless.

However, there are several ways in which the very foundations of international justice require robust outreach and public information processes. Firstly, assessments of past tribunals have demonstrated that without outreach, international justice takes place in a decontextualized vacuum which risks rendering the entire legal process pointless. An in-depth population-based survey of the communities in Rwanda demonstrated that the work of the Rwanda Tribunal was virtually unknown to the majority of the population in Rwanda.5 This limited the impact of the Tribunal’s work to those immediately involved in the cases litigated at the Tribunal (although the impact for witnesses was not always positive), and thereby created a general view that international justice was an expensive waste of time. A similar population-based survey was conducted in the Balkans, and found that the judgments of the Tribunal were exacerbating existing tensions, since each side viewed the Tribunal’s judgments as either vindicating or denying their experience of the conflict. The conclusion of this study identified that outreach was crucial in providing information about the cases and understanding about the justice processes, including how cases were selected and how judges determined guilt through convictions or acquittals. Such information provided citizens the opportunity to situate the legal process within the broader community healing process and reconciliation.

Although deterrence theory is a new area of analysis under international criminal law, it’s application within the context of the ICC is dependent on public information regarding the work of the Court.

This social science research is particularly helpful in identifying the importance of outreach in achieving several aspects of the ICC’s mandate, as set out in the Preamble to the Rome Statute. First, the Preamble to the Rome Statute links accountability with peace and security,6 which thereby recognizes the broader context within which the Court operates, and thus the need for the Court to interact with actors outside the court. This places an obligation on the Court to engage with the full range of constituents responsible for maintaining peace and security, including directly to citizens through outreach and public information. Secondly, the Preamble highlights the objective of the international community to prevent crime through the work of the ICC.7 Research relating to penal theory, particularly with respect to deterrence, emphasizes the importance of knowledge of the law as a key variable within the factors that lead to a deterrent effect.8 Although deterrence theory is a new area of analysis under international criminal law, it’s application within the context of the ICC is dependent on public information regarding the work of the Court.9 Finally, most of the core activities set out within the Rome Statue depend to a large extent on voluntary cooperation with outside actors. This is particularly the case for the ICC which, unlike the previous Ad Hoc Tribunals, includes components of the civil law system through the victim participation process.10 In order to ensure the Court receives due assistance from intermediaries11 or obtains cooperation from potential victim participants or witnesses, the Court must actualize its obligation of ensuring fully informed consent through providing appropriate public information and conducting outreach to ensure that the greatest number of possible actors have access to the Court. This increased knowledge of the Court and its methods of operation will have a positive impact on the ability for outside actors to interact with the Court and thereby enhance the ability of the Court to achieve its mandate. In other words, outreach is not only required within the terms of the Court’s objectives, but conducting outreach is also in the Court’s own best interests.

After establishing that the ICC is required to conduct outreach and public information, it is then necessary to determine what activities constitutes outreach, and in turn, what challenges exist to the implementation of outreach. Outreach does not have a strict technical definition and its meaning is not set out in the core legal documents of the Court. However, the ICC has publicized its own definitions through its public website and its official reports, including most recently in the Report of the Court on the Public Information Strategy 2011–2013.12 These definitions cover key components within civil society definitions, in particular the 2011 Outreach Report of the International Center for Transitional Justice (“ICTJ”).13 The ICC states that public information is the provision of accurate and timely information about to Court “to the public at large as well as to specific audiences, through a variety of means.”14 Outreach is defined by the ICC as a “sustainable, two-way communication” with communities affected by the situations that are within the area of the Court’s legal proceedings. The ICC specifically notes that outreach, aside from an engagement with outside communities, also seeks to “clarify misperceptions and misunderstandings and to enable affected communities to follow trials.”15

These definitions from the ICC are impressively comprehensive, including recognition for the need to ensure a dialogue as opposed to a one-directional approach to communication with information simply transmitted from the court. However, it is notable that definition adopted by the ICTJ places greater emphasis on building “direct channels of communication with affected communities”16 in order to ensure the Court is responsive to the unique challenges faced within each content. According to the ICTJ, outreach and public information programs should ensure that accountability processes are:

meaningful to the affected population, while providing the knowledge and tools necessary for the people to actively participate in the process. […] outreach programs should be to promote public engagement and ownership of the justice process, thereby contributing to building its legitimacy and lasting impact.17

Understood in this way, the ICC outreach work would therefore also need to extend beyond the trials in The Hague, but also should extend to assisting with the Court’s positive complementarity work, and additionally, ought to address questions regarding the legacy of the Court. Both these issues (positive complementarity and legacy) are yet to be addressed in a clear strategy by the Court and the Member States.

There are several emerging new tools, particularly those utilizing technology, which can assist the Court in overcoming challenges to outreach and facilitate the Court in achieving its mandate.

Within the parameters of these definitional issues, many concrete challenges can be identified. There are several emerging new tools, particularly those utilizing technology, which can assist the Court in overcoming challenges to outreach and facilitate the Court in achieving its mandate.

The most crucial challenge which ought to be addressed from the outset in any context is the question of security and protection. The ICC provides protection in only a limited range of circumstances, generally when individuals are put at risk as a result of their activities with the Court.18 However, in certain situations, even holding information about the Court (such as through attending outreach sessions or obtaining public information documents from the Court) can put a person at risk from targeted retaliation attacks by entities opposed to the Court’s operations. By conducting a thorough risk assessment in preparing a communications strategy in advance of entering a new situation, ICC staff can ascertain the means by which the Court can engage with people within a given country, and thereby identify the security risks associated with the means of communication and the means of engagement primarily utilized in that country.

There are several groups which provide security expertise and training, and keep abreast of technology developments and the new emerging challenges. For example, Security First covers protection issues responding to the full spectrum of threats faced by human rights defenders, from physical risks through to threats to confidentiality.19 Security First is currently compiling an interactive app called “Umbrella” which will allow a human rights defender to choose what they want to do, such as: conduct risk assessment; securely make a call/email; securely access the internet; encrypt data; plan secure travel; protect their office/home; plan counter-surveillance; measure insider threats; use a safe-house; or deal with kidnapping, arrest or evacuation.20 Tactical Tech21 also provides training materials on security and protection such as Security-in-a-Box,22 and Mobiles-in-a-Box for cell phone security.23 Another NGO called Mobile Active24 provides similar support through their SafeMobile project. Also for cell phones, Amnesty International has devised a tool called the “Panic Button” which will alert an emergency contact should the button be activated on the device in the case of a threat.25 The ICC could collaborate with such experts in security and protection in order to devise robust communication strategies that are safety-orientated.

The extent to which technology is utilized within a given ICC situation country is critical in devising an outreach and public information strategy which will maximize the opportunity for a meaningful engagement. Technology is often critical to the establishment of contact and enabling dialogue. International courts and tribunals typically rely upon intermediary organizations such as survivor networks and local human rights groups in order to initiate communication and conduct outreach. However, in order to best design innovative and meaningful outreach strategies, the ICC must build strategies which are reflective of the technology infrastructure within a given country and region. This requires the ICC to conduct a mapping of the technology infrastructure and use. There are several organizations which are active in mapping global communication infrastructure, for example, the Engine Room is developing a project called TechScape to provide empirical data on technology use.26 The World Bank27 and internet services providers also typically conduct reviews of market access.

Depending on the access to mobile technology, the ICC could utilize tools which target either Smartphone platforms or non-Smartphone platforms.

For example, access to cell phones is increasing rapidly, with access growing at 366% in East Africa in the last five years and 260% in Central Africa.28 However the Court must be sure to assess each country individually, since access varies dramatically per country—for example, 85% of the population in Cote d’Ivoire have access to cell phones whereas 17% have access in the Central African Republic.29 Access is also dominated by gender and other societal dynamics, with women overall 23% less likely than men to own a mobile phone within the Africa region.30 Depending on the access to mobile technology, the ICC could utilize tools which target either Smartphone platforms or non-Smartphone platforms. For example, Frontline SMS utilizes SMS text messages to connect phones around content-sharing and interacting through group messages and receiving feedback.31 This tool is open source and can be customized according to the requirements of the context. Another group, People’s Intelligence, utilizes a similar interactive SMS-text phone format to collect information regarding human rights abuses.32 For Smartphone users, there are additional sources which could be of assistance in developing engagement platforms with the ICC, such as Obscuracam developed by WITNESS and The Guardian Project, which allows people to record video whilst pixilating the faces of respondents who wish to remain anonymous.33 Several key computer research centers have capacity to address communication challenges and the ICC could engaged with institutions such as Carnegie Mellon University to identify potential technology solutions to outreach and public information challenges.34 Over 2015, the Open Society Justice Initiative will be working with partners to coalesce these emerging tools into a set of guidelines to assist NGOs in interacting with the ICC. Although the focus will be around the collection of potential information for the cases, the means of interaction will also be of potential use for public information and outreach activities.

In instances of limited technology infrastructure, there are several hardware based developments which the ICC could consider in order to facilitate access to its constituency.

In instances of limited technology infrastructure, there are several hardware based developments which the ICC could consider in order to facilitate access to its constituency. For example, the Nairobi-based technology center i-Hub35 has fostered innovate solutions to its technology needs, including a device known as “BRCK” (pronounced “brick”) which enables internet access without electricity.36 It is a Wi-Fi router and mobile modem in one, which can be connected to the internet by Ethernet and will also switch to a 3G or 4G connection if the power cuts out. It can support up to 20 wireless connections and can work as a network drive through its 16 gigabytes of storage. Another group working in hardware development, Videre, specializes in developing technology which incorporates security mechanisms and enables encrypted, covert communication.37 Aside from advancing communication methods, the ICC may also consider radio hardware options in settings where information is disseminated largely through broadcasting channels. For example, Partners in Technology International installs high frequency radio systems, radio email, and satellite phones in remote areas,38 and Telecoms Sans Frontier conducts similar work to increase connections with information dissemination.39

Finally, there a technology-based tools which can assist the ICC in addressing the challenge of content creation. The ICC already does fantastic work emailing weekly updates and YouTube clips of in-court sessions.40 Several web-based partners also conduct daily in-court monitoring designed to assist journalist and lawyers access specialized knowledge on ICC developments, such as,41 ICC Forum,42 and justicehub from Radio Netherlands Worldwide.43 However, the ICC website could provide greater access to filings such as the searchable databases developed by the SCSL,44 ECCC,45 ICTR46 and ICTY.47 There are several technology groups specializing in the development of such databases such as Benetech,48 Huridocs,49 and the Human Rights Data Analysis Group.50

Perhaps the biggest challenge facing the outreach and public information program is designing communication strategies jointly with communities, and yet finding means to ensure balanced representation of voices. The ICC must strive to ensure their communications are gender-balanced, culturally sensitive, and empowering for voices which may typically denied space within their own community. This challenge has faced cross-cultural disciplines for decades, the social sciences have developed complicated participatory modes and the ICC could learn a lot from more creative means of creating dialogue.51 Unfortunately, there is no snazzy technology fix for designing such sensitive processes. And even more unfortunately, all components set out in this discussion depend entirely upon the financing provided by the Member States.

Endnotes — (click the footnote reference number, or ↩ symbol, to return to location in text).

  1. 1.

    Sara Darehshori, Lessons for Outreach from the Ad Hoc Tribunals, The Special Court for Sierra Leone, and the International Criminal Court, 14 New Eng. J. Int’l & Comp. L. 299 (Dec. 3, 2008), available online, archived.

  2. 2.


  3. 3.

    Rebecca Devitt, Justice and Peace: The Role of International Tribunals in International Justice, E-Int’l Rel. (Jan. 24, 2012), available online.

  4. 4.

    Support and Donations, International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, available online (last visited Feb. 12, 2015).

  5. 5.

    Eric Stover & Harvey M. Weinstein, My Neighbor, My Enemy: Justice and Community in the Aftermath of Mass Atrocity (Cambridge University Press 2004).

  6. 6.

    Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Adopted by the United Nations Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court, Jul. 17 1998, UN Doc. A/CONF.183/9 [hereinafter Rome Statute].

  7. 7.


  8. 8.

    Discussion of Recent Deterrence Studies, Death Penalty Information Center, available online (last visited Feb. 12, 2015).

  9. 9.

    Mark Kersten, The International Criminal Court and Deterrence: The ‘Lubanga Syndrome’, Justice in Conflict (Apr. 6, 2012), available online.

  10. 10.

    David Tolbert, Taking Stock of the Impact of the Rome Statute and the International Criminal Court on Victims and Affected Communities, Int’l Crim. Ct., available online (last visited Feb. 12, 2015).

  11. 11.

    Intermediaries and the International Criminal Court: A Role for the Assembly of States Parties, Coalition for the International Criminal Court, Open Society Justice Initiative, available online (last visited Feb. 12, 2015).

  12. 12.

    Report of the Court on the public information strategy 2011–2013, ICC-ASP/9/29 (Nov. 22, 2010) at 6, available online [hereinafter Strategy 2011–2013].

  13. 13.

    Clara Ramírez-Barat, ICTJ, Making an Impact: Guidelines on Designing and Implementing Outreach Programs for Transitional Justice (Jan. 2011) available online.

  14. 14.

    Outreach, Int’l Crim. Ct., available online, archived (last visited Feb. 12, 2015).

  15. 15.

    Strategy 2011–2013, supra note 12.

  16. 16.

    Ramírez-Barat, supra note 13, at 3 (emphasis in original).

  17. 17.

    Id. at 7 (emphasis added).

  18. 18.

    Markus Eikel, Witness Protection Measures at the International Criminal Court: Legal Framework and Emerging Practice, 23 Crim. L. Forum 97 (2012) available online.

  19. 19.

    Security First, available online (last visited Feb. 12, 2015).

  20. 20.

    Umbrella, Security First, available online (last visited Feb. 12, 2015).

  21. 21.

    About Us, Tactical Technology Collective, available online (last visited Fed. 12, 2015).

  22. 22.

    Security In-A-Box, Tactical Technology Collective, available online (last visited Feb. 12, 2015).

  23. 23.

    Mobiles In-A-Box, Tactical Technology Collective, available online (last visited Feb. 12, 2015).

  24. 24.

    Mobile Active Defense, available online (last visited Feb. 12, 2015).

  25. 25.

    Amnesty International Launches New App to Fight Attack, Kidnap and Torture, Amnesty Int’l (Jun. 23, 2014), available online.

  26. 26.

    TechScape, The Engine Room, available online (last visited Feb. 12, 2015).

  27. 27.

    Internet Users (per 100 people), The World Bank, available online (last visited Feb. 16, 2015).

  28. 28.

    Peter Lyons et al., GSMA, Sub-Saharan Africa Mobile Observatory 2012 (2012), available online.

  29. 29.


  30. 30.

    Women & Mobile: A Global Opportunity, GSMA (2013) available online.

  31. 31.

    Frontline, available online (last visited Feb. 12, 2015).

  32. 32.

    People’s Intelligence, available online (last visited Feb. 12, 2015).

  33. 33.

    Obscuracam: Secure Smart Camera, The Guardian Project, available online (last visited Feb. 12, 2015).

