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Unit plan for ages 15-18 in Human Rights and Refugees: The Right to Asylum

Teaching and training materials

Unit plan for ages 15-18 in Human Rights and Refugees: The Right to Asylum

11 May 2007

A small and little known group, The Old Believers, en route from northern China to new homes in Brazil in the wake of World War II.



  • To introduce the concept of asylum
  • To realise that the right to asylum is a basic human right
  • To understand the limits of asylum - who is excluded?
  • To understand the political and economic forces which affect asylum-granting practices
  • To understand the meanings and possible sources of stereotypes, prejudice, racism and discrimination


  • To encourage empathy
  • To avoid stereotyping and excluding people from "our" communities
  • To appreciate the importance of open-mindedness and respect for others, particularly people different from oneself
  • To reflect upon fundamental human rights - those rights to which all human beings are entitled by virtue of their common humanity


  • To practise sensitive enquiry and reasoning skills
  • To recognise prejudice in oneself and others
  • To identify means by which refugees may integrate in their host countries
  • To articulate contrasting feelings
  • To strengthen discussion skills

LESSONS 1 and 2: Asylum



Asylum - a basic human right
The history of the institution of asylum

Introduction: Students are asked for their impressions of the meaning of the term asylum

Development: Exploration of the meaning of asylum, through discussion of article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Students read the article "Safeguarding asylum" and answer comprehension and discussion questions.


At the height of the Cold War, East Europeans were still welcome in the West. Between 1956-57, some 200,000 Hungarians fled after the anti-Soviet revolt in their country, many settling permanently in Europe. 1956.

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

Suggested readings for the teacher:

UNHCR, The State of the World's Refugees 1997-98: A Humanitarian Agenda (Oxford, OUP, 1997), Chapter 5: The Asylum Dilemma, pp. 183-223

UNHCR, Protecting Refugees and the Role of UNHCR

Statute of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [PDF] (1950).

Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees [PDF] (1951).

LESSON 3: Refugees' Experiences in Countries of Asylum: "What's in a name"?



Prejudice, Stereotyping, Racism

In the country of asylum, refugees may be safe from the persecution that they suffered in their own countries, but they face the huge problem of not being thoroughly accepted in their new country.

Using the UNHCR poster What's the Difference? as a springboard for exchange of ideas, students are asked to consider the possible problems of prejudice and stereotyping which refugees at times have to endure in their countries of asylum.


Iraqi refugees try to earn a living in the Sayyida Zeinab market in Damascus.

UNHCR Lego poster entitled What's the Difference?