The International Criminal Court (ICC) faces a significant challenge in effectively engaging with the situation in Bangladesh and Myanmar. The ICC Registry’s reports highlight a stark contrast between its public affairs-focused strategies and the complex realities on the ground, involving diverse priorities, insecurity, and intricate interactions among communities, organisations, and states.

Communication challenges

Effective communication and outreach are crucial for the ICC to disseminate information, build support, and ensure legitimate and safe trials. Researchers have identified key lessons for conducting effective communications, which the ICC has incorporated into its strategies. However, there remains a persistent disconnect between the ICC and the various actors involved in the pre-trial Bangladesh/Myanmar situation, exacerbated by resource limits and a continued reliance on mostly online forms of communication about the Court’s activities.

Two worlds

The ICC operates in two distinct realms: one characterised by managerial and public affairs efforts, and the other by the complex, multifaceted realities of the affected regions. This duality poses significant challenges in bridging the gap between institutional strategies and on-the-ground needs and experiences, both inside Myanmar and for refugees in Bangladesh and India.

Integration and engagement

The article argues that the ICC’s failure to integrate its own experiences and strategies for two-way communication hampers its ability to meet its objectives. Effective engagement with other actors, including local communities, organisations, and states, is essential for the ICC to fulfill its mandate. Without addressing this disconnect, the ICC risks undermining its legitimacy and effectiveness in the region. As the ICC attempts to “get closer” to victims and survivors, it can do so to learn, respond and integrate, ideally through more consistent physical presence, rather than focusing on explaining its benefits and limits.


To improve its impact and fulfill its purposes, the ICC, supported by its member states, must enhance its communication and outreach efforts, ensuring they are inclusive, context-sensitive, and responsive to the realities of the affected regions. By addressing these challenges, the ICC can better support justice and accountability in Bangladesh and Myanmar.


Dr Emma Palmer is a Senior Lecturer in the Griffith Law School and member of the Griffith Asia Institute.

This article is a synopsis of the journal article “Disconnect: The International Criminal Court’s Engagement in the Situation in Bangladesh/Myanmar” published in the International Criminal Law Review.