  34. 34.

    Center for Human Rights Science, Carnegie Mellon University, available online (last visited Feb. 13, 2015).

  35. 35.

    iHub, available online (last visited Feb. 12, 2015).

  36. 36.

    BRCK, available online (last visited Feb. 12, 2015).

  37. 37.

    Videre, available online (last visited Feb. 12, 2015).

  38. 38.

    Partners in Technology, available online (last visited Feb. 12, 2015).

  39. 39.

    Télécoms Sans Frontières, available online (last visited Feb. 12, 2015).

  40. 40.

    International Criminal Court, YouTube, available online (last visited Feb. 16, 2015).

  41. 41.

    International Justice Monitor, available online (last visited Feb. 12, 2015).

  42. 42.

    ICC Forum, available online (last visited Feb. 12, 2015).

  43. 43.

    Radio Netherlands Worldwide, available online (last visited Feb. 12, 2015).

  44. 44.

    The Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone, available online (last visited Feb. 12, 2015).

  45. 45.

    Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts Of Cambodia, available online (last visited Feb. 12, 2015).

  46. 46.

    International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, available online (last visited Feb. 12, 2015).

  47. 47.

    International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, available online (last visited Feb. 12, 2015).

  48. 48.

    Benetech, available online (last visited Feb. 12, 2015).

  49. 49.

    HURIDOCS, available online (last visited Feb. 12, 2015).

  50. 50.

    Human Rights Data Analysis Group, available online (last visited Feb. 12, 2015).

  51. 51.

    Participatory Rural Assessment, Village Volunteers (Jul. 9, 2011) available online.

  52. Suggested Citation for this Comment:

    Alison Cole, States Must Support the ICC’s Use of New Technology for Outreach, ICC Forum (Feb. 17, 2015), available at

    Suggested Citation for this Issue Generally:

    How can the ICC Improve its Outreach Efforts?, ICC Forum (Feb. 17, 2015), available at

Ramirez Avatar Image Francisco O. Ramirez, Ph.D. Professor of Education Stanford University, Graduate School of Education

To garner long-term and strong support for the International Criminal Court, its mandate and work must be communicated through a human rights education frame. The latter requires the engagement of civil society actors partnering with state parties via formal schooling and informal education designed to emphasize the empowered rights bearing person.

Given the worldwide legitimacy of education, linking human rights endeavors to teaching and learning human rights is pragmatically compelling. … The same educational re-framing could cast the role of the International Criminal Court as upholder of international human rights norms and a last resort to make all individuals accountable for their behaviors in this domain.


The International Criminal Court represents a core institution within the global human rights regime. Since World War II, this regime has entailed an increase in human rights treaties, organizations, conferences, and discourse. In addition, there has been a rise in human rights education organizations, conferences, and publications. Established human rights advocacy groups such as Amnesty International have shifted from a mostly legal lens to a broader educational emphasis. This global human rights activity culminated in two United Nations decades of human rights education and even the articulation of the right to a human rights education. Given the worldwide legitimacy of education, linking human rights endeavors to teaching and learning human rights is pragmatically compelling. In practice, many an established citizenship right has been re-framed as a human right; civic education morphs into human rights education. The same educational re-framing could cast the role of the International Criminal Court as upholder of international human rights norms and a last resort to make all individuals accountable for their behaviors in this domain.

Such a re-framing raises questions about state sovereignty. Yet it is precisely the educational path that allows one to reflect on both the historical rise of national states and the emergence of a more inclusive national citizenship and the contemporary and expanded focus on personhood and human rights. The horrors of World War II, often associated with excessive nationalism, paved the way for this contemporary expanded focus. Further skepticism regarding such a re-framing might come from those who question the efficacy of human rights norms in general and the International Criminal Court in particular. My own research suggests, however, that some human rights developments are consequential.


The International Criminal Court (ICC) is a legal institution that affirms the rights of individual persons and imposes obligations on other individuals, including state actors, to respect these rights or face prosecution. In my opinion, few Americans outside of legal circles know about the ICC. The few that do may think of it as a failed institution1 and perhaps even know that its development was contested by the United States State Department. If one reflects more seriously on the international human rights regime, one would have to acknowledge that despite its roots in the fundamental freedoms celebrated in the Atlantic Charter, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union had serious reservations about human rights.2 These reservations reflected different national vulnerabilities, such as race, the colonies, and a single party state. They also indicated a concern over infringements of national state sovereignty.

While the major powers hesitated, other and often newly emergent countries took up the human rights cause. Once the human rights genie was removed from the Westphalian bottle, it acquired a life of its own. To be sure, national sovereignty is affirmed in the United Nations Charter, especially in Article 51, Section 1. However, in the post World War II era, national independence movements evoked human rights, as would the civil rights, women’s rights, and other social movements throughout the world.

A cross-national analysis of over three hundred social studies textbooks from sixty countries, for instance, finds a dramatic rise in the use of the phrase ‘human rights’ between 1975 and 2008.

Today, the global landscape is dotted with international and national human rights organizations.3 More recently, human rights education organizations and conferences have emerged and proliferated.4 It is clear that the earlier and more specific legal lens has broadened to include an educational emphasis. A cross-national analysis of over three hundred social studies textbooks from sixty countries, for instance, finds a dramatic rise in the use of the phrase ‘human rights’ between 1975 and 2008.5 The human rights emphasis especially grows in the post 1995 period and is much more likely to be found in textbooks with a more student centric pedagogical format. The latter is globally on the rise and often celebrated as the route to critical thinking as opposed to rote memory. Women’s and children’s rights are re-framed as human rights and communicated as such to young people throughout the world.

These educational developments are consistent with global political changes. The proportion of countries that have ratified the Convention to Eliminate all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) has sharply increased,6 as has the proportion of countries with a human rights commission.7 For both of these outcomes, the increases seem to be triggered by international conferences that highlight human rights issues. These conferences directly (in site) or indirectly (anticipatory socialization) generate what some researchers call a normative cascade or bandwagon.8 They constitute part of a wider world culture in which nation-states are expected to affirm support for human rights. Those that do not actually ratify the treaties claim that their constitutional frameworks already embody human rights principles (the United States’ argument). Those that express broad reservations regarding the treaties they ratify risk being “called out” (consider, for instance, Denmark’s remarks toward Saudi Arabia regarding CEDAW ratification).

All these developments suggest a secular trend in the direction of de-emphasizing some aspects of state sovereignty in favor of a worldwide consensus regarding human rights. Textbooks do not problematize human rights as undercutting state authority. Quite the contrary: the implicit message is that the good nation-state is one committed to human rights. Of course, it is naïve to assume that ratification leads to improved human rights practices. Indeed, it is repeatedly argued that ratification is often nothing more than window dressing, a form of organized hypocrisy that actually conceals human rights violations.

Non-Western countries can invoke their cultures to justify limitations on the freedom of assembly or speech, but the right to torture is not one that generates justifications on the grounds of cultural relativism.

However, a more nuanced understanding of the impact of human rights commissions is in order. Cole and Ramirez (2013) find that human rights commissions lower the level of human rights abuses, but only as regards physical integrity outcomes instead of civil and political rights matters. Moreover, the impact takes place over time. The short-term effect of having a commission is to empower victims and their advocates and that results in increased reporting of abuses. The longer-term effect though is a favorable one. These findings suggest that where there is greater global normative consensus, such as in the case of physical integrity, having human rights commissions in place is a sound strategy.9

Despite opposition from the United States and other powerful countries, membership in the International Criminal Court has increased, from Senegal in 1999 to the current 122 countries that are now state parties to the Rome Statute. To be sure, its operations require support from the Security Council, which in turn depends on the support of state party members. There is much skepticism regarding its actual or even potential efficacy. There is less social science research focused on the ICC than on human rights treaties or organizations.10 However, it is important to bear in mind that physical integrity issues are at the core of the mandate of the ICC and, as noted above, there is more global consensus regarding physical integrity than as regards other rights. Non-Western countries can invoke their cultures to justify limitations on the freedom of assembly or speech, but the right to torture is not one that generates justifications on the grounds of cultural relativism. This greater normative consensus explains why so much of the energy of Amnesty International and other human rights advocacy groups focuses on physical integrity issues.

As our vision of citizenship traverses national boundaries, we need education that emphasizes the virtues and rights of personhood and the need to foster and defend these human rights.

In the short run, the survival and efficacy of the ICC will depend in good part on its state members. This is also true of human rights in general. Yet in the long run education matters. The good citizen was the product of an educational system that fostered good citizenship. As our vision of citizenship traverses national boundaries, we need education that emphasizes the virtues and rights of personhood and the need to foster and defend these human rights. The increased emphasis on human rights in textbooks, including the diffusion of the Holocaust as a human rights disaster,11 is a promising beginning. The spread of human rights education from law schools to other parts of the university is also a step in the right direction.12

In the long run, support for the Court will require that the youth of today know more about its mandate and the obstacles it faces. In my opinion, this requires more clearly situating the ICC within the global human rights regime and more directly pursuing the human rights education path. In practice, this educational strategy means more conferences, more organizations, and more discourse that disseminate the work of the International Criminal Court to more youthful audiences. It means engaging civil society actors and expanding the network of stakeholders beyond state authorities. In this endeavor, building on the work of human rights educators is paramount.

Endnotes — (click the footnote reference number, or ↩ symbol, to return to location in text).

  1. 1.

    First Kenya, now Sudan: The International Criminal Court takes another bad knock, The Economist, Dec. 20, 2014, available online.

  2. 2.

    Paul Gordon Lauren, The Evolution of International Human Rights (2003).

  3. 3.

    Francisco O. Ramirez, David Suárez & John W. Meyer, The Worldwide Rise of Human Rights Education, in School Knowledge in Comparative and Historical Perspective: Changing Curricula in Primary and Secondary Education 35–54, (Aaron Benavot & Cecilia Braslavsky, eds., Comparative Education Research Centre 2006), available SpringerLink paywall.

  4. 4.

    Francisco O. Ramirez & Rennie Moon, From Citizenship to Human Rights to Human Rights Education, in Making Human Rights Intelligible 191–214 (Mikael Rask Madsen & Gert Verschraegen, eds., Oxford: Hart Pub. 2013).

  5. 5.

    John W. Meyer, Patricia Bromley & Francisco O. Ramirez, Human Rights in Social Science Textbooks: Cross-national Analyses, 1975–2008, 83(2) SOE 111–134 (2010).

  6. 6.

    Christine Min Wotipka & Francisco O. Ramirez, World Society and Human Rights: An Event History Analysis of the Ratification of the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in The Global Diffusion of Markets and Democracy 303–343 (Beth A. Simmons, Frank Dobbin & Geoffrey Garrett, eds., Cambridge University Press 2008).

  7. 7.

    Jeong Woo Koo & Francisco O. Ramirez, National Incorporation of Global Human Rights: Worldwide Expansion of National Human Rights Organizations, 1966–2004, 87(3) Social Forces 1321–1354 (2009).

  8. 8.

    Martha Finnemore & Kathryn Sikkink, International Norm Dynamics and Political Change, 52(4) International Organization 887–917 (1998).

  9. 9.

    Wade Cole & Francisco O. Ramirez, Conditional Decoupling: Assessing the Impact of National Human Rights Institutions, 78(4) American Sociological Review 702–725 (2013).

  10. 10.

    But see Beth Simmons & Allison Danner, Credible Commitments and the International Criminal Court, 64(2) Int’l Org., 225–256 (2010). Also see Jay Goodliffe & Darren Hawkins, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Rome: Explaining International Criminal Court Negotiations, 71(3) The Journal of Politics 977–997 (2009).

  11. 11.

    Patricia Bromley & Susan Garnett Russell, Holocaust as History and Human Rights: Holocaust Education in Social Science Textbooks, 1970–2008, 40(1) Prospects: UNESCO’s Quarterly Review of Comparative Education 153–173 (2010).

  12. 12.

    David Suárez & Patricia Bromley, Institutionalizing a Global Social Movement: Human Rights as University Knowledge, 118(3) Am. J. of Ed. 253–280 (2012).

  13. Suggested Citation for this Comment:

    Francisco O. Ramirez, To Garner Long-term and Strong Support for the International Criminal Court, its Mandate and Work Must be Communicated Through a Human Rights Education Frame, ICC Forum (Feb. 17, 2015), available at

    Suggested Citation for this Issue Generally:

    How can the ICC Improve its Outreach Efforts?, ICC Forum (Feb. 17, 2015), available at

Vinck Avatar Image Patrick Vinck, Ph.D. Director, Program on Vulnerable Populations Harvard Humanitarian Initiative

Pham Avatar Image Phuong N. Pham, Ph.D. Research Scientist Harvard School of Public Health

The content, strategies and methods of outreach and public information must be based on evidence, localizing outreach and responding to the needs and expectations of heterogeneous communities affected by mass violence. The evidence must also define realistic outreach goals.

There are no doubts that public information and outreach strategies are critical for the ICC’s operation, legitimacy, and public impact. How to do outreach effectively, however, remains a major challenge. Too often, outreach is done with a limited understanding of the context in which engagement with affected communities must take place.


There are no doubts that public information and outreach strategies are critical for the ICC’s operation, legitimacy, and public impact. How to do outreach effectively, however, remains a major challenge. Too often, outreach is done with a limited understanding of the context in which engagement with affected communities must take place. Our research shows that outreach strategies must define and understand its target audience, especially key subgroups relevant to the work of the court. These groups may have different, even competing information and communication needs. Outreach to these various groups must be targeted using tailored content that is culturally appropriate and address prevailing questions. Similarly, the means of engagement of the public must reflect media and information consumption habits of each group. New technologies offer unprecedented, reliable and cost-effective abilities to engage with large number of people in a near real time way, but may not be appropriate for all groups. Rapid polling and survey methods offer somewhat more traditional ways to consult less connected people. Even when outreach strategies are informed by population-based evidence, outreach remains challenging and affected by the pace of proceedings at the Court. Maintaining interest and relevance is a key challenge. Finally, the expectations that outreach should have a widespread effect on knowledge and attitudes about the court are often unrealistic. Rather, evidence on education, literacy level, information sources and consumption among other should help define realistic goals against which progress can be measured.


Without some level of knowledge about the Court, victims may be unable to come forward and participate in proceedings, and may be unsupportive of justice efforts they do not understand. Broader, and arguably less realistic, goals of societal change associated with the ICC, such as the promotion of the rule of law, accountability, and peace and reconciliation, also require, at a minimum, some level of understanding of the work of the Court.

The idea that the ICC’s operation, legitimacy, and public impact depend on how much communities affected by violence understand the Court is widely accepted. Without some level of knowledge about the Court, victims may be unable to come forward and participate in proceedings, and may be unsupportive of justice efforts they do not understand.1 Broader, and arguably less realistic, goals of societal change associated with the ICC, such as the promotion of the rule of law, accountability, and peace and reconciliation, also require, at a minimum, some level of understanding of the work of the Court.2 A lack of understanding of the work of the Court, on the other hand, may result in the spread of misconception and rumors, enabling the politicization of the Court and undermining justice efforts.

