Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law

Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law

The Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law in Freiburg adopts an interdisciplinary approach that combines criminal law and criminology in the interests of advancing criminal law theory and its application as a form of social control. The Department of Criminal Law therefore studies the theory of criminal law and bases its analyses primarily on a normative and comparative approach. The Department of Criminology uses both empirical, as well as theoretical methods to shed light on the causes and forms of criminality and the options for social control. Issues common to both departments include risk, hazard and prevention, globalization, internationalization and networking, and the information society and information technology.


Günterstalstr. 73
79100 Freiburg
Phone: +49 761 7081-0
Fax: +49 761 7081-294

PhD opportunities

This institute has an International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS):
IMPRS for Comparative Criminal Law

In addition, there is the possibility of individual doctoral research. Please contact the directors or research group leaders at the Institute.

Fact check: Juvenile crime
Despite being widely perceived as a threat, today’s teenagers are more law-abiding than previous generations. It is therefore worth looking at the facts and figures behind the headlines. more
Research highlights from the Yearbook
Our Yearbook 2016 showcases the research carried out at the Max Planck Institutes. We selected a few reports to illustrate the variety and diversity of topics and projects. more
Yearbook article 2016, Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law, Freiburg
Author: Carl-Wendelin Neubert more
No such thing as a typical criminal career
Freiburg study questions established criminological theories more
Building blocks for a new life<br />

Building blocks for a new life

December 15, 2010
Individual social therapy can help reduce the risk of relapse among sex offenders. more
Expert Meeting on Multinational Law Enforcement & Sea Piracy more
Time and again, young people in Europe’s cities are taking to the streets to battle with the police, as happened this summer in Great Britain. Most of these riots have one trigger, but multiple causes. One of the factors can be the way in which the police treat young people. To delve a little deeper, Dietrich Oberwittler and Daniela Hunold at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law in Freiburg are comparing circumstances in Germany and France. Their results are surprising.
For the past decade, individuals, too, can be summoned to
The Hague – chosen after World War I as the seat of the
International Court of Justice – to be called to account for
international crimes.
Youth violence directed at those who are different or foreign has many root causes, and can hardly be combated with draconian punishment.
Criminologist Dirk Pehl analyzes the practice and success of this investigation method. According to his findings, it is worthwhile only in preparing large-scale DNA tests.
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Treatment, reentry, and risk of reoffending: Sex offenders in the social therapeutic institutions in the Free State of Saxony

2017 Wößner, Gunda; Albrecht, Hans-Jörg
Jurisprudence Social and Behavioural Sciences
A project at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law evaluates the treatment of sexual offenders in Saxony’s social therapeutic institutions through an analysis of the causes and rates of criminal relapse amongst sexual offenders, including an assessment of criminogenic factors, therapeutic measures, and the climate in the correctional facilities. In addition, the study analyses the life-courses of sex offenders after prison release and the recidivism influencing factors within the reentry process. more

What are the legal boundaries for combating terrorist threats and asymmetrical warfare in international operations for German armed forces? What are the consequences for systems of international security? A study at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law analyzes the prerequisites for and limits on the extraterritorial use of lethal force on the basis of public international law and German constitutional law.


Based on rich empirical data, the research project POLIS investigated the daily interactions and perceptions of police and adolescents in two German resp. French cities in which half of the youth population is from migrant families. The relationship between police and adolescents is less tense in Germany which can be attributed to a police strategy geared to local communities and employing police officers’ communication skills.


Economic crime prevention

2014 Sieber, Ulrich; Engelhart, Marc

Do compliance programs actually function as a new “second track” for the prevention of corporate crime? Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law analyze the recent compliance development and the effectiveness of various criminal policy strategies in Germany. Their study suggests new concepts for prevention that combine a reformed economic criminal law with a system that encompasses state-private co-regulation.


Studies on security in Germany

2013 Haverkamp, Rita; Hummelsheim, Dina; Armborst, Andreas
Jurisprudence Social and Behavioural Sciences
An interdisciplinary research project headed by the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law is currently investigating the topic of “security” through several different research methods. First results show that respondents are worried about different areas of security on a personal and societal level. In addition to subjective-experienced feelings of security, the project also addresses statistical-objectified as well as media-discursive security, thereby opening up new possibilities of analysis. more
The treatment of cybercrime in the substantive criminal law and the corresponding rules of criminal procedure are significant issues in today’s information society. The focus on cybercrime at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law has as its aim the detailed analysis of relevant offenses and legal norms. The future criminal law regulation of the global cyberspace will be redefined on the basis of this fundamental research. This new law must, above all, be better adapted to the intangible nature of data and information as well as to the global nature of cyberspace. more

Do typical criminal careers exist?

