Julian Wucherpfennig and Sara Polo awarded NEPS medal for ‘the best publication in Peace Science’

The award recognizes Wucherpfennig and Polo’s groundbreaking research challenging the link between refugees and terrorism.

Julian Wucherpfennig, Professor of International Affairs and Security at the Hertie School, and Sara Polo, Associate Professor at the University of Essex, have been awarded the 'NEPS medal for the best publication in Peace Science' for their paper "Trojan Horse, Copycat, or Scapegoat? Re-examining the Refugee-Terrorism Nexus", published earlier this year in The Journal of Politics.

The NEPS medal is given by the Network of European Peace Scientists to the best publication in peace science published by its members. NEPS represents scholars advancing peace research in Europe across a wide variety of disciplines, from economics to political science to mathematics to history.  

Wucherpfennig and Polo’s analysis of whether a heightened risk of terrorist attacks exists in countries that host refugees was previously awarded the “Best Paper Award” as a working paper by the Conflict Processes Section of the American Political Science Association (APSA) in 2019.

Against the backdrop of recent public debates that have stoked fears of security risks from migrants and refugees, the researchers demonstrated that there is no systematic link between refugee inflows and an upsurge in terrorism in host countries. These findings are based on an analysis of a vast amount of data on refugee flows and global terrorism incidents, coded to reflect where attackers originated from and where attacks took place.

The researchers show that, in fact, refugees themselves are more likely to become the targets of attacks, instead of the other way around. Thus, policy responses that stir public alarm and suspicion towards refugees not only fail to prevent terrorism, but may even heighten the risk of terrorist attacks against refugees.

“We saw that even when refugees came from countries that were home to terrorist organisations, this did not heighten the risk of attacks against citizens of those countries,” writes Wucherpfennig. “Through rigorous quantitative analysis we have seen that there is no systemic effect. This is a causal effect and an extremely robust finding.”

Read the full paper here.

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