It is not until the late 1990’s that the importance of communicating with affected communities was recognized as a central role of tribunals. Lessons from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) showed that the failure to adequately engage with the population had undermined the legitimacy and legacy of both tribunals.3 Since then, international and hybrid tribunals set up to judge serious crimes around the World have all undertaken public information programs, developing an understanding of outreach as a two-way communication effort to build a bridge between affected communities and Courts.

Despite the growing experience of reaching out to communities affected by violence to engage in a dialogue around the ICC, practitioners’ understanding of how to do this most effectively remains arguably quite poor. Outreach strategies are primarily rooted in assumption about how to best communicate with affected populations, with the occasional interest in adopting innovative approaches and technologies. Lacking is a detailed understanding of the context within which outreach must take place. Outreach evaluation—the process of gathering data about information consumption patterns, target groups, and about knowledge, attitudes and practice relating to the ICC—can be done fairly rapidly and effectively using mixed methods that combine the collection of qualitative and quantitative data to inform the design and assess the effectiveness of outreach efforts. Outreach evaluation has in fact been used by the ICC outreach unit to inform its strategies and evaluate its impact. These efforts, however, are limited by the lack of funding for outreach in general, and more specifically for the gathering of data that should guide outreach efforts.

Our team has integrated aspects of outreach evaluation in broader efforts looking at the role of transitional justice, and specifically the ICC, in reconstruction and peacebuilding after mass violence. The methods we have developed over the last ten years enable the rapid collection of large number of survey interviews conducted among representative samples of adults in affected communities, combined with key informant interviews and focus groups. Successive research in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (one of eight ‘situations’ where the ICC intervenes) conducted in 2008 and 2013 show for example that awareness about the existence of the ICC in, rose from 28% to 54% of the adult population.4

Outreach strategies are primarily rooted in assumption about how to best communicate with affected populations [...] Lacking is a detailed understanding of the context within which outreach must take place.

This is a remarkable achievement considering the logistical and technical challenges of operating in the region, and the overall weakness of information systems. Much of this accomplishment is due to expanded coverage by the media, as well as a combination of outreach activities by local NGOs and the ICC outreach unit. However, knowledge and understanding of Court proceedings remains low—In 2013, just 9 percent of the respondents described their knowledge of the ICC as good or very good. Furthermore awareness data hide important inequalities. Awareness about the Court was significantly lower among adult women (33% had heard of the court) compared to men (75% had heard of the Court). When they did hear about the court, women were twice more likely than men to have relied on informal sources of information, such as family and friends, rather than the media. Similar inequalities have been documented in other situations where the ICC intervenes, such as the Central African Republic.5 Unsurprisingly, poor, rural, uneducated women tend to have lower awareness and knowledge of the Court. They also tend to rely more than any other group on informal information sources rather than the media, which opens them to misinformation.

These surveys are not sufficient to fully measure the effect of outreach, but they have the potential to inform the content, strategies and methods of outreach and public information. Specifically our research suggests that for outreach strategies to be successful, they must build on five:

  1. First, outreach must define and understand their target audience. Outreach and public information are public programs and as such their audience is wide and diverse. It is also highly heterogeneous and may include groups with very different information and communication needs. These groups may be defined along socio-economic characteristics including gender and age groups, livelihoods (e.g. journalists), as well as experience and patterns of exposure to the conflict (e.g. outreach to specific groups of victims). These groups may differ, for example, in how they access information, or in the type of questions and issues that they have regarding the involvement of the ICC in their community. Our studies show that trauma and patterns of exposure to violence, including direct exposure, exposure as a witness, and experience of coercion, strongly affect perception and attitudes about the Court
  2. Second, outreach must deliver targeted outreach content based on the characteristics and information and communication needs of the target groups. There are important differences in the type of questions raised by the public regarding the involvement of the ICC across situations. Affected communities in northern Uganda may be focused on the impact of the ICC on peace processes, while affected communities in eastern DRC may be more focused on specific on-going trials. Even within a given situation, the widely different levels of knowledge and perception about the Court among various groups need to be taken into account in the outreach strategy. This is especially critical in situations where outreach must be sensitive to pre-existing structural inequalities and divides that exist along socio-economic lines, including ethnicity. In Ituri, eastern DRC, for example, our research found that perception of the Court differed across ethnic groups, reflecting a perceived bias on who was treated as victim and who was treated as a perpetrator of mass violence.
  3. Third, the means of delivery must be culturally appropriate and mindful of the information consumption patterns of the target groups. Public meetings focused on leaders and key stakeholders, as well as radio messages are very common, relying on the assumption that stakeholders will act as relays of information for the former, and that radio are near ubiquitous for the latter. These assumptions, however, remain largely unproven and data from surveys point to important differences. In a survey of five prefectures in the Central African Republic, we found that just 48% of the women listened to the radio at least occasionally, compared to 70% of the men. Just 30% of the adults with no formal education listened to the radio at least occasionally, compared to over 77% among adults with at least some secondary education. Poverty was also an important factor, with just 14% of the adults in the poorest group listening to the radio at least occasionally compared to 96% among the richest quintile. In a different setting, a survey in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire showed that 69% of the population watched the television at least occasionally, making it a relevant media for outreach.6

    The means of delivery is critical, especially as the rapid growth of mobile connectivity (including mobile internet connectivity) offers unprecedented abilities to engage in two-way communication with affected communities, sometimes in near real-time. Data streams, such as online posts on social media can further be used for mood analysis, helping measure perception of the ICC. Other forms of engagement in social media are also rising (the ICC has a YouTube channel), but generally, outreach has been slow at adopting new technologies. This partly reflects situations in the field, but a clear analysis of the most effective way to reach various outreach target groups is generally missing.
  4. Fourth, outreach must be both timely and continuous. One challenge for outreach is that ICC proceedings can be lengthy. Maintaining the interest of the affected communities is important but challenging in this context: In eastern DRC, despite ongoing trials and condemnation, about half the population felt the ICC had had no impact on peace (52%) or justice (51%). The rest were somewhat evenly divided between those advancing positive and negative impacts. In Uganda, the absence of any proceedings (until the recent arrest of Dominic Ongwen) meant that the ICC had slowly become less relevant to the people, undermining their support for the Court.
  5. Finally, fifth, results of outreach must be measured against realistic expectations. Ideally, outreach should contribute to a universal knowledge and understanding of the Court among affected communities in situations where the Court intervenes. In practice, however, it is an impossible goal to achieve, especially in contexts where literacy may be low, information networks are lacking, and the population may have little exposure and experience with formal justice systems. In other words, is it realistic to expect the population to know more about the ICC than they do about their own justice system? A related issue is that benchmarks are arbitrary. In eastern DRC, 52% of the adults have heard of the ICC (2013). In the Central African Republic, it is 32%, compared to 94% in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. But arguably, reaching an awareness level of 32% in CAR is more complex than reaching nearly 100% in Abidjan. Outreach goals must therefore be carefully identified, taking into account a range of variables that include education level, communication infrastructure, etc.

Together, these five points call for a localized, or contextualized, approach to outreach that builds on evidence of the differences in opinions prevailing within affected communities, as well as differences in information and communication needs and in access to information and technology. The methods we have developed offer low cost opportunity to gather such data. Other advances in technology may help further build extensive, reliable, and low cost two-way communication mechanisms between the Court and the individuals served by the Court. However, the means of communication and content of outreach should be carefully designed to serve even the least connected.

Endnotes — (click the footnote reference number, or ↩ symbol, to return to location in text).

  1. 1.

    Patrick Vinck & Phuong N. Pham, Outreach Evaluation: The International Criminal Court in the Central African Republic, 4(3) IJTJ 421–442 (Nov. 13, 2010), Oxford Journals paywall, EBSCO Host paywall.

  2. 2.

    Pierre Hazan, Measuring the Impact of Punishment and Forgiveness: A Framework for Evaluating Transitional Justice, 88(861) Int’l Rev. of the Red Cross 19 (Mar. 2006), available online.

  3. 3.

    Janine N. Clark, International War Crimes Tribunals and the Challenge of Outreach, 9(1) Int’l Crim. L. Rev. 99–116 (Mar. 2009), available Brill paywall; Varda Hussain, Sustaining Judicial Rescues: The Role of Outreach and Capacity-Building Efforts In War Crimes Tribunals, 45(2) Va. J. Int’l L. 547–585 (2005), Lexis/Nexis paywall; Kingsley C. Moghalu, Image and Reality of War Crimes Justice: External Perceptions of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, 26(2) Fletcher Forum World Aff. 21–46 (2002), available online; Victor Peskin, Courting Rwanda: The Promises and Pitfalls of the ICTR Outreach Programme, 3(4) J. Int’l Crim. Just. 950–961 (2005), available online, archived.

  4. 4.

    Patrick Vinck & Phuong N. Pham, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative & United Nations Development Programme, Searching for Lasting Peace: Population-Based Survey on Perceptions and Attitudes about Peace, Security and Justice in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, (Sep. 2014), available online, archived.

  5. 5.

    Patrick Vinck & Phuong N. Pham, Human Rights Center, Building Peace, Seeking Justice: A Population-based Survey on Attitudes About Accountability and Social Reconstruction in the Central African Republic (Aug. 2010), available online, archived.

  6. 6.

    Phuong N. Pham & Patrick Vinck, Fragile Peace, Elusive Justice: Population-Based Survey on Perceptions and Attitudes about Security and Justice in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (Sep. 2014), available online, archived.

  7. Suggested Citation for this Comment:

    Patrick Vinck & Phuong N. Pham, The Content, Strategies and Methods of Outreach and Public Information Must be Based on Evidence, Localizing Outreach and Responding to the Needs and Expectations of Heterogeneous Communities Affected by Mass Violence, ICC Forum (Feb. 17, 2015), available at

    Suggested Citation for this Issue Generally:

    How can the ICC Improve its Outreach Efforts?, ICC Forum (Feb. 17, 2015), available at

Werby Avatar Image Christopher Werby, J.D. Principal Pipsqueak Productions, LLC

Olga Werby Avatar Image Olga Werby, Ed.D. Principal Pipsqueak Productions, LLC

Practical Strategies for ICC Outreach

Does it really make sense to send representatives to remote rural regions of the world to try to bring news in-person of the ICC’s activities? Given a limited budget and resources, any outreach effort needs to make choices: who to reach, how to reach them, and what to say. As a young institution telling its story to the world, what are the right choices?


I. Introduction

On a gray day in March, an ICC field officer and his associate leave their temporary office in Goma1 driving in a 4×4. In the back, they carry a portable generator. Stowed behind the driver’s seat are a computer and a projector, carefully wrapped in blankets to cushion them for the long bumpy trip.

Soon after they leave town, the DRC’s countryside looks like jungle. They travel for seven hours, on dirt roads that get more rutted and dangerous the further they go. Every so often the road disappears beneath a muddy stream. Then they slow to a crawl and inch through the sometimes-deep water, urging their trusty vehicle not to stall.2 They stop and submit at checkpoints where men carry machine guns. Sometimes the men are government soldiers and sometimes they are not. Finally, they reach their destination: a small village previously ravaged by conflict.3

About forty people, many of whom have never heard of the ICC, gather in the small church at the center of the village. The field officer gives a speech in French that his associate translates into Lingála. He talks about the ICC and its mission. Then, on the whitewashed wall, he projects a video clip showing Bosco Ntaganda, known to many of the villagers as “The Terminator,” in a confirmation of charges hearing taking place in a courtroom in the Hague. The video is captioned with subtitles in Swahili. The villagers struggle to make sense of what they are seeing, but they’re interested and engaged.

Afterwards the field officer answers some questions. Then the associate administers a questionnaire consisting of a series of yes or no questions about the attendees’ perceptions of the ICC. The comments received are mostly positive. Everyone seems pleased by the experience.

This is the vision for the ICC’s Field Outreach: meeting directly with people affected by situations before the Court (the “Affected Public”) to bring them information about the ICC and its activities. And the ICC has been executing on this vision, conducting hundreds of similar meetings each year. The ICC believes that these in-person meetings with rural villagers are necessary to fulfill the Court’s mandate.4 The purpose of these in-person meetings is said to give communities “ownership over the Court,”5 or to “engender greater local community participation in Court proceedings,”6 or to make justice “seen to be done,”7 or to “establish an effective system of two-way communication,”8 or to “create realistic expectations9 of the Court’s work among affected communities”10

Those are all worthy goals, even if they are difficult to achieve. But does it really make sense to send representatives to remote rural regions of the world to try to bring news in-person of the ICC’s activities? Given a limited budget and resources, any outreach effort needs to make choices: who to reach, how to reach them, and what to say. As a young institution11 telling its story to the world, what are the right choices?

Once choices have been made, outreach products must be designed and executed. What should those materials be like? How can they be made more effective? What strategy should be used for their design, execution, and distribution?

The ICC Forum usually invites legal scholars to answer the questions of the Prosecutor. But this question on outreach required a response from practitioners. We’ve been creating outreach products for twenty-one years.12 The ICC Forum—this website—is one of our products, created for UCLA School of Law in partnership with the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor (OTP).13

The outreach question posed by the Prosecutor is a complex one with many parts. To respond to the question requires that we untangle the different motives for outreach, dive deep into the ICC’s goals for its materials, examine the process used to create them, and candidly point out issues and solutions along the way.

We’ll separate those materials that need to be continuously created from those that need to be created only once. We’ll discuss how information flows outward from the Court to the media and other organizations, and how those other entities repurpose that information to satisfy their own goals. We’ll examine how using a design process can help create great outreach materials. And we’ll provide examples of how creativity and creative partnerships can extend the reach of the ICC and its budget.

We’ll touch upon how partnerships between the ICC and other organizations can greatly increase the reach of the ICC at very low cost. Perhaps unsurprisingly, we cite this website—the ICC Forum—as a favorable example of an effective partnership.

Keeping in mind that witnesses and victims—at least identified victims—are the responsibility of the ICC’s Victims and Witness Unit (VWU) and not the Outreach Unit,14 we’ll take a hard look at the efficacy of trying to send representatives in person to rural locations in situation countries15 to meet with the Affected Public.

Before concluding, we’ll take a detailed look at the ICC’s website—its most important outreach tool—and offer suggestions for improvement.


II. Creating Effective Materials

A. Outreach vs. Marketing

In 2013 and 2014, the ICC spent over €3 million annually on its outreach effort.16 What is outreach17 and why would an organization18 want to engage in it?

The term “outreach” has two meanings. It can refer to a charitable activity—a church serving food to the poor. But it can also can refer to an organization’s desire to use communication to advance its own goals. The distinction is fundamental: does the activity advance the goals of the recipients or the organization?

What if the goals are mixed? What if the hungry people must listen to a sermon before receiving food? A church might believe that delivering the sermon serves the goals of the recipients. But that’s incorrect. The church is advancing its own goals by using the sermon to communicate with its audience. High-minded, altruistic motives don’t convert the church’s goals into those of its audience. The sermon is promotional; providing the food is charitable.

