Prior to his appointment as director of the CEU School of Public Policy's Global Policy Academy, Bernhard worked for the OSCE, an international organization devoted to ‘hard’ security as well as to human rights diplomacy. He was involved in policy design and public relations, both at the level of field missions (Sarajevo, 1999-2000; Prishtina, 2000-2002) and at the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) in Warsaw (special adviser to the director, 2006-2012). He has held positions at the European Union Monitoring Mission (deputy head, Political and Information Division, Bosnia & Herzegovina, 1998); the United Nations Administration Mission in Kosovo (acting Temporary Media Commissioner, 2003), and with the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Political Directorate, desk officer for EU accession countries, 2005-6).
Bernhard earned a master in law at the University of Vienna and an MA in international relations and economics at Johns Hopkins/SAIS with a focus on IR theory (Bologna and Washington, D.C.). He obtained his PhD from the European University Institute in Florence, Italy, and is the author of Legal Status of Territories Subject to Administration of International Organisations (Cambridge University Press, 2008). He has published widely on human rights protection in post-conflict situations in leading academic journals, including the European Journal of International Law, the Leiden Journal of International Law, the Zeitschrift für ausländisches öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht and the Finnish Yearbook of International Law.
As journalist for Austria's national broadcaster ORF between 1990 and 1996, Bernhard filed radio features from Germany, Poland, Greece, Romania and Croatia, also lecturing radio journalism at the University of Vienna. He was awarded the highest prize in Austrian radio journalism in 1992. He has also written for DIE ZEIT, Foreign Policy and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, among others.