The project examines the limits of criminal law with respect to its identity-defining function and its ability to direct the course of society. Findings regarding this function of punishment can already be read in E. Durkheim’s work; however, there has been a lack of studies specifically focused on national criminal law up until now. This research gap needs to be closed, especially in light of an increasingly "smaller" world in which various cultures meet in a  single public forum.

This pro­ject began in 2005 with a re­quest from the chief pro­sec­utor of the In­ter­na­tion­al Crim­in­al Court for the former Yugoslavia for an ex­pert opin­ion from the Max Planck In­sti­tute. The fo­cus of the ex­pert opin­ion was the at­tri­bu­tion of crim­in­al re­spons­ib­il­ity for the com­mis­sion of crimes car­ried out as part of a lar­ger com­plex of crim­in­al activ­ity by a net­work com­posed of nu­mer­ous in­di­vidu­als, a scen­ario seen re­peatedly in the cases be­ing tried by the court. This com­par­at­ive law pro­ject on Lat­in Amer­ica is a con­tinu­ation of the ori­gin­al study. The re­search goal is to as­cer­tain, on the basis of group crime, wheth­er there is a Lat­in Amer­ic­an mod­el for the at­tri­bu­tion of re­spons­ib­il­ity for acts that, taken to­geth­er, make up com­plex crime, in or­der to lay the found­a­tion for a Lat­in Amer­ic­an Mod­el Crim­in­al Code – an at­tempt to pre­pare such a code was already made in the 1970s and 1980s. The cent­ral thes­is is that all crim­in­al law sys­tems ana­lyzed with­in the con­text of this study have re­spon­ded to the prob­lem of group crime with sim­il­ar mod­els of at­tri­bu­tion.

To this end, nine coun­tries were se­lec­ted (Ar­gen­tina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Chile, Columbia, Mex­ico, Peru, Ur­uguay, and Venezuela). Meth­od­o­lo­gic­ally, the pro­ject is be­ing con­duc­ted as fol­lows: (a) the norm­at­ive and doc­trin­al as­pects of the in­di­vidu­al mod­els of at­tri­bu­tion are stud­ied and clas­si­fied; (b) in each par­ti­cip­at­ing coun­try, the dis­pos­i­tion of cases that have aris­en in prac­tice in which crim­in­al net­works play a role and vari­ous group­ings of people (as mem­bers of crim­in­al or­gan­iz­a­tions, mere ac­cessor­ies, etc.) par­ti­cip­ate is stud­ied on the basis of that coun­try’s norm­at­ive sys­tem; in or­der to (c) com­pare the mod­els and dis­pos­i­tions; and fi­nally (d) to ad­dress the is­sue of the ex­ist­ence of a Lat­in Amer­ic­an mod­el of at­tri­bu­tion for par­ti­cip­a­tion in crime.

Fi­nal res­ults are not yet avail­able. The res­ults to date show, however, that all the coun­tries un­der study ex­hib­it, to a large ex­tent, a sim­il­ar found­a­tion for the at­tri­bu­tion of crim­in­al li­ab­il­ity to par­ti­cipants in crime. Most of the coun­tries dif­fer­en­ti­ate between per­pet­ra­tion (Täter­schaft) and ac­cess­ory­ship (Teil­nahme). The ma­jor­ity em­ploys the doc­trine of he­ge­mony or con­trol over the act (Tatherrschaftslehre). Sev­er­al sys­tems (Brazil, Mex­ico, Ur­uguay) ori­ent them­selves to the Itali­an crim­in­al law doc­trine, which does not mean, however, that they have ad­op­ted the "unit­ary" ap­proach to par­ti­cip­a­tion in crime (Ein­heit­stäter­prin­zip). In sen­ten­cing, the ma­jor­ity of the coun­tries makes a quant­it­at­ive dis­tinc­tion between per­pet­rat­ors and in­stig­at­ors, on the one hand, and ac­cessor­ies, on the oth­er; in the case of the lat­ter, sen­tences are mit­ig­ated. To date it can­not be con­firmed that Lat­in Amer­ica has a mod­el for per­pet­ra­tion and ac­cess­ory­ship that de­vi­ates from a doc­trin­al per­spect­ive from the cur­rent Ger­man mod­el. In this re­spect, the ad­op­tion in many coun­tries of the doc­trine of he­ge­mony or con­trol over the act and – es­pe­cially with re­gard to in­ter­na­tion­al crimes – the ad­op­tion of the the­ory of in­dir­ect per­pet­ra­tion (mit­tel­barer Täter­schaft) in the con­text of hier­arch­ic­al power struc­tures are em­phas­ized in the lit­er­at­ure and case law. In com­par­is­on to the in­stru­ment of joint crim­in­al en­ter­prise as de­veloped in the case law of the In­ter­na­tion­al Crim­in­al Court for the former Yugoslavia, which, in its third cat­egory amounts to strict li­ab­il­ity, each of the Lat­in Amer­ic­an sys­tems ana­lyzed is fur­ther de­veloped in a doc­trin­al sense and is, ob­ject­ively, nar­row­er in scope.