Marketing is the activity that an organization does to advance its goals by persuasively communicating with an appropriate audience.

The ICC serves communities when it investigates, prosecutes, defends, imprisons, and adjudicates the guilt or innocence of individuals. But that service isn’t done through outreach. The Court has no mandate to serve local communities through a charitable form of outreach; the Rome Statute is silent on the matter.

Let’s disentangle this at the outset so that we don’t confuse a promotional activity with a charitable one. The ICC’s outreach efforts are designed to advance the ICC’s goals. The taint of commerce clings to the term marketing; perhaps using the term outreach removes some of the commercial sting. But when used in its promotional sense, outreach describes the same activity as marketing.

So let’s define marketing. Marketing is the activity that an organization does to advance its goals by persuasively communicating with an appropriate audience.

B. Identifying Goals

Marketing goals tend to be few in number, and they are usually quite specific. For commercial projects, the goal is usually to sell a product or service; for non-profits, the goal is generally to raise money or awareness. Ancillary goals for both companies and non-profits are often about increasing goodwill.

The ICC’s goals for its outreach communications are overloaded. To an audience of the Affected Public in situation countries, the ICC aims “to cultivate a level of awareness and understanding of the ICC’s mandate and mode of operations, promote access to and understanding of judicial proceedings, and foster realistic expectations about the Court’s work.”19 It wants to foster greater participation of local communities in the activities of the Court.20 It wants to counter misinformation.21 And it wants to establish and maintain a sustained dialogue based on trust.22

But beyond this, the ICC wishes to increase the broader impact of the Court, promote deterrence, improve the enforcement of international justice and contribute to the prevention of crimes and the fight against impunity.23 It wants to be a “well-recognized and supported institution.”24 It wants to obtain cooperation.25 It wants to get key stakeholders in various countries to promote the principles of the Rome Statute and contribute to the respect and support of international criminal law.26 It wants to “situate the Court as part of the broader international justice system.”27 It wants to improve the quality of reporting on international justice issues.28 It wants to be a central resource for international criminal law.29 It wants to promote a positive image of the Court.30 And it wants to encourage the Assembly of States Parties to fund its budget.31

It also wants to support local judiciaries in their own efforts to prosecute those responsible for violations of the Rome Statute.32 It wants to establish a historical narrative of accountability for situation countries.33 It wants “to make justice meaningful among key groups within affected communities—in particular women, children and youths.”34

It needs to effectively counter political attacks. When the African Union or the president of Kenya, Uganda, or Zimbabwe denounce the Court, there needs to be an effective response. Similarly, the Court needs to be able to respond to inappropriate media criticism and errors, and be part of the news cycle regarding ongoing international conflicts.

As if this list wasn’t formidable enough, new outreach goals are added on an ad hoc basis. For example, goals were added to encourage African female lawyers35 and Sudanese lawyers36 to join the court. A goal was added to encourage the attendance of the elderly and the disabled at the Court’s sponsored meetings.37 A goal was added to encourage teaching about the ICC and international criminal law.38 When it was discovered that journalists were afraid of reporting about the ICC in the DRC, a new goal was added to train newspaper managers to help the journalists overcome their reticence.39

Given many goals and limited resources, only scant support can be allocated to any single goal. The Court’s outreach effort risks being stretched too thin, trying to do too much with too little.

That’s a lot of goals for a marketing program. Taken individually, these goals would be difficult to achieve. But trying to achieve all of them results in a loss of focus. Goals should form a locus—a magnetic north—towards which all marketing efforts point. When there are many dissimilar goals, marketing materials can’t effectively point to all of them. At best, some materials address some goals, while some materials address others. Often however, materials will try to support too many goals and become diffuse, not effectively supporting any of them. We grant that all these goals are worthy—who isn’t in favor of deterrence? Who doesn’t want to support the disabled?—but how does one distinguish the most important goals without prioritization? Given many goals and limited resources, only scant support can be allocated to any single goal. The Court’s outreach effort risks being stretched too thin, trying to do too much with too little.

C. Making Choices

Every marketing program exists within real-world constraints; we live in a world of restricted budgets, tight deadlines, and limited human resources. No project can do it all; choices have to be made.

Making choices is the soul of design: choices of goals, means, and resources. As Apple put it in a famous commercial, “Designing something requires focus…there are a thousand no’s for every yes.”40

All marketing efforts need to focus on what is attainable: given the constraints, what can be done to advance the organization’s goals? Practicality must infuse the choices made during the design process. This often requires considerable internal negotiation over priorities. “We’d love to be able to do that, but we just can’t afford it right now.” At the end of the design process, what’s left is what’s doable.

D. Type of Materials

While creating a painting, an artist might not worry about who will see it; distribution can be an afterthought. But in a marketing campaign, identifying the distribution channel comes before creating the product.

Distribution channels are chosen to reach particular desired audiences. Reaching European voters, for example, requires different channels than reaching Kenyan law students.

Technology vastly amplifies the reach of a marketing product.41 While it’s possible to reach people who do not have access to technology, it’s much more expensive. The per person cost of reaching an audience of European voters might be measured in pennies, while the per person cost of reaching the Affected Public in remote villages in the DRC might be measured in the tens or hundreds of euros.

Figure 1: Quadrant diagram explores types of marketing materials based upon distribution alternatives suggested by audience attributes.

Figure 1 Quadrant diagram explores types of marketing materials based upon distribution alternatives suggested by audience attributes.

In Figure 1, above, two independent audience attributes are used to explore distribution alternatives. The first attribute, the horizontal axis, is whether the user is seeking the information (“pull”) or, alternatively, whether the ICC is pursuing the user to deliver information (“push”). The second attribute, the vertical axis, is whether the user has access to technology or not.

In Figure 1, some media examples42 are provided for each of the four quadrants to illustrate how they vary depending on the two user attributes. Materials take the form dictated by the chosen communications technologies. If you’ve bought television commercial time, you need to create a video spot; if you’ve bought a highway sign, you need to create a billboard; if you’re developing a website, you need to create web content.

ICC outreach materials generally split into two broad categories:

  • News Materials are about what’s happening now. They include recently released Court documents, newsmaker interviews, press conferences, footage from the courtrooms, daily trial summaries, and other current happenings at the Court. Like most news, timeliness is a key consideration; these materials expire. And since the Registry is charged with remaining neutral in ongoing situations, the presentation of News Materials has to be carefully free of bias or advocacy. News Materials tend to be dry, but they don’t have to be dry as dust. They can be enlivened with news judgment, a knowledge of history and context, keen observations, good writing, and production craft.
  • Context Materials are about the Rome Statute, the founding and history of the Court, the place of the Court in the international system, the aspirations of the Court, and the reach and limitations of the Court. As a relatively new international institution, the Court needs to educate the world about all this and more: international criminal law generally, including its history and development; the important treaties and declarations; the ad hoc tribunals and the United Nations; human rights; and so on. Context Materials do not tend to expire, although they do need to be kept up to date.

The production of News Materials is ongoing and, for the most part, created through a pre-existing workflow. Daily trial summaries require a production pipeline: each time, someone has to write the summary, someone has to deliver it to camera, someone has to edit and package it, someone has to push it through the existing distribution channels. A press release runs through a pipeline as well, as does posting Court documents on the website.

The production of Context Materials is completely different. Each new product is a one-off. It has to advance some goal of the ICC, and it has to be tailored to its audience. It needs to be carefully conceived, designed, and produced; it needs to be interesting, creative, and imaginative.

E. Audience Groups

A marketing effort identifies appropriate audiences by broadly categorizing those who might be both receptive to its message and able to help satisfy its goals. When the goals are commercial, the identified audiences are those who might purchase a product or utilize a service. When the goals are political, the identified audiences are those who might advance those goals through voting, contributing, or advocacy. For the ICC’s outreach effort, each goal has a different, although potentially overlapping, set of appropriate audiences.

Many taxonomies can be devised to group audiences in useful ways. The ICC’s Public Information and Documentation Section (PIDS) identifies four core outreach programs: Community, Academic, Legal, and Media.43 We propose a slightly different high-level grouping based upon how the audiences use information from the ICC. That, in turn, suggests approaches to reach those audiences. Very broadly:

  • Media repurpose the materials to generate a product they can sell: newspaper and magazine articles, television reports, blog postings, and the like.
  • Organizations—including NGOs; Academics; and International, Governmental, and Academic Institutions—rely upon the material to shape their own work product. NGOs use it to influence their work with the Affected Public and otherwise; Academics use it as material to research, analyze, and criticize; Academic Institutions use it to affect their curricula; International and Governmental Institutions use it to influence policy.
  • The Affected Public uses the information to understand the impact on themselves and their communities.
  • The General Public absorbs the material in accordance with their widely varying personal and idiosyncratic interests. When targeting this group, it will be necessary to further divide it by considering additional characteristics: culture, language, education, degree of interest, technological access, geographic location, and so on.

It’s important to understand how these different audiences are likely to use these materials before creating them. Seeing the materials through the audiences’ eyes helps create materials that they will find useful. Useful materials have more impact and are more likely to be redistributed to others.

F. Information Flow

The ICC disseminates News and Context Materials44 to its four basic audiences: Organizations, Media, the Affected Public, and the General Public. The different audiences use that information in ways that are meaningful to them.

Figure 2: Information flows from the ICC to various audiences who then redistribute that information in a variety of ways.

Figure 2 Information flows from the ICC to various audiences who then redistribute that information in a variety of ways.

Information doesn’t just flow from the ICC outwards; it is also shared between the various audiences. Each repurposes the information in official and unofficial flows among the other groups. Journalists repurpose the ICC’s information to create the products they sell. Organizations actively work with the individuals they serve.45 Individuals communicate with each other in a variety of means, some of which are likely to be unanticipated by the ICC.46 Taken together, information flows freely from one audience to the next.

Organizations and Media have far greater access to technology than the Affected Public. They are much more likely to pull information from the ICC than depend upon push marketing from the Court; in Figure 1 above, they will be found primarily in the first quadrant. And, importantly, they have far more contact with the Affected Public and the General Public than the ICC can ever have. They often share cultural roots with the communities they serve. Considered collectively, Organizations and Media command more man-power, money, and resources. Of course, their focus isn’t on advancing the Court’s goals. They’ll only use the ICC’s materials if they find them useful to advance their own goals.

Figure 3: Information surrounds the Affected and General Publics.

Figure 3 Information surrounds the Affected and General Publics.

Information surrounds the Affected and General Publics and diffuses to their attention. Some of these individuals will be reached by Media, some will be reached by Organizations, some will be reached through community leaders, some will seek out information themselves from the ICC and, probably unavoidably, the vast majority won’t be reached at all.47

G. Compelling Content

It’s not enough to create a lot of content. The content also has to be good. Unfortunately, much of the Court’s outreach content is not.

Let’s speak plainly. It’s not enough to create a lot of content. The content also has to be good. Unfortunately, much of the Court’s outreach content is not. Boring content doesn’t work hard enough to advance the ICC’s goals.48 Flowing rivers of gray text are not compelling. Long-lived Context Materials should be fantastic. PIDS has had a long time to get these Context Materials just right.49

For Context Materials, unlike News Materials, there’s no need for the Registry to stay neutral and unbiased. The Registry can strongly advocate for the ICC, its history, and its importance in the international order.

Compelling and effective materials don’t just happen. Each piece of content needs to be designed to communicate just the right information with just the right voice to just the right audience.50 As the ICC wishes to communicate with a very diverse group of audiences, each piece of material must be adjusted for that audience’s culture, interests, education, and language.51

Figure 4: “We all bring our own baggage.”

Figure 4 “We all bring our own baggage.”

If a piece can’t be properly created with in-house resources and talent, then it should be outsourced.52 Even if it might seem more expensive (and it’s frequently not),53 choosing low cost over quality is a bad bargain.54

Beyond the good writing required to script an audio piece, you need a voice that is both charismatic and a native speaker in the target language. You need translation that goes beyond accuracy to preserve the rhythm and poetry of the original script. If you’re producing a live radio talk show, you need a knowledgable expert, fluent in the appropriate language and culture, who is both interesting to listen to and quick enough to carry off an extemporaneous performance. If you’re creating video, there are the technical aspects—lighting, camera, audio, editing—in addition to putting something on screen that’s worth watching. For print, you need good design, writing, photography,55 illustration, and layout.56 For the web, you need to combine those print skills with engineering talent and then couple that with a grasp of the web’s opportunities and limitations as a communications channel.57

H. Design Process and its Application

So how are great materials created that are both responsive to the needs of their audiences and advance the ICC’s goals? Unlike Athena’s emergence from Zeus’s head, products aren’t created fully formed. Having a design process allows for the conceptualization of an entire program or it can be zoomed in to create individual products. Design processes used by different organizations differ in their details, but generally contain the following steps:

  • discovery: specify and prioritize the goals; identify the audiences appropriate to advance those goals;
  • creative brief:58 state clearly the problem and the constraints;
  • design: craft an appropriate and doable solution to the problem;
  • production: gather available resources and execute the materials;
  • distribution:59 get the materials to the attention of the identified audiences;
  • assessment:60 determine whether the materials actually answered the creative brief and any lessons learned in the process, and then use that information to inform the next design cycle.
Figure 5: A design process—illustrated here in an eight step animation—helps create effective materials focused on the organization’s goals, and targeted to the right audience.

Figure 5 A design process—illustrated here in an eight step animation—helps create effective materials focused on the organization’s goals, and targeted to the right audience.

Consider the following realistic marketing fantasy. The intent of this hypothetical is to show how the design process can be used to create a product and how information flow can amplify distribution.

Discover: The process begins with the discover step. In section II(B), supra, we discussed discovery in terms of identifying and prioritizing the ICC’s goals for its materials; and in section II(E), supra, we discussed how to pick appropriate audiences to advance those goals. We won’t repeat that information here.

Choose: The next step is to write a creative brief. The ICC is interested in conveying certain topics. But the audience is also interested in particular topics. When choosing what to cover, it’s best to pick an intersection between the two. In this example, the choice is made to explain human rights—as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)—to the Affected Public.

Specify: As part of the creative brief, we need to specify the constraints. In our example, the creative brief might say the following:

We want to reach the Affected Public. The material should make the UDHR interesting and accessible to a semi-literate audience. There’s very little money available to create the product. The final product should be able to be distributed locally by our people on the ground in situation countries.

The creative brief is a negotiated document. The stakeholders need to agree that it properly sets forth the problem.61 But it should stop there—a creative brief shouldn’t offer a solution.

Design: Then the product needs to be designed. The project can be outsourced or, if the appropriate resources exist internally, assigned in-house.62 The designer figures out doable strategies that answer the creative brief. By using creativity to work within the constraints, the designer comes up with a targeted design solution.

Her design approach might be:

We’re going to sponsor a contest asking people to illustrate the individual articles of the UDHR. We’ll take the best submissions for each Article and create individual color posters that will be joined together to form a single PDF file. The PDF file can be considered a graphic comic book when viewed in its entirety or the individual pages can be printed as color posters by the field offices. In addition to conveying the information, we hope the artwork helps generate an emotional impression. By making it a contest, we’ll gain extra attention for the project, and we’ll give the newspapers a story for presenting the materials. We’ll make it clear that the PDF can be freely repurposed—maybe we can get some viral distribution.

