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.

A German law abolishes child marriages in general - not always in the interest of those affected

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.

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.


Yearbook article 2016, Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law, Freiburg Author: Carl-Wendelin Neubert

No such thing as a typical criminal career

Freiburg study questions established criminological theories


Max Planck scientists cooperate with partners in around 120 countries all over the world. Here they write about their personal experiences and impressions. Carolin Hillemanns from the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law spent seven months in California with her family. Here she met a bicycle thief, a lot of homeless people, just one Trump supporter and some remarkably friendly, generous neighbors

In no other federal state are as many people admitted to psychiatric units against their will as in Bavaria: the numbers add up to around 60,000 a year, almost two and a half times as many as in Baden-Wuerttemberg. Now the free state is revising the corresponding legislation. As in other federal states, this law will in future be known as the Psychisch-Kranken-Hilfe-Gesetz (Act on Assistance for Persons with Mental Illness). However, our author is critical of the new regulations and does not believe that they provide appropriate support for persons with psychiatric disorders. On the contrary, these patients are classified as a danger to the public.

The competition isn’t sleeping, it’s spying. And especially small and medium-sized businesses are increasingly falling victim to criminal competitors or being targeted by foreign intelligence services. Nevertheless, most cases remain shrouded in mystery. Michael Kilchling and his team at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law in Freiburg are now attempting to shed some light on the phenomenon. Together with colleagues at the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, they are conducting research into the scale of industrial espionage in Germany, how companies are combating it and how the authorities could better support them in their efforts.

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.

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Treatment, reentry, and risk of reoffending: Sex offenders in the social therapeutic institutions in the Free State of Saxony

2016 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.


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

2013 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

2012 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.

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