The Hidden Costs of Strategic Communications for the International Criminal Court

40 Pages Posted: 9 Jan 2016 Last revised: 20 Apr 2017

See all articles by Megan Fairlie

Megan Fairlie

Florida International University (FIU) - College of Law

Date Written: January 7, 2016


In little more than a decade, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has received nearly 11,000 requests for its Prosecutor to conduct atrocity investigations around the globe. To date, no such communication has resulted in an official investigation. Nevertheless, the act of publicizing these investigation requests has proven to be an effective, attention-getting tool that can achieve valuable, alternative goals. This fact explains the increasing popularity of “strategic communications” — highly publicized investigation requests aimed not at securing any ICC-related activity, but at obtaining some non-Court related advantage. This Article, which is the first to identify this trend, explains why the international legal community has accepted the instrumental use of the ICC’s communication process with little reflection. It demonstrates why this tolerance is unwise by identifying the potential costs of strategic communications. It then establishes the significance of these concerns by illustrating the specific costs created by the most widely-publicized communication to date: the call for the ICC Prosecutor to investigate Pope Benedict XVI “for rape and other forms of sexual violence as crimes against humanity.”

The goal of this article is to encourage the international legal community to revisit its unexamined acceptance of strategic communications. This can lead to a debate that, at a minimum, should prompt Court supporters — specifically civil society members — to think carefully before engaging in conduct that creates dangerous consequences for the ICC.

Keywords: ICC, International Criminal Court, Article 15, Pope, Crimes Against Humanity, NGOs

Suggested Citation

Fairlie, Megan, The Hidden Costs of Strategic Communications for the International Criminal Court (January 7, 2016). 51 Texas International Law Journal 281 (2016), Available at SSRN:

Megan Fairlie (Contact Author)

Florida International University (FIU) - College of Law ( email )

11200 SW 8th St.
RDB Hall 1097
Miami, FL 33199
United States

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