Christine Schwobel, IGLP alumni and Lecturer in Law at the University of Liverpool is please to share her recent publication, “The Comfort of International Criminal Law”


This paper examines the changing relationship between the disciplines of international criminal law (ICL) and international human rights law; I particularly focus on the associations of the former with comfort and the latter with discomfort. It appears that a shift may be taking place in that ICL is being refashioned from a field enforcing human rights law to one which has assumed an entirely independent status. Indeed, ICL appears to be crowding out international human rights law. The inquiry begins with the question whether ICL is becoming the preferred discursive framework for practitioners, academics, and politicians. A contemporary desire for certainty over contention, action over discourse, and simplicity over complexity is revealed; in short, a preference for comfort over discomfort. The second half of the paper is dedicated to highlighting some of the concerns attached to this preference and suggesting possible techniques for addressing these concerns. Employing the idea of ‘discomfort’, I refer to the relevance of (1) Michel Foucault’s Ethics of Discomfort, (2) Judith Butler’s idea of the Language of Discomfort, and (3) draw on Franz Kafka’s literary exploration of the Comfort in Discomfort. The ideas culminate in a call for relearning the comfort in discomfort of contention, discourse and complexity in international law.

Click HERE to read the article