2011 Grundies, Volker
In criminological research the strong dependency of criminal behaviour on the age of the offender is generally described as the “age crime curve”. This correlation is considered to be invariant, as it is hardly determined by socio-cultural factors and varies only slightly amongst different offences. However, it is a controversial issue how this curve is composed with regard to the trajectories of individual offenders. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law analysed data of the Freiburg Cohort Study by applying the group based trajectory model. more

Counter-Piracy Operations in the Gulf of Aden

2010 Petrig, Anna
Jurisprudence Social and Behavioural Sciences
A year after the first deployment of military ships in the Gulf of Aden, piracy and armed robbery at sea continue to pose a threat to the safety of commercial maritime routes and to the delivery of humanitarian aid to Somalia. Hence, it is not surprising that the United Nations Security Council renewed the authorization to fight piracy in the territorial waters of Somalia and on the Somali mainland for another year in November 2009. more

Surveillance of Telecommunications Traffic Data

2009 Albrecht, Hans-Jörg; Kilchling, Michael
The access to so-called telecommunications traffic data is an investigative method which has increasingly been resorted to in recent years. It not only complements “classic” forms of telecommunications interception but has in fact evolved to form an independent investigative method in its own right that can be implemented in both a cost effective and economical manner. Consequently, its use has spread beyond the areas of computer related crime and data theft to take in more conventional crimes – not as the “last” resort, but rather as the “first”. more

National Blockade in Global Cyberspace

2008 Sieber, Ulrich; Nolde, Malaika
Jurisprudence Social and Behavioural Sciences
Due to the international nature of data networks, internet crime is a global phenomenon. The authority of national law enforcement agencies ends, however, at national and jurisdictional borders. As a result, as far as the presence of illegal content in cyberspace is concerned, national blockades of the Internet are attracting increasing interest as a possibly viable strategy to solve this problem. If direct action against illegal content on foreign servers is impossible, the attempt can at least be made to block citizens’ access to such content – if only from within a state’s own territory. This approach is technically problematic and, from a legal point of view, highly controversial. more

Hate crimes: The impact of imprisonment on violent juvenile offenders

2007 Brandenstein, Martin; Özsöz, Figen
Jurisprudence Social and Behavioural Sciences
What effect do criminal sanctions and prison terms have on the development and self-perception of juvenile xenophobic criminal offenders? During the 1990s, a large scale flaring up of violent hate motivated crimes, carried out by young right-wing and xenophobic men, fell within the direct spotlight of research into violence and criminological policy. Hate crimes designate a set of criminal offences which are committed against those who, because of certain social characteristics such as religion, ethnicity, disability or sexual orientation, are labelled as belonging to another social group. more

Participation in crime: Criminal liability of leaders of criminal groups and networks – A comparative legal analysis

2006 Sieber, Ulrich; Koch, Hans-Georg; Simon, Jan-Michael
Jurisprudence Social and Behavioural Sciences
Crimes orchestrated by well-isolated “persons behind the scenes” and carried out within the framework of complex organizational structures pose special challenges to both the theory and the practice of criminal law. Important cases within this context are the crimes committed in civil wars. The prosecution of the crimes committed in the Balkans before the Yugoslavia Tribunal provided the incentive for a comprehensive comparative legal study of over forty criminal justice systems. The innovative approach taken by this research project combines the examination of theoretical underpinnings with an analysis of hypothetical case scenarios. more

Legal reality and efficiency of wiretapping, surveillance and other covert investigation measures

2005 Dorsch, Claudia; Krüpe-Gescher, Christiane; Albrecht, Hans-Jörg
The surveillance of telecommunication, i.e. wiretapping (Articles 100a and 100b of the German Code of Criminal Procedure [StPO]), is one of the most important covert investigation methods. Along with acoustic surveillance of private premises (Article 100c I, No. 3 StPO), it was the subject of a study evaluating 611 criminal proceedings filed in 1998 and surveys of some 6,000 practitioners. more

Criminal law comparison as the driving force in criminal law development

2004 Sieber, Ulrich; Kreicker, Helmut
Jurisprudence Social and Behavioural Sciences
Under the guidance of Ulrich Sieber, the new director of the criminal research group, the academic researchers of the Freiburg Max-Planck-Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law compiled a report commissioned by the UN Criminal Court for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The criminal law/criminological report comprises a comparative law study of the relevant laws of the 23 legal systems applicable to particularly serious crimes such as murder, torture and rape and the sanctions imposed by judges in the territory of the former Yugoslavia in relation to such crimes. The report supports the ICTY on the fixation of fair punishments and advocates the avoidance of divergence between the punishments of the ICTY and the relevant national courts. It further establishes the basis for future studies by the Institute on sentencing. more
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