Bryant University faculty are dedicated teachers who inspire students to excel and achieve superior learning outcomes. Our faculty are also scholars and researchers renowned in their fields who regularly share their expertise with national and international media.
Professor of History and Legal Studies Michael Bryant, Ph.D., specializes in the impact of the Holocaust on the law, human rights, German criminal law, and international humanitarian law. He has worked in the United States and abroad in Holocaust research and education, and is frequently cited among the world’s top experts in war crimes.
This week, as Russian forces withdrew from the area surrounding Kyiv and the history and prosecution of war crimes gained new context, Professor Bryant shared his expertise and perspectives on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and allegations of war crimes in an interview with Time magazine and commentary for The Spectator. In conjunction with the article, Bryant also provided a podcast with The Spectator.
When asked whether all war crimes are prosecuted, Bryant noted, “It’s hard to get to that point… other than the U.N., and bodies created by the U.N. like the International Criminal Court, or some of these ad hoc tribunals—we just don’t have a true international police that would arrest offenders. Defining war crimes is not so much the issue anymore. It’s prosecuting them actually, administering justice, that seems to be the primary obstacle.”
“The most critical thing in any sort of conflict involving allegations of humanitarian violations is to document what’s happening. And only after we’ve assembled as much evidence as we can are we in a position then to determine what should be done. Calling for war crime trials right now, it might be a little premature. The dust hasn’t settled,” he told Time.
In March, CBC’s Ginella Massa interviewed Bryant for Canada Tonight regarding war crimes in Ukraine and what is legally considered a war crime. Watch the interview to learn more.
Bryant’s book, A World History of War Crimes, was published in the fall of 2015 by Bloomsbury Academic Press in London (the second, significantly expanded edition was published in 2021). In 2020 he published Nazi Crimes and their Punishment (Hackett), selected as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2021 by Choice magazine in recognition of overall excellence in scholarship and importance relative to other literature in the field, and in 2021 his co-authored casebook Comparative Law: Global Legal Traditions (Carolina Academic Press) appeared in print. Professor Bryant’s study of the major West German "Operation Reinhard" death camp investigations and trials of the 1960’s was published in 2014 by the University of Tennessee Press, winning the Book of the Year Award from the American National Chapter, Association Internationale de Droit Penal.
Professor Bryant is also the author of Confronting the "Good Death": Nazi Euthanasia on Trial, 1945-53 (University Press of Colorado, 2005), recipient of the Kayden prize given by the University Press of Colorado for the Best Book Manuscript received by the press in a calendar year; and numerous articles on the postwar adjudication of Nazi-era crimes. He has served as a member of the Peer Review Committee for the Fulbright Senior Specialist Program and is currently a member of the Board of Editors for Human Rights Review. Additionally, he has held fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, the German Exchange Service (DAAD), the U. S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
In addition to serving as a member of Bryant’s faculty, Bryant has taught for The Ohio State University, the University of Toledo, Creighton University Law School and the National Judicial College in the areas of history, criminal justice, law, and human rights. He also served as an Assistant Staff Judge Advocate in the U.S. Air Force (1990-94). He received a B.A. from The Ohio State University, a J.D. from Emory University, and a Ph.D. in Modern European History from The Ohio State University.
For nearly 160 years, Bryant University has been at the forefront of delivering an exceptional education that anticipates the future and prepares students to be innovative leaders of character in a changing world. The University delivers a uniquely integrated academic and student life experience with nationally recognized academic programs at the intersection of business, STEM and the liberal arts. Located on a 428-acre contemporary campus in Smithfield, R.I., Bryant enrolls approximately 3,800 undergraduate and graduate students from 38 states and 49 countries. Bryant is recognized as a top 1% national leader in student education outcomes and ROI and regularly receives high rankings from U.S. News and World Report, Money, Bloomberg Businessweek, Wall Street Journal, College Factual and Barron’s. Visit www.bryant.edu.