The designer includes a sample page giving an idea of how the final might look.

Figure 6: Designer’s sample page to show how a contest might be used to illustrate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Figure 6 Designer’s sample page to show how a contest might be used to illustrate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Produce: Now the project needs to be produced. The producer63 uses her social media expertise, contacts acquaintances in the media, and puts out a call on the Internet for the contest. There’s some interest from media organizations: a few create stories about the ICC’s contest. There’s a decent response from the public. The producer creates a layout with the best submissions merged into a final product.

Distribute: The PDF is put up on the ICC’s own website and distributed electronically to the ICC field offices with instructions to output individual pages on color inkjet printers. The posters go up locally in several locations near the field offices.

The poster set is also distributed to the Media. More stories are created about the contest and the poster set, including several human interest profiles about the people who created the illustrations. Images of the posters appear on a number of Media websites. The images are tweeted and retweeted. They are posted on several LinkedIn and Facebook groups that send out emails to their members featuring the posters. Even months later, some of the illustrations are seen to accompany news articles about human rights—a notable use included a big spread in Uganda’s Daily Monitor on a feature story about government police abuses.

Because they advance its own goals, Human Rights Watch (HRW) puts the material up on its website and sends it around its network, including those in the field. Other human rights organizations pick up the electronic posters and make them available on their websites. The Human Rights Action Center prominently features the material to its supporters. Amnesty International was already creating packets of materials about human rights for schools in the Central African Republic; they reprint sets of the PDF on glossy color paper and include them in the packets. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights decides to use the materials as part of its own educational efforts. The Wikipedia entry on the UDHR links to the materials. The posters get some more attention on Twitter. Some schools in the DRC receive a donation of inexpensive computers. The organizers preloaded the PDF, together with other content, onto those computers. Some teachers who received those computers give their students the challenge of making their own illustrations from Articles of the UDHR.

In ongoing outreach efforts, assessment is the next step, consisting of two parts:

Evaluate: Did the product meet the requirements of the creative brief? Did it reach the desired audience? Was it effective?

Inform: Communicate what could be done better next time to those charged with the design and creation of the next round of materials.

Context Materials tend to be evergreen—they don’t expire. Since they last a long time, it’s a good investment to spend a bit more to get them right.

In this case, while the materials were well-liked, no one remembers that they came from the ICC. The ICC brand was on the front cover of the PDF packet, but not on the individual pages—and most people saw the individual pages used as posters and illustrations. Oops. Lesson learned. Next time, the ICC brand will be put onto each page. This information is communicated back to the outreach team.

Context Materials tend to be evergreen—they don’t expire. Since they last a long time, it’s a good investment to spend a bit more to get them right. Materials that don’t engage their audience (e.g. boring materials) tend to get stopped dead in their tracks. But interesting materials have legs and can “go viral”—traveling far beyond their initial distribution. Marketers dream of viral distribution for their products.

III. Partnerships

The ICC can’t accomplish its outreach goals alone. Other organizations—governments, NGOs, academic and civil society associations—have reach and resources beyond those that the ICC can muster. Organizations already receive and repurpose the information disseminated by the ICC. But a partnership implies a closer relationship for a defined activity, where partners put their own resources and networks to work advancing the ICC’s goals. Partners can also be called upon to be a strong voice for the ICC when it’s under attack.64 But that network of support can’t be built overnight.

The ICC occupies a privileged position in the constellation of organizations. It is relatively new and can still be agile. Its mission is widely supported. It’s perceived as an important member of the international community. From the perspective of another organization, a partnership with the ICC confers prestige. All of this makes the ICC a valuable partner.

The downside of entering into a partnership is that the ICC loses some measure of control. Other organizations have their own goals that may not match perfectly with the ICC’s. For example, the Registry is charged with being neutral in relation to current situations. A partner such as HRW doesn’t operate under that type of restriction—they don’t shy away from advocacy.

The trick to creating a successful partnership is to align the ICC’s goals with those of its partner. Where the goals won’t align, create separation. Where projects are a win-win for both organizations, goal alignment is possible. In order to make a partnership work, the ICC has to be on the lookout for these opportunities, and it has to make some changes in its own operations to be a better partner itself.65 Finally, the ICC has to be prepared to cede some control to its partner.

A. The ICC Forum—An Example Partnership

How does such a partnership work in practice? Unlike the marketing hypothetical we used to discuss the design process, this example is quite real.

The ICC Forum66 (the “Forum”) is a joint venture between the UCLA School of Law and the ICC’s OTP. It was designed to moot some of the tough legal issues faced by the OTP and the Court. Each issue of the Forum identifies a specific question of interest to the OTP, frames that question, organizes background materials, and reaches out to a balanced group of experts—usually legal scholars known for their work on the topic—to generate a range of well-considered opinions on that issue. The public is invited to comment on the issues. Their comments are carefully moderated to keep the conversation civil and on point. The Forum was intended to use the web to combine the best aspects of a legal journal with the approachability of an online community interested in high-level discussions of international legal issues.67

Let’s talk about goal alignment. The Forum is funded by the Sanela Diana Jenkins Human Rights Project. For Ms. Jenkins, a survivor of the Bosnian Conflict, the Forum advances her abiding interest in international justice issues. For the students of UCLA School of Law, the Forum represents an opportunity to conduct research and do legal writing on a variety of important topics, for a real audience, alongside some of the most respected and well-known experts in the world. For the UCLA School of Law, the partnership with the ICC confers institutional prestige. For Professor Richard Steinberg, the Forum’s Editor-in-Chief, the Forum affords a leadership position in the scholarly exploration of a new legal discipline—human rights and international criminal law. Of course, it also provides him with an excellent authentic activity68 he can use to teach his students.

But what of the ICC OTP’s goals? The Forum provides a variety of viewpoints to help the OTP sharpen its legal thinking on the issues under discussion. The Forum also helps expose the public to some of the complex issues faced by the OTP. And, to help offset the opacity of the internal operations of the OTP, it helps educate the legally-interested public on how the OTP actually works.

While the goals of the OTP and PIDS aren’t identical, the Forum also addresses many of PIDS goals. It can fairly be said that the Forum helps to:

  • cultivate a level of awareness and an understanding of the ICC’s mandate and mode of operations.
  • promote access to and understanding of judicial proceedings.
  • foster realistic expectations about the Court’s work.
  • establish the ICC as part of the international order and be a “well recognized and supported institution.”
  • forward the ICC as an entity that can provide a positive force for peace and justice in the world.
  • create a central resource for international criminal law.
  • develop a positive image of the Court and address political and media attacks.
  • assist the ICC in being part of the news cycle on relevant, trending issues.

The Forum is a credible source of unbiased information about the ICC precisely because it entertains a wide variety of opinions, including those critical of the Court.

How can we claim that the Forum helps provide a positive image of the Court when it hosts some opinions that are openly hostile to the Court? There are comments on the Forum that accuse the Court of being an instrument wielded by western powers to exert colonialism over Africa; that criticize the Court as being too slow or ineffective to provide a real deterrent; and that attack the Court for having a hidden political agenda.

The Forum is a credible source of unbiased information about the ICC precisely because it entertains a wide variety of opinions, including those critical of the Court. We’ve all developed a finely-tuned sense that rejects the unrelenting flow of flattery that many organizations heap upon themselves in their marketing materials. Every important institution has detractors. That the ICC welcomes negative opinions says a lot about the institution. It’s not about bravery. Rather, akin to the adversarial process said to be a courtroom’s crucible for truth, the Court shows that it is unafraid of being challenged, and perhaps improved, through analysis and debate.

Those negative opinions are also at a distance from the Court. There’s a separation between an open online discussion run by the UCLA School of Law and the ICC itself. That separation is an important benefit of a partnership with another organization. Whatever happens on the Forum isn’t attributable to the ICC.

Partnerships do require something of a cultural shift—a leap of faith perhaps—where the ICC doesn’t see the landscape as “us versus them.” Rather, the ICC needs to trust its partners and see itself as part of a community of generally like-minded people and organizations, sympathetic to each other, each trying to do the right thing, and all dedicated to international justice and human rights.

IV. ICC’s Field Outreach

A cornerstone of the ICC’s outreach effort has been directed towards the Affected Public who aren’t seeking information from the ICC and don’t have access to technology—Figure 1’s third quadrant. For each of the years 2011 and 2012, as many as 35,000 people went to about 500 meetings with ICC Outreach field staff.69 While 35,000 is a lot of people, it is instructive to compare that to an outreach effort targeting the Affected Public who do have access to technology—the audience in Figure 1’s second quadrant. The Outreach Unit claims that, in the DRC alone, they reached an estimated 25 million people annually through print, television, and radio.70 Finally, 35,000 people must also be measured against the combined population of those five countries: about 183 million people.71

The effort spent reaching those 35,000 people in a year was significant.72 The money and other resources73 used for this effort were diverted from other outreach efforts that could have reached a much wider audience. Was it worth it? If it was intended as a charitable effort, how much good did it do? If it was a marketing effort, how effective was it in comparison to its cost?

These are hard questions to answer. There’s no doubt that the people who physically attended a meeting learned more about the ICC as a result. What the Outreach Report doesn’t provide are examples where the Affected Public’s lives were improved, or even where they were able to take direct action, based upon the information received during a meeting with the ICC’s Outreach Unit.74 The post-meeting assessment primarily focuses on the ICC’s promotional goals for the meeting: was the attendee’s perception of the ICC improved as a result of the meeting?75

At this point in the ICC’s history, the ICC can communicate its aspirational goals to the Affected Public, but little that has a current impact on their lives and security.

A primary objective for the meetings is to dampen the expectations of the audience for both reparations and justice.76 At this point in the ICC’s history, the ICC can communicate its aspirational goals to the Affected Public, but little that has a current impact on their lives and security.77 Perhaps, in the future, the ICC will be able to meet the expectations of the Affected Public and demonstrate a record of success in ending impunity and providing victim compensation.78

Each of the situation countries has other Organizations—NGOs, governmental and religious groups, and civil society associations—that, together with local news media, keep their populations appraised of the work done by the Court. These groups are part of these communities and are immersed in their culture. They are the insiders.79 Isn’t it up to them—and not the Court—to disseminate this information?80 Isn’t the ICC more likely to spread news of its activities by concentrating its efforts on these other Organizations? Should the ICC really create groups of on-the-ground personnel traveling around rural areas in situation countries to try to bring news about the ICC, in-person, to people without access to technology?

Serving the Affected Public is a noble activity and people feel good doing it. Some other organizations, that serve hard-to-reach populations, require direct physical contact with the people they serve. When the Médecins Sans Frontières team travels to rural villages in the DRC for a vaccination program, they must do so with an in-person outreach program.81 But the ICC serves the Affected Public by adjudicating crimes committed against them. Its “justice vaccine” is administered at a distance; its service isn’t performed through outreach.82

If the ICC improves the situation on the ground, the Affected Public will know about it, even if they’ve never heard of the ICC. The ICC can use an in-person outreach program to take credit for positive changes in people’s lives, facilitate their understanding of the Court, and try to garner their support. But that’s a marketing effort designed to advance the goals of the ICC rather than an act of service to the Affected Public.

Budgets are tight. The ICC’s in-person outreach effort reaches only a tiny fraction of the Affected Public at a significant expense. Weighing the costs against the benefits, this is not an efficient investment of the ICC’s marketing resources. Choosing to meet in-person with a small handful of the Affected Public means that there are no resources available to market to other easier-to-reach audiences, even including other members of the Affected Public. It is tempting to try to do it all, but goals must be prioritized and some may have to be considered “Nice to Have” rather than “Must Have.”83 If a major ICC outreach component must be cut, this is it.84

V. The ICC’s Website

The ICC’s website (the “Website”) is its most important communication and distribution platform. In addition to the information, documents, and other material found there, it is also used to stream public hearings and distribute materials to the press and the ICC’s own field offices. For most people around the world, the Website is the embodiment of the Court. The Website needs to tell the story of the Court through Context Materials; it must provide News Materials to tell the activity of the Court; and it must educate by being a library, an archive, and providing the history of the Court. Those with technological access seeking information about the Court85 probably make the Website one of their first destinations. In 2013, the Website had more than two million visitors, double that of 2012.86

The Website serves diverse audience groups, each with specific needs. The general public requires contextualization to understand the Court. Media and Organizations seek News Materials. Students writing a report on the ICC seek Context Materials. Practitioners and scholars seek a definitive source for the official documents of the Court. The Affected Public seek information on interacting with the Court.

The Website needs to be technically competent, modern in design, usable across a variety of devices, and easy to search and navigate. Currently, the content is mostly text with a few images. There’s little video or other rich media.87 Because the Website is a resource for the Court, and for international criminal law generally, the location of deep content on the Website needs to never change once it has been posted.

An effort must be made to keep the text on webpages up-to-date. There’s content up on the site that has clearly never been revisited since it was first posted. For example, on the DRC Outreach page, this paragraph has not been updated for at least seven years:

Outreach activities in 2008 will focus mainly on Ituri and the two Kivus because of the current court cases. Special effort will be made to ensure access …88

On the web, each individual document or webpage has a unique location address called a Uniform Resource Locator (URL), the link that often starts with ‘http’. The Website has extremely long and unwieldy URLs. Even for websites managing a lot of content, there’s no technical requirement that URLs be so complex.89 Many URLs contain improper characters.90 And in 2012, an earlier URL scheme was replaced with a new scheme with even longer URLs, breaking the existing links.91 URL permanence,92 critical for preserving citations to original material,93 is a key component of the ICC’s stated goal of being a central resource for international criminal law. But this has not been internalized by the ICC’s information technology personnel.94

Technically, the ICC’s Website is built upon a content management system (CMS). A CMS is a software tool designed to manage a website, ideally separating the content from its presentation on a webpage. A database usually contains the content or its representation.95 A handful of templates contain the presentation of the webpages. The CMS merges the database content with the presentation found in the appropriate template and produces the pages actually seen by the user—with a header, footer, sidebar, links, and text.

Which CMS to adopt is an important decision.96 Once implemented, the choice is locked in—it’s difficult to move content from one system to a different vendor’s system later on. But the templates, containing the visual presentation of the website’s content, are much more flexible. The templates should be periodically adjusted so that the visual presentation they control is kept fresh over the life of a website.

Without going into too much technical detail, a look at the underlying source code for the pages of the ICC’s Website reveals something of a mess. Lots of content has been added over time, but the current coding style remains stuck in the early 2000s, back when the web was very young and web standards had not yet evolved. The webpages mix semantic content with presentation;97 are difficult to maintain;98 violate web standards;99 and won’t validate.100 The pages are non-responsive,101 and are set at a fixed width of 750 pixels.102 Because the presentation is fixed, it does not adapt to improve the experience for users on mobile devices with narrower screens,103 or for users on laptop or desktop devices with wider or higher resolution screens.104 Also, the look of the Website is dated and the aesthetics could be greatly improved.105

The public-facing front end of the Website suffers from clear neglect and needs competent attention.

