This article discusses to what extent Nils Christie's famous stereotype of the 'ideal victim' is applicable in a context of international crimes. It argues that the characteristics of the ideal victim of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes largely overlap with the ideal victim of conventional crimes. Nevertheless, victims of international crimes face much more difficulty in publicizing their fate and consequently 'benefiting' from their status as victim. It is only when potential status givers are aware of the victims' existence that the victim status can be granted. It is argued that, to grasp international media attention, particular attributes of a conflict should also be present: the conflict should be comprehensible, have a unique selling point, have a limited time span and be well-'timed'. Whether such media attention materializes in actions by international politicians or private humanitarian organizations depends on domestic policies, geopolitical interests, accessibility to the region and the possibility of donors identifying with the victims. © The Author(s) 2013.