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Migration researcher Zeynep Şahin Mencütek from the Bonn International Centre for Conflict Studies (BICC) presented her current research on the dimension of international cooperation in connection with the “forced” return of unauthorized migrants and refugees to the Fellows and other interested guests of the Academy at Coffee & Cake.

This is part of the Horizon Europe project “Decentring the Study of Migrant Returns and Readmission Policies in Europe and Beyond” (GAPs), which she is leading together with colleagues from the University of Glasgow (Gerasimos Tsourapas and Samet Apaydın). The group is in the process of developing the research design, including the selection of case pairs and the definition of macro-conditions (e.g. incentives, costs, norms, symbolic gains, bargaining process, type of regime), their measurement and piloting. The research will also include in-depth case analysis at different levels.

Zeynep presented the typology of “return governance” developed by the research group and distinguished the formal policy instruments from the informal implementation practices in each of the three types she identified. She also explained the configuration of the explanatory factors that were applied to the various case studies using Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QLA). In the ensuing discussion, there was a lively debate about the conditions that lead migrants’ destination countries to seek readmission/return agreements. Another topic was the conditions that explain the cooperation or lack of cooperation of destination countries in the return process.


Zeynep Şahin Mencütek
Senior Researcher at Bonn International Centre forConflict Studies (BICC), Germany

Ms. Mencütek co-leads a Horizon Europe project, called GAPs on migrant returns and return policies.  She is also a Research Affiliate with the Canadian Excellence Research Chair in Migration and Integration at Toronto Metropolitan University and conducts joint research on the thematic area of Governance of Migration in a Globalizing World.  She held the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellowship for Experienced Researchers (June 2020–May 2021) and an international fellowship at the Centre for Global Cooperation Research in Duisburg (2019–2020). Previously, she worked as an Assistant Professor in Turkey, and in 2018 achieved the rank of Docent in the field of international relations. Zeynep received her PhD in politics and international relations from the University of Southern California in 2011. Her research interests include politics of migration, migration governance, return migration and Middle East politics. She has published in a wide variety of international peer-reviewed journals in the fields of migration and international politics, Besides dozens of book chapters, she also published a monograph, Refugee Governance, State and Politics in the Middle East(Routledge 2018)  and recently co-authored the book, Syrian Refugees in Turkey (IMISCOE Series, 2023) and an edited volume titled, Migration and City ( IMISCOE Series, 2024). She is the associate editor of Journal of Migration Studies and board member of Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies.


Lisa Hartmann
Public Relations and Events Officer

Academy of International Affairs NRW



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