It’s an effort to manage a website for an organization as large and complex as the ICC. But it’s an important effort that has to be done properly. Whether the back end of the Website is adequate for the needs of the ICC is unknown to us. But the focus for the Website cannot all be directed inwards towards the needs of the organization; it needs to be directed outwards, towards the needs of its users. And, right now, the public-facing front end of the Website suffers from clear neglect and needs competent attention.

VI. Conclusion

When an organization loads too many objectives onto its outreach program, there’s a loss of focus. Materials that try to address too many goals end up not effectively supporting any of them. The outreach effort gets stretched too thin.

The ICC has a wide range of goals and a wide range of audiences. Rather than try to address all the goals with a single product, the ICC needs to create particular materials to address particular goals with particular audiences.

Outreach materials cleanly divide into news and context. News Materials need to be continuously created in-house on a schedule. But Context Materials should be more considered than that. Because they are not time sensitive, they can be carefully designed to communicate effectively with their audience.

Unfortunately, much of the ICC’s available outreach materials are uninspired and dull. Creating good content is hard. But an organization such as the ICC can certainly find the talent and resources necessary to do so, even if it isn’t available in-house.

The audiences for the outreach materials have different needs. It’s best to divide the audiences based upon how they are likely to use the ICC’s information—supporting those uses where possible. This amplifies the distribution of the ICC’s products without adding to their cost.

The ICC can’t do it alone. It needs to enter into partnerships with other organizations—governments, NGOs, academic and civil society associations—that have reach and resources beyond those that the ICC can muster. The ICC Forum—this website—is an example of how an effective partnership can work to advance the ICC’s goals without significant cost to the ICC.

We argue against sending representatives in-person to remote rural regions of the world to try to bring news of the ICC’s activities to the Affected Public. Even if the ICC has altruistic motives, this field outreach isn’t done for charity; it’s done to advance the ICC’s goals. And it must advance those goals sufficiently to justify its cost. Currently it doesn’t.

The ICC’s Website is its most important outreach tool. The Website could be very effective in addressing audiences of different interest levels, educational attainment, language, and culture. The Website is also the reservoir of all the ICC’s materials—and the custodian of its history and legal legacy.

But the public-facing side of the website is stale. It’s text heavy and gray. It doesn’t communicate well to the variety of people who come seeking information. And it has a number of technical problems. Examples include: failure to adapt for mobile devices (a poor experience for mobile users), mixing content with presentation (a maintenance headache), and not supporting link permanence (a decrease in value as an archive of international criminal law). The Website is primarily a communication tool, and yet its focus seems to be directed inwards, towards the needs of the Court, rather than outwards, towards the needs of its audiences. The Website has been neglected; we suspect that it is underfunded. Given its importance to the outreach effort, it should attract a larger share of the outreach budget.

In closing, we realize that circumstances sometimes require outreach to be reactive rather than deliberative. Anybody who’s been paying even scant attention knows that the ICC has significant public relations problems. Al-Bashir has claimed victory over the ICC in Darfur.106 Kenya’s Kenyatta has said he has been vindicated by the dropping of charges against him.107 Ethiopia’s Desalegn, the previous head of the African Union, accused the court of “race-hunting”108 and is agitating for rules shielding sitting heads of state from prosecution.109 Uganda’s Museveni is trying to orchestrate a mass exodus of African nations from the Rome Statute.110 Zimbabwe’s Mugabe, newly ascended to the chairmanship of the African Union, was once urged upon the Court as a possible target for prosecution.111 Perhaps unsurprisingly, he is not friendly towards the ICC,112 and has said that Africa must withdraw from the Court.113

These issues require a strong response from the Court. However, it’s all too easy to get lost in the weeds. Beyond public relations and the News and Context Materials, there’s a need for something more in the ICC’s outreach effort.

The ICC is the world’s most recent expression of a desire for international criminal justice. People everywhere want accountability for the crimes that are committed against them. If not yet an expectation, justice is at least an aspiration. The Court is a radical innovation where a large majority of the world’s countries have surrendered a piece of their individual sovereignty to collectively say “no more” to the scourge that war inflicts upon civilians. The ICC’s outreach effort has to go beyond the ICC itself and help sell the Rome Statute’s vision of international criminal justice to the world. While the promise of the Rome Statute is yet to be fully achieved, the ICC as an institution needs to change societal norms of war and impunity.

Figure 7: Promoting Social Change at Different Levels

Figure 7 ICC Outreach must reach different levels of social organization to cause societal change.

Endnotes — (click the footnote reference number, or ↩ symbol, to return to location in text).

  1. 1.

    The DRC is a large country. The capital city of Kinshasa—where the ICC has its field office—is located in the west. The conflict region is primarily in the east. Being located in Kinshasa has advantages for the ICC: they’re near the seat of government and the headquarters for media organizations, and it is relatively secure. But it also makes it very difficult to reach the conflict area in the east. The infrastructure necessary to make the trip by land vehicle just doesn’t exist.

    Although we’ve found it difficult to confirm, it seems that the ICC has also been operating informally from an office in Goma, a city in the conflict area on the eastern edge of the country bordering Rwanda. From there, it is possible to travel by car to rural villages that have suffered through the ongoing conflict. See Public Information and Outreach: Engaging with Communities, Advance Copy, Int’l Crim. Ct. (Nov. 17, 2014), at 10, available online [hereinafter Engaging with Communities].

  2. 2.

    In March 2014, as part of a research project in the DRC on the effects of mass rape used as a weapon of war, Professor Richard Steinberg and his students traveled from Goma to remote villages in the Fizi region of South Kivu. These photos—by his students Victor Fabre, Jenevieve Discar, and David Kramer—capture some of the difficulties of travel on these roads. Traveling on the roads in remote villages in the Fizi region of South Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

  3. 3.

    For a vivid impression of the physical difficulties of reaching remote, war-torn villages in the eastern DRC, see Phil Coomes, Into the Bush: Vaccinating a Remote Community, BBC News, Nov. 17, 2014, available online, (containing an article and imagery of a photojournalist as he accompanies a Médecins Sans Frontières vaccination team into a hard-to-reach rural area of the DRC).

  4. 4.

    International Criminal Court, Strategic Plan for Outreach of the International Criminal Court, ICC-ASP/5/12 at 3 (Sep. 29, 2006), available online [hereinafter Strategic Plan]:

    [3] Hence, in order for the Court to fulfil its mandate, it is imperative that its role and judicial activities are understood, particularly in those communities affected by the commission of crimes under the Court’s jurisdiction.

  5. 5.

    International Criminal Court, Video: Making Justice Meaningful, YouTube (Dec. 8, 2010) at 1:25, available online.

    By working with the communities, the Outreach unit aims to give them ownership over the Court, rendering it an institution that works for them and in their name.

  6. 6.

    International Criminal Court, Outreach Report 2010 (Nov. 26, 2010) at 1, available online [hereinafter Outreach Report 2010]:

    The Outreach Unit’s programmes aim to cultivate a level of awareness and understanding of the ICC’s mandate and mode of operations, promote access to and understanding of judicial proceedings, and foster realistic expectations about the Court’s work. This in turn will engender greater local community participation in Court proceedings by addressing the concerns of those in affected communities and by countering misperceptions.

  7. 7.

    Strategic Plan, supra note 4, at 3.

    [I]t should not be forgotten that making judicial proceedings public is a central element of a fair trial and therefore necessary to ensuring the quality of justice. Justice must be both done and seen to be done.

  8. 8.


    The Court must therefore put in place mechanisms to ensure that affected communities can understand and follow the Court through the different phases of its activities. To this end, it must seek to bridge the distance between the Court and these communities by establishing an effective system of two-way communication. This communication should serve first of all to increase the confidence of these communities in the international criminal justice system, since they will be better informed about the Court and its role. But it will also enable the Court to better understand the concerns and expectations of the communities so that it could respond more effectively and clarify, where necessary, any misconceptions that might exist, particularly on the question of how local and international justice mechanisms work together.

  9. 9.

    “Realistic expectations” means “reduced expectations.” See Strategic Plan, supra note 4, at 25:

    Among the affected population, there are high expectations about the Court. Outreach activities need to explain that the Court will not prosecute all persons who have committed crimes in the region. This is coupled with their expectation that the Court will provide comprehensive reparations for the crimes committed against them.

    See also International Criminal Court, Report on the Activities of the International Criminal Court, ICC-ASP/13/37 (Nov. 19, 2014) at 9, available online:

    Outreach activities focused on managing expectations of concerned populations with regard to the stage of the proceedings in the Lubanga and Katanga cases, including on potential reparations.

  10. 10.

    Outreach Report 2010, supra note 6, at Foreword.

  11. 11.

    The Rome Statute came into effect on July 1, 2002 and the ICC began operations on March 11, 2003. Claire Calzonetti, Council on Foreign Rel., Frequently Asked Questions about the International Criminal Court: How did the court begin? available online (last updated Jul. 23, 2012). It’s fair to say that the ICC is still establishing its footing among the international community.

  12. 12.

    We’re the principals of Pipsqueak Productions located in San Francisco, California.

  13. 13.

    The ICC Forum was created under the direction of Professor Richard Steinberg at UCLA School of Law, and produced in collaboration with Professor Steinberg, the students of his clinic, the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC, and the Sanela Diana Jenkins Human Rights Project.

  14. 14.

    For witnesses and identified victims, the Rome Statute provides for their participation during the proceedings and, in some circumstances, to receive protective measures, security arrangements, and reparations. Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Adopted by the United Nations Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court, Jul. 17 1998, UN Doc. A/CONF.183/9 [hereinafter Rome Statute], at Article 68. The Rome Statute also provides for the creation of a Victims and Witnesses Unit (VWU) whose activities include two-way communication between victims and witnesses and the Court. Rome Statute, Article 43(6). Witnesses also need to be in communication with the OTP. These contacts with the victims and witnesses by the VWU and the OTP are not part of the outreach activities of the Court. When we talk about field outreach with the Affected Public, we are not talking about these kinds of communications, which are beyond the scope of this comment. See Victims and Witnesses Unit, Int’l Crim. Ct., available online, archived (last visited Feb. 8, 2015).

  15. 15.

    Countries affected by situations and cases before the Court are referred to as “situation countries.”

    The ICC doesn’t focus on a single location and must split its resources between all its situation countries and beyond. This disinguishes the ICC’s outreach efforts from similar efforts of the ad hoc tribunals—the ICTY, ICTR, SCSL, ECCC, STL, SPSC, and so on—each of which is dedicated to a single community.

  16. 16.

    The 2013 approved budget for the Public Information and Documentation Section (PIDS) that includes the ICC’s outreach effort (broadly defined—see discussion, infra note 17), was €3,754,700. The then proposed budget for 2014 was €3,798,200. The budget contains other items that aren’t strictly within our definition of outreach including the Library, the Documentation Unit, and the Protocol Unit. Therefore, based on the publicly available information, “over €3 million” is a reasonable approximation. See International Criminal Court, Proposed Programme Budget for 2014 of the International Criminal Court, ICC-ASP/12/10 (Jul. 29, 2013), at 144 tbl. 91, available online [hereinafter Proposed 2014 Budget].

  17. 17.

    The ICC sometimes uses the term “outreach” to refer only to communication with the Affected Public—what we sometimes refer to as “Field Outreach.” Other activities fall under other headings including “external relations” and “public affairs.” At other times, the ICC uses the term “outreach” to refer to all those functions collectively, together with some work of the information and communications technology group. For this comment, we use the term outreach in its broad, inclusive sense. See Outreach, Int’l Crim. Ct., available online, archived (last visited Feb. 8, 2015).

  18. 18.

    When we refer to the “ICC” or the “Court,” we’re treating it as a single entity, as it is generally perceived from the outside. However, we recognize that, internally, the ICC has divided its responsibilities among its four organs of the Presidency, Judicial Division, Office of the Prosecutor, and the Registry, and that the Registry is primarily charged with outreach. Within the Registry, there are further divisions of responsibility that, for the most part, we ignore.

  19. 19.

    Outreach Report 2010, supra note 6, at 1.

  20. 20.

    Strategic Plan, supra note 4, at 5.

  21. 21.


  22. 22.

    Id. at 6.

  23. 23.

    International Criminal Court, Integrated Strategy for External Relations, Public Information and Outreach (Apr. 18, 2007) at 2, available online.

  24. 24.

    International Criminal Court, Official Records of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Fifth session, The Hague, 23 November to 1 December 2006, ICC-ASP/5/32, part II at 84, available online.

  25. 25.

    International Criminal Court, Strategic Plan of the International Criminal Court, ICC-ASP/5/6 (Aug. 4, 2006) at 6, available online.

  26. 26.

    Outreach Report 2010, supra note 6, at 1.

  27. 27.

    Strategic Plan, supra note 4, at 10.

  28. 28.

    International Criminal Court, Report of the Court on the public information strategy 2011–2013, ICC-ASP/9/29 (Nov. 22, 2010) at 6, available online [hereinafter Strategy 2011–2013].

  29. 29.

    Id. at 9.

  30. 30.

    Proposed 2014 Budget, supra note 16, at 140, ¶¶552, 557.

  31. 31.

    See Outreach Report 2010, supra note 6, at Foreword.

  32. 32.

    International Criminal Court, Review Conference of the Rome Statute, RC/ST/CM/INF.2 (May 30, 2010) at 3, available online (Focal points’ compilation of examples of projects aimed at strengthening domestic jurisdictions to deal with Rome Statute Crimes).

  33. 33.

    Iain MacLeod, Head of UK Delegation, Statement of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, ASP (Nov. 21, 2013) at 2, available online.

  34. 34.

    Outreach Report 2010, supra note 6, at 1.

  35. 35.

    See Press Release, Int’l Crim. Ct.,, First phase of the ICC’s “Calling African Female Counsel Campaign” a success (Nov. 26, 2010), available online.

  36. 36.

    Outreach Report 2010, supra note 6, at 48.

  37. 37.

    Id. at 7.

  38. 38.

    Id. at 30:

    [T]o encourage teaching on international criminal law and the ICC by including the topic of international criminal law in the formal curricula of faculties of Law, Political Science, International Affairs, and Journalism.

  39. 39.

    Id. at 35.

  40. 40.

    Apple Inc., Video: Intention (Jun. 11, 2013), available online.

  41. 41.

    In discussing the 1956 television premiere of Laurence Olivier’s movie Richard III, USC English literature professor Dr. Frank Baxter noted that, thanks to television, more people saw the play in that one telecast than had witnessed all its stage performances since Shakespeare’s time. Jack Gould, TV: Another Milestone. Debut of ‘Richard III’ on Home Screen is Economically Impossible Come True, N.Y. Times, Mar. 12, 1956, available online.

  42. 42.

