Section International and Transnational Criminal Law


From the beginning, the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law has recognized the vital importance of international and transnational criminal law. The Institute soon established its own department dedicated to international and transnational criminal law (Referat). International law in a broader sense encompasses rules for the application of national law and refers to cases involving foreign and transborder elements, mutual international judicial assistance as well as international law as a part of international public law.

Work area:
  • International Criminal Law

  • Transnational Criminal Law

  • Transitional Justice/Post-Conflict Justice

  • International Judicial Assistance

  • International Crime Control

Head(s) of section

Department Area and Focus of Research:

International Criminal Law:

With the onset of globalization, the importance of international criminal law has been rapidly increasing. The state's monopoly on legitimate use of force – in the form of criminal law – was and remains the manifestation of national state sovereignty. However, the developments of the last few decades reveal that cross-border organized crime, international terrorism, and drug trafficking have grown in importance. At the same time, single nation efforts to fight these crimes are reaching their functional limits. To cope with this discrepancy, clearly defined rules for competent state jurisdiction, the institutionalization of border-crossing crime prosecution, and the extension of international cooperation have become absolutely essential.

International Criminal Law (as part of International Public Law):

International criminal law as part of international public law takes on a special role. The idea of a universally enforceable criminal law has a long history. The Treaty of Versailles in 1919 was what first standardized the idea of an international criminal court, but effective realization, implementation, and application of an international criminal court succeeded only after World War II. To address the crimes committed under the German National Socialist regime, an international military tribunal was erected in Nuremberg, based on the London Charta of the International Military Tribunal. Later, after the Cold War, the United Nations decided to establish ad-hoc courts against the backdrop of gross humanitarian law violations in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. These international ad-hoc courts were followed by various internationalized and, respectively, hybrid organized courts, set up inter alia to cope with the conflicts in Sierra Leona, East Timor, Cambodia, and Lebanon. Surely the most significant milestone in the history of international (public) criminal law is the founding of the International Criminal Court (ICC). In 1998, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court was adopted, and it came into effect on July 1, 2002.

Activities (within the framework of IMPRS-CC):

Developments in Criminal Law in Africa – Between the Local and the Global –
International Workshop
04/19 to 04/21/2012

[Further information]

International Crime Control
Workshop • IMPRS-CC
11/27 to 11/28/2012

[Further information]

Current Projects

I. Joint Projects

    • Africa and International Criminal Law (Cooperation with the African Foundation for International Law)
      Heads: Dr. Nandor Knust, Jan-Michael Simon, Prof. Roland Adjovi
    • General Legal Principles of International Criminal Law on the Criminal Liability of Leaders of Criminal Groups and Networks [more]
      Heads: Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Ulrich Sieber, PD Dr. Hans-Georg Koch, Jan-Michael Simon

II. Individual Project

    • Schuetze-Reymann, Jennifer: Referral Practice of Cases from International to National Justice Mechanisms [more]

Completed Projects

I. Joint Projects

    • National Prosecution of International Crimes [more]
      Heads: Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Albin Eser, Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Ulrich Sieber, Dr. Helmut Kreicker
    • The Punishment of Serious Crimes [more]
      Head: Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Ulrich Sieber

II. Individual Projects

    • Dr. Knust, Nandor: Criminal Law and Gacaca [more]
    • Dr. Hiéramente, Mayeul: International Arrest Warrants in Ongoing Conflicts [more]
    • Dr. Kreicker, Helmut: Principles and Limits of Immunities in International Criminal Law [more]
    • Dr. Nemitz, Jan Christoph: Sentencing in International Criminal Law [more]

Publications (selection)

  • Knust, Nandor: Strafrecht und Gacaca. Entwicklung eines pluralistischen Rechtsmodells am Beispiel des ruandischen Völkermordes. Berlin, Duncker & Humblot, 423 p., 2013. In addition: Diss.

  • Knust, Nandor / Adjovi, Roland: Rwanda. In: Wolfrum, R. (ed.): Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2010 [online edition; printed edition: 2013, p. 1066 – 1075].
  • Knust, Nandor/Pampalk, Madalena: Transitional Justice und Positive Komplementarität. In: Zeitschrift für Internationale Strafrechtsdogmatik Issue⁄Volume 11/5, 669-675 (2010).
  • Knust, Nandor: Ahndung des Völkermordes in Ruanda: Ein pluralistisches System zur Herstellung von Übergangsgerechtigkeit. In: Forschungsbericht 2008-2009 [Research Report 2008-2009]/Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law (ed.), , 75-78.
  • Knust, Nandor/Hess, Martin; Schuon, Christine: Implementation of the Rome Statute in Germany. In: Finnish Yearbook of International Law, Volume 16. 2005/Jan Klabbers (ed.), 2007, 133-161.
  • Kreicker, Helmut: Völkerrechtliche Exemtionen - Grundlagen und Grenzen völkerrechtlicher Immunitäten und ihre Wirkungen im Strafrecht. Berlin, 2007.
  • Sieber, Ulrich: Legal Order in a Global World, Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law, Vol. 14 (2010), p. 1 - 49 (see also the original version in German: Rechtliche Ordnung in einer globalen Welt, Rechtstheorie, Vol. 41 (2010), p. 151 - 198).
  • Sieber, Ulrich: Mastering Complexity in the Global Cyberspace: The Harmonization of Computer-Related Criminal Law. In: Les chemins de l’Harmonisation Pénale/Harmonising Criminal Law, Collection de L’UMR de Droit Comparé de Paris, Bd. 15. Paris, Société de législation comparée/Delmas-Marty, M. / Pieth, M. / Sieber, U. (eds.), 2008, 127-202.
  • Sieber, Ulrich: Blurring the Categories of Criminal Law and the Law of War – Efforts and Effects in the Pursuit of Internal and External Security. In: Criminal Law Between War and Peace – Justice and Cooperation in Criminal Matters in International Military Interventions/Manacorda, S. / Nieto Martín, A. (eds.), Cuenca, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha 2009, 35-69.
  • Simon, Jan-Michael: Criminal Accountability and Reconciliation. In: Conflicts and Conflict Resolution in Middle Eastern Societies - Between Tradition and Modernity/Hans-Jörg Albrecht/Jan-Michael Simon/Hassan Rezaei/Holger-C. Rohne/Ernesto Kiza (ed.), 2006, 99-117.
  • Last update: 16 July 2015
  • Top