Research at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law is organized in terms of projects. Projects in the Department of Criminal Law are carried out by individuals, sections, or the entire department. In the Department of Criminology, research is conducted exclusively in the form of projects. Projects can also be carried out collaboratively by both departments. A list of all projects with additional information can be found on the page research projects.
The projects conducted by the Department of Criminal Law are currently classified under three categories that involve the central challenges in the area of crime and crime control. These can be described with the following key words:
- Global society
- Information society
- New risk society
Crime is becoming more global; it uses international data networks; its consequences, even in the case of a single criminal act, can – through technology and organization – be significant for the entire society and can lead to new forms of macro-crime. These three developments in the global, information, and risk society are closely connected, mutually reinforcing, and lead, in some cases, to similar problems.
An important aspect of these developments is the frequent failure of traditional, territorially confined, purely national criminal law. In the global society, globally acting offenders can no longer be controlled by one criminal law system whose decisions are, first, limited in their effectiveness to a national territory and, second, must first run the gamut of protracted mechanisms of administrative cooperation and mutual legal assistance if they are to be extended to another national territory. In the modern information society, the multitude of Internet data packages, with their frequently encrypted contents, cannot be comprehensively checked at the country’s external borders, so that the virtual space of the Internet can only be controlled in a limited fashion by territorially confined criminal law. Even in the new risk society, characterized by technology and organization, traditional criminal law often fails – most notably in internationally networked – cases of white-collar crime, organized crime, terrorism, crime in violent conflicts of international significance, and other forms of macro-crime.
One of the central challenges of the early years of the new millennium is thus the study of international and supranational systems of criminal law and forms of cooperation as well as of alternative prevention models that, to be sure, work together with traditional, territorially-limited, national criminal law but exceed it in their effectiveness. New forms of administrative cooperation and mutual legal assistance, the direct application of criminal law decisions in other legal systems, supranational criminal law, as well as European or even universal model penal codes likewise belong to the Institute’s future research focus as do the international self-regulation of commerce, new forms of state-private "co-regulation", and the treatment of post-conflict situations on regional, national, and international levels. Within this framework, issues from the Institute’s previous research projects (such as the project "Criminal Law in Reaction to System Crime") will be further developed.
In contrast, the projects of the Department of Criminology are classified into a total of five focal points: "Criminal Procedure and Sanctions in Transition", "Dangerous Offenders", "Homeland Security, Organized Crime, and Terrorism – Societal Perceptions and Reactions", "Crime, Social Context and Social Change", and "The Development of Criminal Policy and the Rule of Law in Transitional Societies".