Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Albin Eser, M.C.J.

Director emeritus, Professor emeritus of criminal law, criminal procedure, and comparative criminal law at the Law Faculty of the University of Freiburg


Tel.: +49 (761) 7081-217

Fax: +49 (761) 7081-294


Main Research:

In the beginning of his academic life, Professor Eser’s primary interests were initially in theft, fraud, other economic crimes, and the law on penal and administrative sanctions. Later on he became more interested in criminal offenses to life and to the person, especially those involving issues on the borderline of law and medicine. This interest is reflected in a three-volume project on abortion in international comparison (Schwangerschaftsabbruch im internationalen Vergleich, 1988/1998/2000) as well as in publications on suicide and euthanasia, medical treatment and research on humans, reproductive medicine and gene technology. More recently, Professor Eser has turned his attention to fundamental issues of comparative criminal law (in particular with a project comparing the structures of national criminal law systems and studies on the development, aims and methods of comparative jurisprudence) and to transnational criminal law (with studies of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and his experiences as a judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague). Regarding domestic criminal law, he has been one of the authors of Schönke/Schröder, a leading commentary to the German Criminal Code, since 1974.

Academic Background:

Professor Eser was born in Leidersbach/Bavaria on January 26, 1935. After graduating from secondary school (Abitur) in Miltenberg/Main, he studied law at the Universities of Würzburg and Tübingen and the Free University of Berlin from 1954 to 1958. He sat the first state bar examination in Würzburg, where he also earned his doctorate (Dr. iur. utr.) in 1962. He holds a Master of Comparative Jurisprudence (M.C.J.) from New York University, where he spent a year at the Institute of Comparative Law. After having worked as a research assistant in the field of civil law at the University of Würzburg before sitting his second state bar examination in 1964, he transferred to the University of Tübingen, where he earned his qualification as a university lecturer for the subjects criminal law, criminal procedure, and comparative criminal law in 1969 with a Habilitation on penal sanctions involving the deprivation of money or property (Die strafrechtlichen Sanktionen gegen das Eigentum). Following temporary faculty positions at the Universities of Hamburg, Mainz, and Mannheim, he was appointed a full professor at the University of Bielefeld in June of 1970, where he held the positions of dean and vice-president. Professor Eser returned to the University of Tübingen in 1974 before accepting a position at the University of Freiburg in 1982 where, in addition to his professorship, he was appointed director at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law. In addition to his academic positions, he was a higher state court judge from 1971 to 1988, first in Hamm/Westphalia, then in Stuttgart. In 1986/87, he was dean of the law faculty of the University of Freiburg; from 1989 to 1992 he served as vice-president of the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft); and from 1994 to 1997 as chairperson of the Humanities Section of the Max Planck Society. In 1981, he was a visiting professor at the University of California in Los Angeles, in 1986 and 2003 at Columbia University Law School in New York, and in 2002 at the University of Texas at Galveston. He has been awarded honorary doctorates from Jagiellonian University in Krakow (Poland) in 1991, Universidad Peruana Los Andes in Huancayo (Peru) in 1997, and Waseda University in Tokyo (Japan) in 2001. Since 1993, he has been an honorary member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest. In 2001, Professor Eser was awarded the University Medal of the University of Freiburg; in 2004, he was decorated with the Federal Cross of Merit (Officer’s Cross). After retiring from his academic positions in 2003, Professor Eser served on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague as an ad litem judge. Afterwards he was lecturing at various conferences and teaching at foreign universities, in particular so as visiting professor at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto/Japan in summer term 2008, in the fall semester 2009 at Saint Louis University in Missouri (USA), in the fall term 2010 at the University of Haifa/Israel, in spring term 2011 at the University of Tasmania in Hobart/Australia, and in the summer term 2013 at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem/Israel.

