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Durham Law School

Staff Profiles

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

Professor in Durham Law School
Chair in Comparative and International Criminal Law, Durham Law School
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 42812
Fax: +44 (0) 191 33 42801
Room number: PCL120
Member of the Human Rights Centre

(email at


Michael Bohlander is a former German judge with a particular interest in comparative and international criminal law.

From 1991 until joining the Law School in 2004, Professor Bohlander had been a civil and criminal trial and appellate judge in the courts of the East German Free State of Thuringia, in the transitional stage after German unification. From October 1989 to April 1990, he served a pupillage with Geoffrey Mercer QC at what is now 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 Spain. From 1999 until 2001 he served as the Senior Legal Officer of a Trial Chamber of 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 in transitional contexts since 2001, at the request of the International Bar Association, the OSCE, the United Nations and for the German Foundation for International Legal Cooperation. He is a member of the Genocide Task Force of the High Representative of the Kurdistan Autonomous Region to the United Kingdom.

His publications (19 books and over 140 articles, case comments, book reviews etc.) have been widely cited by courts of several domestic and international jurisdictions. His critical work on the recruitment to the international criminal judiciary was referred to extensively in the 2011 background paper to the International Bar Association's Resolution of 31 October 2011 on judicial appointments to international courts and tribunals.

Professor Bohlander's main research interests lie in international and comparative criminal law, including their linguistic and cultural aspects. 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.

Professor Bohlander is the founding editor-in chief 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. Together with Professor Alan Reed he edits the series Substantive Issues in Criminal Law with Ashgate.

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, when he was also received by the Grand Imam of al-Azhar in a private audience. In March 2014, he taught at the US Military Academy in West Point.

Teaching Areas

International and Comparative Criminal Law  (3rd year and LLM)

Research Supervision

Professor Bohlander welcomes requests for postgraduate research supervision in his areas of research interest.

Research Interests

  • German criminal law and procedure
  • International criminal justice - Theory, practice, political and socio-legal implications
  • Comparative criminal law and procedure
  • Transitional justice and rule of law
  • The Judiciary and legal profession - Comparative, international and socio-legal aspects

Selected Grants

  • 2013: 5,221 € from Rijksuniversiteit Groningen for a comparative survey in the NL and the UK on public and parliamentarian attitudes to substantive criminal law principles
  • 2012: £ 21,996 from the Volkswagen Foundation for the translation of Thomas Vormbaum, Einführung in die moderne Strafrechtsgeschichte
  • 2011: £ 37,000 from Mr Tawfiq al-Refaie to teach Islamic Law on the LLM plus related Islamic law library holdings
  • 2010: € 20,000 from Groningen Centre for Law and Govenance, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, for research on substantive criminal law
  • 1997: DEM 14,000 (€ 7,000) by Volkswagen Foundation to conduct research on contempt of court at Northwestern Law School, Chicago

Selected Publications

Books: edited

  • Bohlander, Michael (2014). A Modern History of German Criminal Law. Springer.
  • Bohlander, Michael & Birkett, Daley (2014). Codification of Criminal Law. International Library of Essays in Criminal Law. Ashgate.
  • Reed, Alan & Bohlander. Michael (2014). General Defences in Criminal Law - Domestic and Comparative Perspectives. Substantive Issues in Criminal Law. Ashgate.

Edited works: contributions

  • Bohlander, Michael (2014). Nullum crimen sine poena – Zur Unberechenbarkeit völkerstrafrechtlicher Lehrenbildung. In Freiheitsverluste im Recht. Alwart, Heiner Mohr Siebeck.
  • Bohlander, Michael (2014). Transfer of Defences. In General Defences in Criminal Law - Domestic and Comparative Perspectives. Reed, Alan & Bohlander, Michael Ashgate.

Journal papers: academic

  • Bohlander, Michael (2014). Blood Music on Darwin’s Radio – Musings on social network data transparency, cyborg technology, science fiction and the future perception of human rights. Global Community Yearbook of International Law and Jurisprudence
  • Bohlander, Michael (2014). Criminalising LGBT persons under national criminal law and Article 7(1)(h) and (3) of the ICC Statute. Global Policy
  • Bohlander, Michael (2014). Language, intellectual culture, legal traditions and international criminal justice. Journal of International Criminal Justice
  • Bohlander, Michael (2014). Political Islam and Non-Muslim Religions - A Lesson from Lessing for the Arab Transition. Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations 27 - 48.
  • Bohlander, Michael (2014). Sisters in Law – Using Maqāṣid al-Shari‘ah to Advance the Conversation between Islamic and Secular Legal Thinking. Arab Law Quarterly

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