    In 2006, PIDS presented their brainstorming on the possible ways that the ICC could communicate to their different audiences. The results were a comprehensive collection of outreach options—a mixed list of both distribution and materials—from games to theatrical performances, radio and television programs, university courses, cartoons, posters, and many others. See Strategic Plan, supra note 4.

  43. 43.

    Outreach Report 2010, supra note 6, at 9.

  44. 44.

    In 2010, the latest year that a detailed public report of the Outreach Unit’s work is available, the scope of work was truly massive. There were daily trial summaries in video and audio, hundreds of hours of radio programming including many one hour talk shows, hundreds of video “Ask the Court” programs, theatrical performances, moot court programs, “Listening Clubs,” academic briefings, workshops, interactive meetings, print materials, materials for schools, and many more. See generally Outreach Report 2010, supra note 6.

  45. 45.

    See Strategy 2011–2013, supra note 28, at 11:

    NGOs plays a key role in disseminating information and raising awareness about the Court through such activities as organizing seminars, panel discussions, roundtables, exhibits and commemorative events, and focusing on ICC-related key issues.

  46. 46.

    An interesting research case study focuses on how communities of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in Pakistan; isolated by instability, poverty, conflict, and extensive media censorship; use a complex technical and non-technical communications network to access and test the veracity of the information they need. Panthea Lee, Reboot & Internews, Trust, Influence, and Connectivity: Understanding Information Ecosystems in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas (2013), available online. See also Panthea Lee, Chatting in Code on Walkie-Talkies in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas: How people communicate in one of the most dangerous places on earth, The Atlantic, May 16, 2013, available online (presenting a summary version of the report).

  47. 47.

    See Tara Susman-Peña et al., Internews, Why Information Matters: A foundation for resilience (Nov. 2014) at 11, available online:

    Borrowed from environmental studies, the term “information ecosystem” is used to describe how local communities exist and evolve within particular information and communication systems. Within these systems, different types of news and information may be received from outside then passed on to others—through word of mouth, key community members, phone, the Internet, and the like. An examination of an information ecosystem looks at the flow, trust, use and impact of news and information.

  48. 48.

    In print materials, for example, there’s sometimes a notion that long, text-heavy pages, without graphics or polish, convey a serious tone befitting the gravitas of an organization. But materials can be both lively and informative, and still be appropriate for a serious institution. It seems self-evident, but perhaps it deserves to be explicitly stated: outreach materials are designed to communicate; the better they are at communicating, the more effective they will be at serving the outreach goals of the Court. See also discussion, infra note 56.

  49. 49.

    Take, for example, the ICC’s webpage for the Rome Statute itself which presents links, in four languages, to PDF files of the statute’s text. Wouldn’t you imagine that the ICC’s website would host a more vibrant presentation of this foundational document? Rome Statute, Int’l Crim. Ct., available online, archived (last visited Jan. 31, 2015) [hereinafter Rome Statute Webpage]. Rome Statute Webpage on the ICC’s Website. Compare ICC Forum Rome Statute Webpage, infra note 57 (an interactive web presentation of the Rome Statute that’s more functional than a static PDF file).

  50. 50.

    A particular piece of Context Material content shouldn’t try to do it all; it can be tightly focused on a particular piece of information and point to a single ICC outreach goal. Only in aggregate do the Context Materials need to cover all the necessary information and support all the prioritized outreach goals.

  51. 51.

    The Rome Statute is based primarily on western traditions of justice. But even First World audiences, including those trained in the law, can have difficulty understanding the ICC, its mission, its procedures, its limitations, and international criminal law generally. The difficulty of appropriately contextualizing the ICC is compounded when the audience is from a different culture and isn’t familiar with western legal principles, or has limited education, or doesn’t speak the same language.

  52. 52.

    We acknowledge our own bias here; our company depends on the work that organizations outsource to us. Sometimes, an organization has the talent and resources available in-house to execute a particular project well. But when they don’t, and still try to do it themselves, the project suffers. See Christopher Werby & Olga Werby, The Digital Do-It-Yourselfer, Pipsqueak Productions, available online (last visited Jan. 31, 2015):

    Imagine you need a suit. You can buy a sewing machine and some fabric and go to town. But when you get there, it’s going to be in a homemade suit. […] Even if you own a sewing machine—unless you’re a tailor—it’s probably not a good idea to make your own suits.

  53. 53.

    In order to make an accurate comparison of the costs of performing work in-house versus outsourcing it, many hidden charges need to be made explicit. See Christopher Werby & Olga Werby, True Costs of an In-house Project, Pipsqueak Productions, available online (last visited Jan. 31, 2015).

  54. 54.

    Getting the attention of the audience is usually the most expensive part of marketing. It doesn’t make sense to spend that money, get their attention, and then spoil it by presenting poor materials.

  55. 55.

    Good photography is a valuable communications asset that can create a big impact and doesn’t require translation. A good photograph is useful to make a strong layout for a print piece or a website. A good photograph can convey emotion, or suggest trust, or compassion, or dedication, or dignity. On the other hand, poor photography creates little impact and produces a bad impression. That bad impression bleeds over, contaminating whatever message was intended to be conveyed. In marketing circles, there’s a well-known story about how an airplane’s dirty exterior caused passengers to unfairly make negative inferences about its engine maintenance. They might not know about mechanical safety, but they know about dirt.

    Someone at the ICC came up with the idea of training event staff members to take photos so that they could replace professional photographers. Proposed 2014 Budget, supra note 16, at 143:

    It also includes training in photography, with a view to savings in the cost of using professional photographers for website use and publications, […]

    This is one of those ideas that sounds good, but isn’t. Amateur photos are fine for amateur use. But if you’re hiring professional photographers whose work actually can be replaced by event staff members after a bit of training, then you need to hire better professional photographers.

  56. 56.

    For example, consider the illustrations and layout of an important context document: “Understanding the International Criminal Court.” The layout is a single long column of text, interspersed by full page “illustrations” which were created by running photos through a computer filter to produce an illustrated effect. The document has been set up for page spreads, with even and odd running footers, and intentionally blank pages that force the sections to begin on the (incorrectly numbered) verso page. But the document, when linked from the website, is intended to be read in a web browser. In a web browser, blank pages are a nuisance, and page spreads aren’t part of the presentation. Without intending to be harsh, few would mistake this document for a professionally designed and illustrated web presentation. International Criminal Court, Understanding the International Criminal Court, available online, archived (last visited Feb. 8, 2015).

  57. 57.

    The web is a different medium than print and requires a different approach. A document designed for print is not nearly as effective to a web audience as a presentation customized for the web. See, e.g., id. Even straight text can be more functional online when its presentation has been tailored for use on the web. See, e.g., Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, ICC Forum, available online [hereinafter ICC Forum Rome Statute Webpage].

  58. 58.

    In Figure 5, infra, we divide this step into the “choose” and “specify” steps.

  59. 59.

    Using the ‘if we build it, they will come’ approach to distribution just doesn’t work. A plan must be created and executed to get materials to the attention of their appropriate audiences. Creating materials that no one sees is a wasted effort.

    For just one example, see International Criminal Court, Video: Outreach report 2008, Central African Republic, YouTube (Oct. 14, 2009), available online (last visited Feb. 2, 2015) [hereinafter Outreach Video]. The video can (just barely) be accessed from the ICC’s Website by following this chain of links: Main Page Educational Resources Multimedia Resources In the Field → to a YouTube playlist. On the YouTube page, it’s the first item on the list. In the five years since this video was posted, it has garnered a total of 96 views. This video could easily have been embedded on the ICC Website’s “Outreach” or “Situation” pages. There it would have enjoyed much greater exposure, while enlivening the text-heavy presentation of those pages.

  60. 60.

    In Figure 5, infra, we divide this step into the “evaluate” and “inform” steps.

  61. 61.

    The creative brief should be done in-house—or, at least, carefully considered and endorsed by the stakeholders. Usually a one-time external production resource won’t have the information necessary to properly define the problem, although an ongoing relationship with a firm can allow them the time they need to become familiar with the marketing objectives of the organization.

  62. 62.

    If a project is to be outsourced, we find it’s usually better to outsource both the design and the production steps. It’s just human nature: a team that executes its own design has a bigger investment in the project’s success than one that only executes the designs of another.

  63. 63.

    The designer and the producer are often the same person, which can be helpful. For the designer, there’s an opportunity to design to her production strengths and, when she’s the producer, she will certainly buy into her own design.

    Sometimes, however, the producer delegates the execution to many different specialists—here, the producer might employ a social media expert, a public relations consultant, a webmaster, a layout artist, and so on. Generally, larger teams have greater bandwidth—they can produce content more quickly—but they are less efficient than smaller teams. For one thing, there’s a significant cost to maintaining accurate communication—meetings and the like—between team members. See generally, Frederick P. Brooks, Jr., The Mythical Man Month: Essays on Software Engineering (Addison-Wesley 1975), available online (last visited Feb. 5, 2015).

    For long-lived Context Materials, we’d recommend slow efficiency over quick execution. Since there’s no rush, this is one race that the tortoise can win.

  64. 64.

    See, e.g., Focus: African Union accuses ICC of racism, France 24, May 29, 2013, at 3:48, available online, (in a television interview, Elise Keppler, HRW Senior Counsel, makes a strong defense of the ICC against charges of racism).

  65. 65.

    For example, PIDS needs to answer its email. We desired information for this comment from the the Public Affairs Unit. Repeated—and increasingly urgent—inquiries to its main published email address at did not elicit a reply of any kind, ever.

  66. 66.

    The first issue of the Forum went live in September 2010. Until April 2013, the was located at the domains and Those domains still redirect to the now canonical web address.

  67. 67.

    For more information on the design of the ICC Forum, see Richard H. Steinberg, Olga Werby & Christopher Werby,—ICT and ICC OTP case study, 6 Transforming Gov’t: People, Process & Pol’y 4, 358–367 (Jun. 10, 2012), available paywall, online.

  68. 68.

    An authentic activity is one that has meaning beyond its creation. For an essay or comment, often that means writing for an audience rather than just for an instructor and a grade.

  69. 69.

    The number of those meetings which served rural members of the Affected Public is probably much less. But 35,000 individuals and 500 meetings for each of those two years serves as an upper bound. The published materials combine all audiences for these meeting—Affected Public but also Media and Organization audiences—into a single figure. Meetings were conducted in both urban and rural areas. Combined, in those five situation countries during 2011 through 2012, 983 meetings reached a total of 69,007 participants. That breaks down as follows: In the Central African Republic in 2011 and 2012, when security conditions permitted these meetings to occur, a total of 13,682 participants were reached in 256 meetings. Engaging with Communities, supra note 1, at 7. In the same two years in the Côte d’Ivoire, 114 participants were reached in 7 meetings. Id. at 9. In the same two years in the DRC, 30,581 participants were reached in 407 meetings. Id. at 14. In those years in Kenya, 9280 were reached in 151 meetings. Id. at 19. In Uganda, again in 2011–2012, 15,350 participants were reached in 162 meetings. Id. at 24.

  70. 70.

    Engaging with Communities, supra note 1, at 11. Are Figure 1’s second quadrant audience, who might have access to a radio, somehow less “affected” than Figure 1’s third quadrant audience, who don’t? We’re unaware of any information that suggests that those with access to technology were less affected by violence than those without such access. Both audiences are worthy, even if it costs much less per capita to reach the second quadrant’s Affected Public.

  71. 71.

    Query: “Population of CAR, Côte d’Ivoire, Uganda, Kenya, and the DRC, Wolfram Alpha, available online (last visited Jan. 29, 2015).

  72. 72.

    The difficulties reaching rural members of the Affected Public without using technology shouldn’t be underestimated. See Outreach Report 2010, supra note 6, at 65, 56:

    It was sometimes difficult to hold outreach activities in the interior owing to the lack of adequate means of communication (Internet and telephone). The Court staff members sometimes found it difficult to inform the local authorities and leaders of civil society about their visits and proposed activities. The authorities and leaders likewise had difficulty contacting the Outreach Unit’s staff members. As a result, the population’s involvement in the outreach activities was less than optimal. Moreover, the calendar of activities in the interior frequently had to be adjusted to take certain realities such as climate constraints into account. During the rainy season (June–November), it was difficult to ascertain how many participants would attend the outreach activities as many people do not go out in the heavy rain. Furthermore, for the rural population, the demands of the agricultural calendar are more pressing than the Court’s activities.

    In 2009–2010, the Outreach Unit intensified its campaign in CAR because of activity in the Bemba case. The Outreach plan of action for each venue involved a pyramid of sessions, six in all, beginning with one for the region’s administrative authorities, then one for the local authorities, then one for the religious authorities, then one with NGOs and civil society organizations, then one for women’s groups, and finally one for the general public.

  73. 73.

    There were at least 13 ICC Outreach employees in those five countries during 2011 and 2012. While the meetings don’t represent 100% of their time, conducting 500 meetings a year is a significant undertaking. Even if the meetings only occupied half their time and even if no time was expended by personnel not in the field, that’s 6.5 man-years of effort expended annually to reach those 35,000 people.

  74. 74.

    Engaging with Communities, supra note 1, at 4. We can get a peek at what the participants get out of the meeting by reading a positive assessment in the ICC’s Outreach Report about an event in the Central African Republic:

    The women are telling me that they are very happy today, because it is the first time that they have seen images from the trial and heard a summary in the Sango language.

  75. 75.

    See Outreach Report 2010, supra note 6, at 21. The Uganda outreach team asked a series of questions after meetings—all yes or no except for one multiple choice at the end—to measure the effectiveness of their work:

    1. Was this the first time that you heard about the ICC?
    2. Did you learn anything today that was important to you?
    3. Will you discuss what you learned here today with other people?
    4. Is there anything that you will do as a result of this meeting?
    5. Would you recommend that others come to a meeting like this?
    6. Do you understand more about how the ICC works?
    7. Are there any issues that you do not understand?
    8. Are you happy with the presence of the ICC in your country?
    9. Have you been personally affected by the types of crimes that the ICC is investigating?
    10. How do you get your information? Radio. Word of mouth. Other meeting. Newspaper. Other. TV. Poster.
  76. 76.

    Discussion, supra note 9.

  77. 77.

    It is often said that “justice should not only be done, but … be seen to be done.” R v. Sussex Justices, ex parte McCarthy, 1 KB 256 (1924); see also Strategic Plan, as quoted supra note 7. But, with rare exceptions, is the ICC currently in a position to demonstrate to the Affected Public that justice has been done for them? At best, the meetings might provide hope that justice is being done or, in the future, might be done.

  78. 78.

    See Outreach Report 2010, supra note 6, at 10. This paragraph on the ICC’s Uganda outreach efforts in 2010 is illustrative:

    Turnout to ICC sessions has decreased. […] Some may have also lost interest in the ICC process due to the lack of arrests, the lack of judicial developments in the situation, and the understanding that reparations will come only after an accused person is convicted.

  79. 79.

    See Susman-Peña et al., supra note 47, at 12:

    Information is inherently social and acquires meaning only in a social context. Information is a relationship; generating and receiving information are both creative acts. Information is an activity, not a thing; it has to move or it ceases to be of value. […] Information is a defining aspect of human relationships; thus the question of trust is critical to the study of information ecosystems. Information must move or it has no reason to exist; because it moves, it transforms as context and actors shift.

