Globalization leads to increasing harmonization of national criminal law systems. This development takes different paths in the various areas of law. To research these processes, this joint international project involving 13 researchers examines for the first time the actors, forces, processes, and models of international harmonization of criminal law in order to formulate theories based on a detailed study of 11 different areas of law.

Glob­al­iz­a­tion leads to in­creas­ing har­mon­iz­a­tion of crim­in­al law – es­pe­cially in closely knit eco­nom­ic and polit­ic­al com­munit­ies. This pro­cess, however, takes very dif­fer­ent paths in the vari­ous areas of law and in the vari­ous re­gion­al al­li­ances. This raises yet-un­re­searched ba­sic is­sues: Which private or gov­ern­ment­al act­ors in­flu­ence this de­vel­op­ment? Which forces work for and which against har­mon­iz­a­tion of crim­in­al law? What in­ter­act­ive pro­cesses oc­cur in the course of in­ter­na­tion­al uni­fic­a­tion of crim­in­al law? Can dif­fer­ing mod­els of crim­in­al law har­mon­iz­a­tion be iden­ti­fied?

In this pro­ject, these is­sues were ana­lyzed by an in­ter­na­tion­al team of ex­per­i­enced com­par­at­ive law schol­ars who met in Par­is, Freiburg, Basel, Naples, and Toledo to dis­cuss their in­ter­im res­ults. The ana­lys­is en­com­passed el­ev­en areas of law, in­clud­ing in­ter­na­tion­al crime, ter­ror­ism, hu­man traf­fick­ing, and cor­rup­tion. In a sub­sequent cross-sec­tion­al ana­lys­is, these areas of the "Spe­cial Part" of the study were as­sessed from the per­spect­ive of a newly de­veloped the­ory of har­mon­iz­a­tion of crim­in­al law.

In the ana­lys­is of the el­ev­en se­lec­ted areas of law at the be­gin­ning of the work, the Max Planck In­sti­tute in Freiburg stud­ied the har­mon­iz­a­tion pro­cesses in the vari­ous areas of the law of In­ter­net crime. In this "mi­cro­cosm" of vari­ous sub­sec­tions of law, both sub­stant­ive and pro­ced­ur­al, the find­ings re­gard­ing the over­lap­ping rules of the vari­ous in­ter­na­tion­al or­gan­iz­a­tions are es­pe­cially in­ter­est­ing. They show that pre­vi­ous res­ults of re­search con­duc­ted in the area of civil law – on con­flict­ing reg­u­la­tions caused by a frag­ment­a­tion of the law, for ex­ample – do not ap­ply in the same way to crim­in­al law. Fur­ther­more, they show that, des­pite the gen­er­al lack of demo­crat­ic le­git­im­acy on the in­ter­na­tion­al level, in­ter­na­tion­al or­gan­iz­a­tions have em­ployed vari­ous mech­an­isms that en­able them to fa­cil­it­ate the ef­fect­ive uni­fic­a­tion of the law and at the same time to achieve the level of demo­crat­ic le­git­im­acy re­quired of crim­in­al law. These res­ults, de­veloped for the "mi­cro­cosm" of In­ter­net crim­in­al law, blaze a new schol­arly trail, at least for Ger­many and es­pe­cially for crim­in­al law.

In the gen­er­al cross-sec­tion­al ana­lys­is of the vari­ous cat­egor­ies of of­fenses, the Freiburg In­sti­tute was re­spons­ible, in ad­di­tion, for ex­amin­ing the factors be­hind crim­in­al law har­mon­iz­a­tion. These factors re­flect the na­tion­al in­terests of na­tion-states in ef­fect­ive transna­tion­al pro­sec­u­tion with­in the frame­work of a ho­mo­gen­eous crim­in­al policy. Of con­sid­er­able im­port­ance for suc­cess­ful har­mon­iz­a­tion is wheth­er the area in ques­tion already shares a com­mon value sys­tem, for ex­ample, a sys­tem shaped by uni­ver­sally ap­plic­able hu­man rights. Ad­di­tion­al factors be­hind the har­mon­iz­a­tion of crim­in­al law are the ex­ist­ence of spe­cif­ic in­stru­ments (such as European dir­ect­ives) that con­trib­ute to the "hard" im­ple­ment­a­tion of uni­fic­a­tion of crim­in­al law. The in­flu­ences of in­ter­na­tion­al or­gan­iz­a­tions, of ex­perts con­cerned with har­mon­iz­a­tion, of the eco­nomy, and of civil so­ci­ety (the lat­ter par­tic­u­larly in con­nec­tion with the re­port­ing of spec­tac­u­lar cases in the me­dia ) are also sig­ni­fic­ant. Polit­ic­ally power­ful na­tion-states – par­tic­u­larly those that share ba­sic val­ues – are able to push through their har­mon­iz­a­tion am­bi­tions against op­pos­ing sov­er­eign in­terests of oth­er na­tion-states and against the ar­gu­ment in fa­vor of pre­serving "na­tion­al" crim­in­al law cul­ture.

The pro­ject find­ings have been pub­lished in: M. Del­mas-Marty/M. Pieth/U.Sieber (ed.), Les chemins de l'har­mon­isa­tion pénale / Har­mon­ising Crim­in­al Law, Par­is 2008 (this volume con­tains the con­tri­bu­tions – dis­cussed above – from the In­sti­tute by Ul­rich Sieber "Mas­ter­ing Com­plex­ity in the Glob­al Cy­ber­space" 127–202 and "The Forces be­hind the Har­mon­iz­a­tion of Crim­in­al Law" 385–417).