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The Media as Participants in the International Legal Process

33 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2006  

Monica Hakimi

University of Michigan Law School


This Article addresses an important gap in traditional understandings of the international legal process. International law scholarship focuses almost exclusively on the activities of States, international organizations, and, in more recent times, nongovernmental organizations. Focusing on these actors alone, however, obscures the complexity of the international legal process, by ignoring not only the plethora of informal and unorganized components, but also (and more importantly) the ways in which these different and diverse entities communicate (or fail to communicate). Because institutionalized mechanisms of communication are poorly developed in the international system, legal communications often occur informally, and often through the open lines of the media. Yet the media do not simply communicate raw information; they selectively filter and give shape to the events that they cover, thereby helping to define the global reality. In this way, the media have significant influence over the content of legally relevant communications, and over the development, crystallization and application of international legal norms. This Article examines that influence, demonstrating that the media participate in critical, albeit imperfect ways, in the international legal process and that this role is likely only to expand in the future. Unless scholars and practitioners more fully understand and come to terms with the roles of the media as an international legal actor, they will continue to overlook an essential element of the international legal process and thus will be limited in their ability to operate within that process to achieve desirable legal and policy outcomes.

Keywords: International law, Media, International Legal Process

JEL Classification: K33, L82

Suggested Citation

Hakimi, Monica, The Media as Participants in the International Legal Process. Duke Journal of Comparative & International Law, Vol. 16, No. 1, 2006. Available at SSRN:

Monica Hakimi (Contact Author)

University of Michigan Law School ( email )

625 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215
United States

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