Memberships and Editorships:

Until his retirement in 2003 at the Max Planck Institute Professor Eser was a member of the board of directors of the Center for Ethics and Law in Medicine (ZERM) at the University of Freiburg, member of the Society of Medical Law (Gesellschaft für Medizinrecht), of the German Section of the International Commission of Jurists, for two election terms member of the board of trustees of the Ernst Schering Foundation in Berlin and for many years chairman of the Ethics Committee of the German Psychological Society. He continues to be an honorary member of the International Association of Penal Law (AIDP) and the Japanese Association of Criminal Law and is a member of the council of the International Society for the Reform of Criminal Law, the Association of German Jurists (Deutscher Juristentag for which he served on the executive committee from 1989 to 1992), the Görres Society for the Promotion of Science (Görres-Gesellschaft zur Pflege der Wissenschaft) (where he served as chair of the section Law and Political Science from 1980 to 1986), the German-American Lawyers’ Association (DAJV), and the Working Group of Physicians and Lawyers (Arbeitskreis Ärzte und Juristen) within the Association of the Scientific Medical Societies in Germany (AWMF). Professor Eser was the editor of the series Beiträge und Materialien aus dem Max-Planck-Institut für ausländisches und internationales Strafrecht in Freiburg (Contributions and Materials from the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law). He was a co-editor of the series Rechtsvergleichende Untersuchungen zur gesamten Strafrechtswissenschaft and Ethik und Recht in der Medizin, and until 2005 editor-in-chief of the foreign review of the Zeitschrift für die gesamte Strafrechtswissenschaft. In addition, he was a member of the Advisory Board of the periodical Ethik in der Medizin, the Editorial Board of the European Journal of Health Law, and is still acting as a member of the Advisory Board of the Revista de Derecho Penal y Criminología, the Advisory Board of the Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law, the Advisory Board of the Revista de Derecho y Genoma Humano (Law and the Human Genome Review), and of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Jahrbuch für Wissenschaft und Ethik, of the Consejo Acesor of the Revista de Derecho Penal y Criminología, the Consejo de Redacción of the Revista Penal, the Law and the Human Genome Review/Derecho y Genoma Humano and the Colaboradores Permanentes of the Lex Medicinae – Revista Portuguesa de Direito da Saúde of the Centro de Direito Biomédico Coimbra.

Recent Publications in English

 Publications in other languages see the German version of this website. 

  • Eser, Albin: Transnational Measures against the Impunity of International Crimes. In: Journal of International Criminal Justice 10/3, Oxford University Press, 621-634 (2012).
  • Eser, Albin: Procedural Structure and Features of International Criminal Justice: Lessons from the ICTY. In: Swart, Bert / Zahar, Alexander / Sluiter, Göran (eds.): The Legacy of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, 1st ed. Oxford University Press, 2011, 108-148.
  • Eser, Albin: Transnationales Strafrecht / Transnational Criminal Law. Ausgewählte Beiträge / Collected Publications. Compiled and edited by Heine, Günter / Burkhardt, Björn / Gropp, Walter: Berliner Wissenschaftsverlag 2011, 700 p.
  • Eser, Albin: Where the World Seeks Redress. In: MaxPlanckResearch, issue 4, 14-18 (2008).
  • Eser, Albin: Human Rights Guarantees for Criminal Law and Procedure in the EU-Charter of Fundamental Rights. In: Ritsumeikan Law Review 26, 163-190 (2009).
  • Eser, Albin / Rettenmaier, Felix: Criminality of organizations: lessons from domestic law – a comparative perspective. In: Noellkaemper, André / van der Wilt, Harmen (eds.): System Criminality in International Law. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2009, 222-237.
  • Eser, Albin: Article 31: Grounds for excluding criminal responsibility. In: Triffterer, O. (ed.): Commentary on the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Observers’ Notes Article by Article. 2nd Edition. C.H. Beck, München et al. 2008, 863-893.
  • Eser, Albin: The Nature and Rationale of Punishment. In: Cardozo Law Review 28, 2427-2436 (2007).

Further information

  • can be found in: Eser, Albin: Stationen | Tätigkeiten, Documentation on the occasion of the retirement as Professor at the Freiburg of Freiburg (10/01/2000) and as Director at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law (02/01/2003), available in the Internet via, in an updated version of 2015 under volltexte/9804. This documentation also offers references for downloading publications of Albin Eser via freidok.

  • Last update: 1 December 2015
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