  80. 80.

    We recognize that a clear disadvantage of not communicating directly is the loss of control over the content and its presentation. Distortion, misreporting, and the instability of the news media in situation countries is a recognized problem. That’s clearly exacerbated when the Court is investigating or prosecuting leaders in the current government. But when operating within a country, can the Outreach Unit ever effectively match the communications of a government hostile to the ICC? See, e.g., these billboards in Sudan. Billboards in Sudan attacking the ICC and Luis Moreno-Ocampo, its former chief prosecutor.

  81. 81.

    Coomes, supra note 3.

  82. 82.

    As previously noted, victims and witnesses are served by the Victims and Witnesses Unit rather than the Outreach Unit. The VWU does need to have in-person contact with the people under their charge who do not have access to technology. But the activities of the VWU are not part of this discussion. See discussion, supra note 14.

  83. 83.

    Budgeting by goal rather than by activity is one way to prioritize the goals and make sure that none are short-changed because others are expensive to achieve.

  84. 84.

    We specifically exclude field outreach with Media and Organizations from this comment. It is useful for the ICC to meet with the media, government officials, and NGOs; train law students, political scientists, and journalists; and develop curricula for academic institutions in situation countries. Acting indirectly through the Media and Organizations, the ICC can efficiently reach members of the Affected Public and advance the ICC’s outreach goals.

  85. 85.

    This is the audience depicted in Figure 1’s first quadrant.

  86. 86.

    See International Criminal Court, Report on activities and programme performance of the International Criminal Court for the year 2013, ICC-ASP/13/19 (May 27, 2014), at 27, available online.

  87. 87.

    The ICC has already produced videos that would be appropriate for use on its Website. See, e.g., discussion, supra note 59. Technically, it’s trivial to embed a YouTube video on a webpage. Adding video would improve the richness of information presented on the webpage; more people would see the video; and, since the video has already been produced and approved, it would cost the ICC almost nothing. Since it would plainly be a marked improvement, why are there so few videos on the ICC’s Website?

    This is such an obvious idea that it has certainly occurred to people within the ICC. But large organizations are divided into units that each have an interest in a shared resource like a website. Afraid of losing some of their authority over the parts they control, they engage in turf battles. Implementing change requires that someone push against the entrenched bureaucracy of these various units. Without that effort, even if there is general agreement about the insufficiency of the Website, the status quo will be maintained.

  88. 88.

    Outreach in Democratic Republic of the Congo, Int’l Crim. Ct., available online, archived (last visited Feb. 8, 2015).

    There are other examples on the website, e.g., Outreach in Uganda, Int’l Crim. Ct., available online, archived (last visited Feb. 8, 2015):

    Outreach activities will focus, during 2008, on strengthening existing programmes and partnerships and creating new ones (especially to reach the youth and Women) …

    See also, e.g., Timeline, Int’l Crim. Ct., available online, archived (last visited Feb. 8, 2015), (the ICC timeline in its educational resources section, which ends at 2012, as if the Court had no significant events in 2013 or 2014).

    See also, e.g., Publications: Outreach—Democratic Republic of the Congo, Int’l Crim. Ct., available online, archived (last visited Feb. 8, 2015), (the list of DRC Outreach publications that begins and ends with documents produced on one day, the 12th of January 2007).

    See also, e.g., ICC Weekly Update, Int’l Crim. Ct., available online, archived (last visited Feb. 8, 2015), (as of our last visit, almost three months are missing. The last weekly update is #228 dated November 17, 2014).

  89. 89.

    The ICC Website manages a large number of documents. But it doesn’t compare to a site like YouTube that manages at least several hundred million videos. Cf. YouTube Statistics, YouTube, available online (last visited Jan. 30, 2015). The YouTube URL here (hover to view) points to a single video out of all those millions and is only 27 characters in length. Compare it to an ICC Website URL here (hover to view) at 98 characters. Many of the ICC’s URLs are even longer than that. See discussion, infra note 91 (a 137-character URL which points to the OTP main page).

    For just a few examples of the problems caused by very long URLs: they can’t be transmitted through non-digital communication, they are almost impossible to write down accurately, they are easily garbled; they would be very difficult to manually type into a web browser, they are too long to fit on a single line in a citation (URLs can’t be hyphenated); they frequently break when sent via email and the link wraps; they can’t be easily read and understood by humans; and so on.

    The ICC Website contains a form that victims are to use to apply for reparations. Imagine you were on the radio talking to the Affected Public, and you wanted to communicate this 95-character link (hover to view) over the air so that your listeners could access the form. It’s almost impossible.

  90. 90.

    Improper characters in URLs include spaces, each of which must be replaced by the encoded string ‘%20’, decreasing the human readability of the URL and making it difficult to cite. As an example, a press release URL looks like this link (hover to view). If the spaces were just replaced with underscores as shown in this link (hover to view), the URL would be much more readable (and six characters shorter).

  91. 91.

    About 2012, many URLs on the ICC Website were actually lengthened and became more unwieldy and unreadable. For example, the URL for the OTP’s main page used to be this 81-character link (hover to view). It was changed to this 137-character link (hover to view).

    When a website changes its URL scheme, best practice calls for redirects to be implemented on the server so that users following an old link will automatically be rerouted to the document’s new location. If the ICC had done this, old links would still work properly. But the ICC didn’t. So, across the Internet, everyone’s links to the content of the ICC’s Website silently broke. Among techies, changing the URL scheme without redirecting old links is derisively referred to as “breaking the web.” In December 2012, at the ICC Forum, we noticed the broken links problem. To fix it, we needed to locate every link on the Forum pointing to the ICC and then, for each link, we needed to do research to find the new URL and use that to replace the old one. Of course, many websites didn’t notice that their links to the ICC’s Website were broken, or they chose not to spend the money and time to fix them. Those links now fail. See discussion, infra note 93 (examples of web links from well-known organizations to the ICC that fail).

  92. 92.

    “Link rot” is the term used when links no longer refer to the original reference. There’s really no good excuse for this. See Tim Berners-Lee, Cool URIs Don’t Change, W3C (1998), available online.

  93. 93.

    “Breaking the web” is a serious problem, especially for an organization that sees itself as a primary archive and resource for international criminal law. Included below are a few well-known organizations—among thousands—hosting links to the ICC’s Website that now fail: the United Nations, the New York Times, the Harvard Law Review, Human Rights Watch, the International Bar Association, the American Society of International Law, the Journal of International Criminal Justice, the Court’s own decisions, the ICC’s own YouTube channel, and the Coalition for the International Criminal Court.

    For examples of broken links, most of which result in a “page not found” error, see Northern Uganda: Major Steps Towards Peace in a Decades-Old Conflict, in 10 Stories the World should hear more about, UN (2007), available online (last visited Feb. 2. 2015). See also Annissa Hambouz & Javaid Khan, Stop the Fighting and Start Uniting, N.Y. Times, May 3, 2006, available online, (a link to the “About” page on the ICC Website fails). See also Laser Beam or Blunderbuss, 120 Harv. L. Rev. 1848 (May 1, 2007) at 1848 n.1, available online. See also Admissibility of Cases before the ICC in A Summary of the Case Law of the International Criminal Court, (HRW, Mar. 2007) available online. See also The International Criminal Court (ICC), Int’l Bar Assoc., available online (last visited Feb. 2, 2015) (the first link on the page, to the Rome Statute on the ICC’s site, is broken, together with most of the other links on the page). See also Anja Seibert-Fohr, The Crime of Aggression: Adding a Definition to the Rome Statute of the ICC, 12 ASIL Insights 24 (Nov. 18, 2008), at nn.1,3,9, available online. See also Paola Gaeta, Is the Practice of ‘Self-Referrals’ a Sound Start for the ICC? 2 J. Int’l Crim. Just. 949–952, (2004) available online. See also Situation in the Republic of Kenya, Case No. ICC-01/09 Decision Pursuant to Article 15 of the Rome Statute on the Authorization of an Investigation into the Situation in the Republic of Kenya (Int’l Crim. Ct., Mar. 31, 2010) (Hans-Peter Kaul, dissenting), at 8 n.8, available online (this is one of the Court’s own documents where internal links to other Court documents fail). See also Outreach Video, supra note 59 (this is on the Court’s own YouTube channel, where the link back to its own website is broken). See also Communications and Outreach, Coalition for the Int’l Crim. Ct., available online (last visited Jan. 28, 2015) (links to the pre-2010 documents are broken).

  94. 94.

    In a draft document about the ICC Website court records management system, there are two proposals to “retire” documents relating to closed cases after seven years and move them—either entirely offline or, if online, to a separate site collection linked from the ICC website. Armin Taslaman, ICC Website Court Records Management System, Draft Paper (Sep. 14, 2014), available online, archived. The online version of the proposal sounds like it would break all the existing links to these documents, which is pretty bad (see discussion, supra note 91 and 93). But the offline version is even more draconian:

    An offline site would be created. The site would be accessible only from within the Library and Research Centre. The site would reside on the ICC Intranet […] There would be a specific section of the website created to promote and explain the historical site. The section would feature the request form to visit the site.

    While technical issues exist in maintaining a large and growing archive of materials, there are technical solutions that don’t involve breaking web links to historical documents. It should be clear that moving documents to offline repositories or otherwise breaking existing web links to those documents is antithetical to the ICC’s stated goals of being both an archive and a central resource for international criminal law. For a modern international organization, it is a shockingly retrograde idea to take documents currently online and available to the entire world, and make them accessible only to those who physically visit a library in the Hague.

  95. 95.

    Content is contained in an external file, like a PDF; or is represented in fields in a database, like text on a page; or both. A piece of external content—often a PDF file, a video, or an image—has a database representation with fields for metadata such as title, date created, date uploaded, location, access restrictions, and so on. When displayed on a website, that metadata information is used to create informative links to that content on an appropriate webpage and, perhaps, enforce access restrictions. Text destined for a webpage—like a blog post—is also often stored in a database and then wrapped in a template’s presentation elements when delivered to the user.

  96. 96.

    We don’t have inside information from the ICC about their technology choices. But, by examining the Website externally, the CMS looks to be a commercial program called iAPPS, a product of Bridgeline Digital, written in C#, employing a server-side web application framework called ASP.NET, deployed on a Microsoft Windows Server, and using MSSQL for the database backend technology.

  97. 97.

    Once the content is free from presentational elements, then the presentation of that content is much easier to update. CSS Zen Garden is an inspirational testament to the power that the separation of content from presentation can bring to a website. It uses a single page of HTML markup—the semantic content—and applies to that markup a wide variety of stylesheets created by different designers—the presentation styles. The result demonstrates many wildly different presentations of identical content. When content is separated from presentation, it is much easier to maintain and update.

  98. 98.

    See Separation of Concerns, Wikipedia, available online (last visited Jan. 28, 2015).

  99. 99.

    Web standards are promulgated through the W3C, an organization founded by Sir Tim Berners-Lee after he left CERN in 1994.

  100. 100.

    As an example, click here to validate the Website’s English language home page. When last checked on January 28, 2015, there were more than 100 errors on this page.

  101. 101.

    See Responsive Web Design, Wikipedia, available online (last visited Jan. 28, 2015).

    As an example, the ICC Forum uses responsive design principles to adapt to a wide variety of screen-sizes. The website isn’t just scaled down to fit on small screens. Rather, the presentation is changed by rearranging, removing, and resizing individual elements as appropriate, to give a good experience to users on mobile devices as well as desktops and laptops.

    ICC Forum shown on a variety of devices of different widths.

    The layout shifts can be easily seen on a desktop or laptop computer by grabbing the edge of the browser window, adjusting the width, and watching the page change while making the window narrower or wider.

  102. 102.

    Even for fixed width websites, this is very narrow. Fifteen years ago, many sites were designed to work in monitors that were 800×600 pixels. But now, the standard is to design for a minimum monitor size of 1024×768 pixels. According to one source, currently 1% or less of users are on desktop monitors that are 800×600 pixels or smaller. Web Statistics and Trends, w3schools, available online, archived (last visited Feb. 8, 2015). Browser statistics need to be taken with a grain of salt, however, because each site attracts a very different audience with a different mix of characteristics. But even if a greater percentage of the ICC’s audience are still on low resolution monitors, a responsive site would accommodate their narrow screens by changing the site’s layout to fit the width of their browsers.

  103. 103. ICC Website scales on a mobile phone but doesn’t adjust to provide a better user experience.

    The ICC Website shrinks down to fit on a mobile phone but doesn't adjust its presentation for the small device. Tiny navigation targets and even tinier print are daunting obstacles to mobile users.

    Mobile devices, including smart phones and tablets, are increasingly used to access websites. The percentage of users on mobile devices is sharply increasing over time, especially in Africa and the rest of the developing world. See Mobile Internet Usage Soars by 67%, StatCounter, Sep. 18, 2014, available online. A current review of the ICC’s Website browser statistics will underrepresent mobile usage. While each website attracts a different mix of desktop to mobile users, websites that are optimized for mobile usage attract a greater share of users on mobile devices. Put simply, a better mobile experience encourages people on mobile devices to use the site.

  104. 104.

    Discussion, supra note 101. Images and logos are also fuzzy on higher resolution devices.

  105. 105.

    See, e.g., Rome Statute Webpage, supra note 49.

  106. 106.

    Sudan President Bashir hails ‘victory’ over ICC charges, BBC News, Dec. 13, 2014, available online.

  107. 107.

    Kenyan president says he is ‘vindicated’ after ICC drops charges, The Telegraph, Dec. 5, 2014, available online.

  108. 108.

    Kate Williams, African Union accuses ICC of racism, France 24, May 29, 2013, available online.

  109. 109.

    African Union, Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Oct. 11, 2013, available online.

  110. 110.

    AFP, Museveni calls for mass pull-out of African states from International Criminal Court, Daily Nation, Dec. 12, 2014, available online.

  111. 111.

    See Mark S. Ellis, International justice: The world vs. Robert Mugabe, N.Y. Times, Apr. 2, 2004, available online, (when he wrote this article, Mark Ellis was the executive director of the International Bar Association). See also Crimes against humanity: What international bodies can, and cannot, do about Zimbabwe, The Economist, Jun. 26, 2008, available online.

  112. 112.

    See Mugabe tells Kenyatta to skip ICC trial—report, News24, Oct. 15, 2013, available online; see also Mugabe takes aim at ICC, IOL, Sep. 23, 2011, available online.

  113. 113.

    Murigi Macharia, Kenya: Africa Must Pull Out of the ICC, Says New AU Chairman, Robert Mugabe, All Africa, Jan. 31, 2015, available online.

  114. Suggested Citation for this Comment:

    Christopher Werby & Olga Werby, Practical Strategies for ICC Outreach, ICC Forum (Feb. 17, 2015), available at

    Suggested Citation for this Issue Generally:

    How can the ICC Improve its Outreach Efforts?, ICC Forum (Feb. 17, 2015), available at