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Durham Law School

Staff profile

Professor Michael Bohlander, A. jur. Dr. jur. Richter am Landgericht a.D. SFHEA FRSA

Chair in Comparative and International Criminal Law in Durham Law School
Chair in Comparative and International Criminal Law, Durham Law School
Member of the Human Rights Centre

(email at



Professor Bohlander is currently on leave from Durham University and serving as the International Co-Investigating Judge in the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. His candidature was submitted to the United Nations by the German Government; he was subsequently nominated for the post by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. After the approval of the Cambodian Supreme Council of the Magistracy, King Norodom Sihamoni of Cambodia appointed him to the ECCC bench by Royal Decree of 31 July 2015.

On 7 February 2017, the Head of the EULEX Mission in Kosovo, upon the nomination by the German Government and following the recommendation of an independent international selection panel, appointed him to the roster of judges of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers. 

He regrets that during his absence from Durham he will not take on new postgraduate research students. 

From July 1991 until joining the Law School in September 2004, Professor Bohlander had been a civil and criminal pre-trial, trial and appellate judge in the courts of the East German Free State of Thuringia, in the transitional stage after German unification. He sat on proceedings dealing with regime crime in the former GDR, includig cases involving the use of minefields at the former inner-German border, the cassation of politically motivated judgments of former GDR courts and the rehabilitation of persons who had been convicted for political reasons; his general criminal docket covered serious crime such as, for example, murder, rape, child sexual abuse and armed robbery, both in the juvenile and adult courts. His civil docket encompassed general civil matters, construction and insurance law, as well as medical malpractice litigation.

From October 1989 to April 1990, he served a pupillage at Walnut House Chambers in Exeter, mainly in criminal cases. In 1996, he was a judicial visitor at a Juzgado de Primera Instancia e Instrucción in Gandía, Spain. From 1999 until 2001 he was on leave from the Thuringian judiciary and served as the senior legal officer of a Trial Chamber at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in the Hague.

He helped train the judges of the Iraqi High Tribunal which tried Saddam Hussein and has been active in judicial training and advising governments in transitional contexts since 2001 (Egypt, Georgia, Kosovo, Kurdistan/Iraq, Tunisia) at the request of the International Bar Association, the OSCE, the United Nations, for the EU, the Kurdistan Regional Government and for the German Foundation for International Legal Cooperation. As a member of that Foundation he assisted in the initiation of training links with the Court of Appeal and the Ministry of Justice of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

His publications have been widely cited by and before courts and authorities in several domestic and international jurisdictions, including the Constitutional Courts of Germany and Colombia, the Federal Court of Justice and several State Supreme Courts in Germany, the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas, the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory, the International Criminal Court, the Residual Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, as well as the criminal tribunals for Yugoslavia, Sierra Leone, Lebanon, Rwanda and Cambodia. His work has also been referred to by Law Reform Commissions in Ireland, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand, and by the Federal German Parliament.

He has been invited to speak at numerous conferences, seminars and training events at home and abroad, including in Armenia, Canada, China, Croatia, Egypt, Georgia, Germany, Iraq/Kurdistan, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kuwait, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United States (including the Military Academy at West Point), Tanzania (at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha) and Tunisia.

Professor Bohlander's main research interests lie in international and comparative criminal law, including their linguistic and cultural aspects, as well as their link to transitional justice issues.

The German Federal Ministry of Justice lists his English translations of the German Criminal Code and of the Act on International Cooperation in Criminal Matters on its official website. The translation of the German Criminal Code was translated into Farsi and published in Iran in 2010, followed by the translation of his monograph "Principles of German Criminal Law" in 2011, which is currently also being translated into Chinese. A Farsi translation of his book "Principles of German Criminal Procedure" is also in preparation.

Professor Bohlander is the founding editor-in chief and since 2015 General Editor of the International Criminal Law Review, the general editor of Studies in International and Comparative Criminal Law with Hart Publishing and a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Criminal Law, as well as on a number of advisory boards. Together with Alan Reed, Nicola Wake and Emma Engleby of Northumbria Law School, and barrister Verity Adams, he edits the series Substantive Issues in Criminal Law with Taylor & Francis.

From 2010 - 2014, Professor Bohlander was the Visiting Chair in Criminal Law at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen in the Netherlands. In 2012, he was the first non-Muslim visiting scholar ever to teach at the Faculty of Law of Al-Azhar University in Cairo.

He holds two State Examinations in Law from the Ministry of Justice of the Saarland (1986 and 1990); in 1992 he obtained the degree of Dr. iur. from the Faculty of Law of the University of the Saarland, with a study on the topic of how the duty solicitor schemes in England/Wales and Scotland could inform the practice of access to counsel in the police investigation stage in German criminal procedure.



Research Interests

  • International criminal justice - Theory, practice, political and socio-legal implications
  • Comparative criminal law
  • General comparative law
  • Transitional justice
  • The Judiciary - Comparative, international and socio-legal aspects

Selected Publications

Authored book

Book review

  • Bohlander, Michael. (2004). Review of Robert W. Bennett, Talking it Through - Puzzles of American Democracy. Swiss Political Science Review 125.
  • Bohlander, Michael. (2001). Regular book reviews on works from the fields on international and comparative criminal justice since 2001. International Criminal Law Review

Chapter in book

Conference Paper

Edited book

Journal Article


Newspaper/Magazine Article


Translated Book

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