Lesson plans for ages 15-18 in Human Rights and Refugees: The Right to Asylum

Teaching Tools, 13 May 2007

© UNHCR/X.Creach
A UNHCR staff member talks to DiƱa who could not get to the local hospital to give birth because she lacked the necessary documentation.

LESSONS 1 and 2: Asylum

Preparation

Have ready a copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, prepared on an overhead transparency.

Make copies of Chapter 2, "Safeguarding asylum", from The State of the World's Refugees: Human Displacement in the New Millennium.

Introduction

Ask the students to give their ideas on what is asylum. Some may describe an institution for mentally ill or handicapped people. Do not reject this idea, but use it to probe the deeper meaning of the notion refuge, safety, protection from persecution.

Development

Distribute a copy of the following paragraph, taken from The State of the World's Refugees: The Challenge of Protection (Geneva, UNHCR, 1993), page 6:

The process of becoming a refugee is not instantaneous. It proceeds through the often slow growth of root causes to the sometimes quite sudden flash of an immediate catalyst that generates actual flight. Asylum follows when another state grants those in flight access to its territory and extends protection to them. Finally, for the more fortunate, a permanent resolution of their status is sought and found, and they cease to be refugees.

Ask the students: What does the underlined sentence suggest that the right to asylum might mean?

The right to seek asylum is found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 14, which states that:

Hand out copies of Chapter 2, "Safeguarding asylum", from The State of the World's Refugees: Human Displacement in the New Millennium and ask the students to read it quietly by themselves and to write answers to the following questions:

Comprehension and discussion questions