Start a Local Alliance

Alliances may be large or small, organized by county, city, state, or region. The general purposes of an alliance are to inform and arouse local public opinion so as to focus it consistently on the need for and importance of close cooperation and support by the United States for the ICC, and the earliest possible American ratification of its Rome Statute. Fulfilling these objectives will take a continuous effort over time. This effort will be sustained by historic and dramatic events including the Court's full operation and first cases. These events will focus and maintain interest and reward commitment. The ICC is a dramatic, dynamic cause and institution that will constantly reinforce and encourage supporters with new and exciting developments both in general and about their particular concerns and issues. This will happen whether or not the United States has joined the Court.




Creating an alliance requires a committed founder or founders backed by an organization. Organizational support is necessary because the resources, credibility and local connections of a support organization are usually essential to a founder. Moreover, alliances made up primarily of committed organizations and groups will have the capacity to carry out the sustained effort needed for this long-term endeavor. Inevitably, of course, alliances will usually begin with persons who know each other. However, they must make the work of the alliance important enough in the life of their organizations that these will remain active in it after their original representatives move on. This applies especially to the founder and his/her organization.




Founders start by identifying potential alliance members. They will have a large pool of prospects because the Court attracts groups and individuals with many and diverse interests that they believe the ICC will uniquely serve and promote. Local affiliates of AMICC members are prime prospects. The AMICC secretariat can often also help in finding potential members by coming to the area for public events, media activities, private meetings with small groups, classes at schools, colleges and universities and whatever else will assist the founder to raise local knowledge of and interest in the ICC. Once there are enough seriously interested potential members, the founder holds an organizational meeting. Founders often ask a member of the AMICC secretariat to return to attend this meeting as a resource and a focus for it.


In recruiting members, as in all of an alliance's activities, it is essential to make the most of the diversity of people, political and social views and organizations the ICC attracts. A great weakness of campaigns in the United States comparable to the ICC effort is their tendency to rely too heavily on persons and groups sharing one set of social and political views. Administration policy will not be changed nor the Rome Statute ratified by the United States without substantial support from conservatives. They need to hear from sources sympathetic to them that, at its center, the ICC is not a liberal/conservative issue, but is about accountability for crimes that all alike loathe: genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.



The organizational meeting also sets in place the first activities and priorities for the new alliance. AMICC strongly recommends that these include: Integration of the ICC into the regular and continuing programs and activities of alliance members, special ICC events organized collectively by alliance members, pro-ICC resolutions by organizations and units of government, polling, regular and constant contact with state legislators, congresspersons, senators and their local offices; and continuous work and contacts with the media, schools, and institutions of higher learning.


Each of these is described briefly below. Except for polling, a common theme among all of these activities is the need for a constant, persistent effort. This will be easier than in many other comparable campaigns because of the frequent and compelling events and developments that, as already described, the first years of the Court will regularly offer.



Since alliance members have joined because they believe that the ICC will powerfully advance the issues to which they are committed, promotion of the Court should fit easily into their regular and ongoing programs. However, they may need to be reminded to do this and an alliance leader may have to show them how the Court is relevant to a particular program.


In particular, keep in mind that the ICC is concerned not only with specific crimes, but also with values, moral concepts, principles and social objectives which are very widely shared in our society. Some examples are justice, sin, evil, the rule of law, post-conflict rebuilding of societies and nations, and moral recompense to victims and survivors. (The AMICC secretariat will be happy to support alliance leaders about members' programs generally and specifically in developing materials on the ICC's relevance to a particular issue or occasion).


An alliance leader should maintain a digital list of the members' initiatives and events, keep it current, and use it to encourage members to back up and participate in each other's activities. This information should also be forwarded to the AMICC secretariat so that it can be included on the AMICC website and social media. This kind of mutual support among members with otherwise divergent interests can provide significant benefits for members and assist member recruitment.



Resolutions supporting the ICC by any group or political unit provide valuable education, commitment and publicity about the Court. Not only do participants in the debate on the resolution necessarily learn a lot about the ICC, but also the organization or body adopting the resolution is likely to feel it has a stake in the Court.

When a political unit - village, county, city or state legislature - adopts, there is usually the added benefit of media coverage. Adoption by smaller political units can build toward adoption by larger ones. Thus borough councils can lead to a city council; villages can influence counties, counties and cities can sway a state legislature; and local bar associations can persuade the state bar. Resolutions and their accompanying media coverage are also highly persuasive with Members of Congress and Senators.




