Cover image: International Migrants Day

International Migrants Day

Every 18th of December.

Highlighting the importance of migration and the rights of migrants. 

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Updated 1 year ago

About the event

This day, inaugurated by the UN in 2000, marks the date on which the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers was adopted in 1990. Coordinated by the UN’s International Organization of Migration, the day focuses on highlighting the importance of the world’s 272 million migrants, their rights, their huge contributions to society and the challenges facing them.

How to approach it

This day is about migrants in all their forms. Refugees, economic migrants, expats and everything in between. Migration is a fact of life with humans moving around long before borders were built to regulate this movement. As the world changes around communities and individuals there are ever changing needs to relocate and this phenomenon is set to continue. 

The characterisation above is a useful one because migration should be viewed as normal, expected and useful. This is the appropriate angle to take with your class. Work with them to discuss all the different kinds of reasons people might choose to migrate to other places. It might be to flee something like war or persecution, it might be for more work opportunities or it might simply be for the dream of living in a different part of the world. You could, for example, watch our resource Fatima’s Drawings to see a young Syrian refugee talk about her experiences. Or have a look at the really useful Our Migration Story, which tracks Britians long history of migration from the Roman period to the modern day.

It’s a good idea to work on building students' empathy today. Using the above reasons as a starting point, ask: what would it feel like to experience these different causes of migration? How would it feel to make the brave decision to migrate somewhere else? Would it be exciting? Scary? Dehumanising? 

Finally, contrast this regular need for migration with the actions of states that demonise and shut out migrants. Ask: why do we make it so difficult for others to migrate? Show that far from being a burden, migrants regularly flourish in their new homes. You can show this by looking at the many case studies of famous refugees (such as Albert Einstein) or the richness that refugees have brought to our own culture using Groundwork’s Cultural Heritage of Refugees pack.

Organised by

United Nations

Conversation starter

A migrant is someone who moves from one place in the world to another. They can move to another region in their country or to a different country altogether. Migrants might be moving for work, to be closer to their families, or even escaping war or famine. If you moved to another country, how would you feel? If someone moves to our country, how can we make them feel welcome?