Study Guide: Using This Guide

The purpose of this online study guide is to help students learn about dilemmas of international justice through exploring the creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC). These materials have been designed to be used with three film modules based on the feature-length documentary The Reckoning: The Battle for the International Criminal Court by Skylight Pictures. Each module focuses on a specific theme and content area.

Students from middle school to graduate school can engage with these films. Recognizing the uniqueness of each classroom context, we have developed flexible Viewing Guides for each module. Viewing Guides include the following parts:

  • Background: The information in this section provides basic context for the material students will see in the modules.
  • Viewing Guide Questions: These sets of questions explore each module’s specific content, as well as the larger themes that the module addresses. The questions on these viewing guides can be used to facilitate large and small group discussions, prompt reflective writing, develop projects, and evaluate student understanding.
  • Documents: Six readings, two for each module, have been selected to illuminate different perspectives and to deepen students’ understanding of key themes, such as justice and sovereignty. Each is framed by an introduction and followed by Connections questions.
  • Lesson Ideas: We suggest a variety of classroom activities to support students’ exploration of the films and the documents. In addition to lesson ideas relevant to each module, we have alsodeveloped a pre-viewing lesson idea, designed to prepare students to engage with this material, and a post-viewing lesson idea, which includes assessment and extension activity suggestions.

Additionally, at the back of this study guide you will find additional materials we have developed to support students’ work with this material:

  • International Justice Glossary: This glossary includes key ideas and terms mentioned in the film and can be a helpful resource to students before or after they view the modules or while reading the documents.
  • Key Groups and People: This glossary includes brief biographies and descriptions of key players.
  • Timeline: The timeline places the creation of the ICC in historical context and provides links directing students to more information about key moments in the history of international criminal justice.

Educators will use these materials differently. If time is limited, some classrooms might view one module and focus on one or two questions from the related viewing guide. Other teachers might use many of these materials as the backbone of an entire unit focused on the theme of justice. Regardless of how much time students will spend exploring these materials, we recommend a similar journey:

  1. Pre-Viewing The Reckoning: Before learning about the particulars of the International Criminal Court, we hope all students have the opportunity to reflect on the meaning of justice and the role of courts, in general. This “Pre-Viewing" section suggests several ways you can prepare students to view the modules.
  2. Watching The Reckoning film modules: Facing History has worked with Skylight Pictures to produce three film modules that can be viewed on their own or as a series. Whether students view one module or all three, we hope they have the opportunity to deeply consider the dilemmas that emerge as the ICC begins to investigate and prosecute crimes. According to an ICC staff member interviewed in the film, “Justice is easier said than done,” and we want this message—the complexity of pursuing justice on an international scale—to come through for students. Viewing guide questions help highlight this complexity by illuminating different perspectives related to international justice. The ideas in these viewing guides are meant to complement, not replace, the questions raised by students themselves as they watch the modules. After exposure to new material, the best questions are often the simplest: What have you just seen? What ideas strike you as important or interesting? What questions does this material raise for you? What perspectives were represented? Which perspectives were left out or de-emphasized?
    • To help students record notes as they view the film, design a graphic organizer. Students can use their notes to address one or more of the questions on the viewing guide.
    • To give students the opportunity to process this material in writing, pause the film at important moments and ask students to record ideas, questions, and reactions in a journal. You could also use a specific viewing question to structure students’ journal writing. See our teaching strategy Journals in a Facing History Classroom for more specific ideas about how to structure writing opportunities for students.
    • To structure discussions about ideas in the films, use the think-pair-share or the fishbowl teaching strategies. Both of these discussion formats help students focus on both sharing their ideas and listening to the ideas of others. Or, you could have small groups of students facilitate their own discussions, possibly drawing from one of the viewing guide questions.
  3. Deepening understanding through post-viewing activities: Listening to students’ reactions to the film—noting their interests, questions, and misconceptions—should inform your decisions about which activities or questions you will explore next. We have provided several resources, such as supplementary documents and lesson ideas that can help you construct the most appropriate journey for your particular students.
  4. Evaluating students’ understanding: Students reveal their mastery of material through the questions they ask and the comments they share. Writing assignments and projects provide another way for students to demonstrate and deepen their understanding of this material. The lesson idea The Reckoning: Extensions and Assessments provides specific examples of assignments and activities that can be used to evaluate students’ understanding of key ideas and themes related to international justice.

Begin with the Pre-Viewing Lesson Ideas or continue to Module 1: Law or War: The Creation of the International Criminal Court.


  • International Criminal Court : The International Criminal Court is a permanent, independent judicial body established in 2002. The court prosecutes individuals for crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide. It is headquartered in The Hague, The Netherlands.
  • prosecute : To prosecute is to bring legal charges against a person. The Office of the Prosecutor includes investigators, who determine if there is sufficient evidence to change someone with a crime, and lawyers, who bring the case to trial. At the International Criminal Court, the prosecutor is the person who decides if the ICC can take a case. If so, the prosecutor leads the legal investigation of this case. If sufficient evidence is found, the prosecutor asks the judges to issue a formal indictment.
  • sovereignty : Freedom from external control, usually referring to a nation or state being able to control its own affairs. National governments claim to have sovereignty—the authority to create and enforce laws—within their own borders without foreign interference.

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