From this initial support and cooperation, alliance members can progress to collective development of special ICC events. One significant occasion for coordinated local events is July 17 - the anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute and July 1 - the anniversary of the start of the jurisdiction of the Court. The secretariat can suggest and will encourage other celebrations and commemorations.



National polls show that 72% of respondents agreed that the United States should support and participate in the Rome Statute.

Unfortunately, the support these national polls show is broad but shallow - it does not have much influence on the way people vote. Turning this support into the focused and aroused public opinion leading to political action is the work of AMICC and the local alliances.

Another problem is that Members of Congress and Senators say: "Maybe people respond this way in national polls, but not in my district/state." Thus local polls are essential for local action. Paid polls are expensive, but other options are a company or organization that is willing to insert an ICC question in a poll it is already doing and college or university social science or political science departments that do polls as student exercises. Alliances should consider including our current version of the 1999 and 2000 questions in their polls to provide continuity and compatibility, along with additional, perhaps locally oriented, questions.

A big dividend about polls is that for the local media, the poll itself may be news and coverage of it can lead to articles about the ICC and local support for it.



All of the foregoing activities are important to influencing legislators. These undertakings should be used to promote regular, consistent and cumulative contacts with Members of Congress and Senators and their staff members. Such contacts should be with the state and district offices and with the legislators personally in their visits home. In addition to meetings specifically on the ICC, it is indispensable for alliance members to include the Court in their appeals to legislators on their own issues, thus emphasizing that the ICC is important to their organizations' particular individual concerns and objectives. District and state staffers should come to understand that the ICC is a local issue important to numerous and influential constituents, not a remote foreign policy issue "for the Washington office." Members of Congress and Senators should also find that the ICC is raised with them in almost every general public appearance they make, including town hall meetings.



The Court is an important and compelling cause for students and young adults. Government delegates, experts, non-governmental organization representatives and United Nations officials under age 35 were at the center of the negotiations for the Court. General public audiences for ICC presentations are predominantly young. The members of this generation, even those who know only a little about the Court, react to the ICC as something of their own which belongs to their present and future. The more sophisticated recognize it as an instrument their contemporaries did much to create. They will use it in their time of power and responsibility against the kind of atrocities an older generation in its era tried to ignore until too late. Young adults also generally respond to the drama and power of trials and courtroom scenes that they will be able to see on television.

Alliances should reach out to inform and educate, and make full use of, young adults and students. In AMICC's experience teachers and professors want lectures and discussions on the ICC for classes in law, political and social science and international relations. Campus groups on these subjects will put on events on the ICC. Students will seek internships on the ICC and will volunteer their time to support alliance activities.


The Council for American Students in International Negotiations (CASIN) (formerly the Independent Student Coalition for the ICC), an AMICC member, has members who are undergraduate, graduate, post-graduate and law school students at colleges and universities across the United States, as well as young professionals. It has nationwide activities such as conferences, advocacy, and student delegations to meetings of the Court's Assembly of States Parties. The International Criminal Court Student Network (ICCSN) is also developing chapters on campuses in the United States.


In addition to the access they provide to students, college and university faculty members are important resources and participants for alliances. Political leaders, legislators and audiences are often especially pleased and impressed by local expertise on the ICC. Academics can be a quick and persuasive source for the media. Senior faculty members often have access to public and private sector leadership and influence on local politics. AMICC can help alliances when local academics want to reach their counterparts elsewhere or find ICC expertise for their courses and events.



The ICC developments and milestones mentioned above, which provide occasions for local events, and those events themselves, are also news hooks for media. Alliance members are likely already to have contacts with journalists, editorial boards and broadcast producers and their own media outreach campaigns. The ICC should be incorporated into these. Specialized journalists in such topics as religion, politics and social issues should be made to understand the relevance of the ICC to these issues.

Ignorance of the ICC in editorial boards and their consequent vulnerability to anti-ICC propaganda has been a widespread problem. It is important to make sure that they have basic, easy-to-use ICC materials, and information on websites and other sources for rapid answers to questions. Some alliance leaders have used visits with the AMICC secretariat to editorial boards as a way to begin promoting your alliance as an ICC resource for them.

In all media contacts it is important to convey that the ICC is important to local organizations and persons because of its service to issues they care about or to which they are committed.

© 2017 AMICC All Rights Reserved. A Program of Columbia University Institute for the Study of Human Rights.

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