International Migrants Day

December 18


Credit: UN Photo / Used with permission

Teachers: Visit the free MY HERO Lesson Plan for International Migrants Day. Includes discussion guide and learning outcomes.


On December 18, 1990, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.

On December 4, 2000, the General Assembly established December 18 as International Migrants Day.

On September 19, 2016 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants (NY Declaration), committing to strengthen and enhance ways to protect migrants.



Migrants are those who leave their country, usually to seek a better life. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated:

"Migration has always been with us. Climate change, demographics, instability, growing inequalities, and aspirations for a better life, as well as unmet needs in labour markets, mean it is here to stay. The answer is effective international cooperation in managing migration to ensure that its benefits are most widely distributed, and that the human rights of all concerned are properly protected." 

As of 2015, there were approximately 244 million international migrants, with nearly two-thirds in Europe and one-third in Asia. Research has shown migration can be beneficial for both the country of origin and the destination country of migrants.

Did You Know?

In the US alone, "immigrants have founded or co-founded companies such as Google, Intel, WhatsApp, PayPal, eBay, Tesla and Yahoo! Although they make up less than 15 percent of the population, skilled immigrants account for over half of Silicon Valley start-ups and over half of patents." -


Stories Exploring the Lives of Migrants for Greater Understanding

Cesar Chavez

By: Marilyn B
Cesar Chavez was a migrant farm worker and civil rights activist who co-founded the United Farm Workers Association.

Hyeonseo Lee

By: Eva Gravin
North Korean Hyeonseo Lee hid in China for 10 years before guiding her family and herself to South Korea for asylum.

Budi and Peggy Soehardi Roslin Orphanage

By: Wendy Jewell and David Kemker
Budi and Peggy Soehardi Roslin Orphanage provides a loving home to care for displaced and orphaned children in East Timor.

Dorothea Lange

By: Amanda from San Diego
"To live a visual life is an enormous undertaking, practically unattainable... But I have only touched it, just touched it." -Dorothea Lange

These Stories Have Audio So Students Can Listen as They Read Along

Judith Ann Mayotte

By: Monica Olson
Judith Ann Mayotte is a former Catholic nun, television producer and humanitarian who wrote "Disposable People? The Plight of Refugees" in 1992.

Johann Olav Koss: Right To Play

By: Wendy Jewell from The My Hero Project
Johann Olav Koss is a Norwegian Olympian who founded Right to Play.

Mural artcreated as a cross-cultural activity reveal the beauty in diversity and the stories that immigration brings to a community 

The Global Refugee Mural

By: Joel Bergner

The Global Refugee Mural created by Joel Bergner with Action Ashe! Global Mural Project is in Maryland to illustrate the different cultures found in this vibrant community.

Across The Waves

By: Joel Bergner

This mural created by Joel Bergner with Action Ashe! Global Mural Project is located in the Highlandtown neighborhood of Baltimore, celebrating the history and culture of the immigrants of the community.

Our Dreams and Treasures

By: Okazakijosei High School in Japan and Iraqi/Palestinian Refugee Team in Jord...

High school students from different backgrounds illustrate their hopes and origins in this mural achieved in Jordan as part of a cross-cultural activity.

Films that Shed an Intimate Light on Migration 

Missing Migrants

Raj Yagnik, Kris Genjin
In the last 6 years more than 40,000 people have disappeared on migration journeys. Most of their families don’t know they're alive or dead.

Illegitimate Voice

Taylor Bazile, Will Casse, Uma Chatterjee,, Ashley Clark, Victoria Cruell, Pedro...
Stefie Gan recounts her experiences with culture shock, racism, and ultimately activism after moving from Malaysia to the United States.

Is the Taliban's return the end of music in Afghanistan?

Cormac Walter O'Brien
"As the Taliban take control, members of 'Zohra', Afghanistan's first all-female orchestra, wonder what's next for their music and rights as women.

Gray Areas

Produced by:Cheri Gaulke, Jackson Kroopf, and Alethea Paradis
Two U.S. teens travel to the U.S.-Mexico border to explore the gray areas of governmental policies and human experience in this contested region.

HIAS - For the Refugee

This film was produced for World Refugee Day, to publicise and spread awareness on HIAS' mission and values for the last 130 years.

The Fabric of America

Produced by:Gandhi Brigade Youth Media

This film explores the many issues underlying the broken immigration system and shows how these issues manifest locally, in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Newswire Stories

Researchers ponder new Rust Belt identity: climate migrant haven
Credit: David Joels/Star Tribune/AP
Migrants left home for a reason. Returning is a struggle.
Credit: Ashley Okwuosa
Africa rises for immigrant rights
Credit: Reuters


South Asian Asylum Seekers Find Healing and Hope After Sheridan Heartbreak
Credit: Law at the Margins

'Illegitimate Voice': Finalist in the 18th Annual Film Festival 2022

By: Naomi Gledhill

Organizer created on 12/16/2015 12:11:53 PM by Becky Miller

Last edited 12/14/2022 8:57:59 AM by Abigail Richardson