This module is a resource for lecturers

Additional exercises

Unlike the section ' Exercises', the proposed activities below can be used both as stand-alone exercises or rather as examples to further clarify some key concepts throughout the class. Activities 1 to 3 will particularly useful to generate debates under the section ' Migration and migrant smuggling'.

Activity 1: Borders and Smuggling of Migrants

The lecturer could use the materials available in Fenced Out by the Washington Post to discuss how the establishment of fences in Europe (which aimed to control irregular migration in a moment of exponential influx), rather than limiting irregular migration, simply displaced migration (smuggling) routes and, in some cases, created a greater demand for smuggling services. It will also be possible to discuss the impact of considerable increases in migration flows on migrants themselves and the attitudes of destination countries. The source indicated includes audio-visual materials.

Security, Asylum, Violence Mexico's Southern Border by WOLA (Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas) may further the discussion on the impact of restrictive migration policies on irregular migration and smuggling of migrants.

Activity 2: Causes of Smuggling of Migrants

Proposed questions for student discussion: in your opinion, what are the main causes of smuggling of migrants and who or what entity(ies) bears responsibility for the phenomenon?

It is suggested that the lecturer presents a specific (country or region-focused) case study of complex migratory movements that have led to the proliferation of smuggling of migrants. Merely as an illustration, a reference to the European Union (EU) migration crisis follows. This might be a relevant example given that (i) EU countries are popular destination countries (or transit countries on the way to other destinations), (ii) tragedies occurred in the Mediterranean Sea, which were broadcast worldwide, (iii) there were a range of responses (independent of their success), which show the challenges in effectively addressing migrant smuggling.

Activity 3: Examples of migration causes and motivations

The following cards provide holistic insight into some countries of origin and the reasons that have prompted individuals to migrate, often using the services of smugglers. The students may be divided into groups, with each group given one of the tags. The groups should discuss and - based on their acquired knowledge and the subjects already addressed in the Module - orally present a brief analysis (3-5 min) of the migration causes/motivations in the country assigned. In addition, the lecturer may consider asking the class what they understand by each or some of the terms analyzed in the section ' Mixed migration flows' (e.g. refugee, asylum, economic migrant).


Over 5.4 million people have fled Syria since 2011 to escape the ongoing civil war, seeking safety in Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan. They later often seek to proceed to Western Europe and North America.

UNHCR, Syria Emergency


Afghans remain the largest refugee population of concern to UNHCR in Asia. The volatile security situation in Afghanistan continues to drive displacement, with more than 200 000 people forced to flee their homes in the first eight months of 2017.

UNHCR, Global Focus


The security operations in the Northern Rakhine State in Myanmar in response to the attacks on police and military posts launched on 25 August 2017 by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) triggered the largest and swiftest refugee exodus witnessed in the region in recent decades. With numbers at times reaching 20 000 people per day, 471 000 Rohingyas are estimated to have, as of [September 2017], sought safety in Bangladesh, principally in Cox's Bazar District. There, they have joined 33 000 Rohingyas registered as refugees in the camps in Kutupalong and Nayapar, as well as an estimated 274 500 others, mainly in so-called makeshift camps, and who are denoted as "undocumented Myanmar nationals".

UNHCR, Supplementary Appeal - Myanmar Refugee Emergency Response in Bangladesh

Tunisia - 2012

More than a year after the events of 14 January 2011, the socioeconomic situation of Tunisia remains fragile and the country is facing important challenges. A permanent source of tension is the gap between strong migration pressure and limited legal migration channels. Tunisia has also rapidly become an immigration and transit country, with migrants coming mainly from the Maghreb and from Sub-Saharan Africa whose aim is to reach Europe through irregular migration from the Tunisian coasts. More than 25 500 Tunisians took to the sea in the aftermath of the fall of the Ben Ali regime with the hope of finding work or joining their families or friends in Europe.

IOM, Tunisia - Migration Activities

Activity 4: Human rights implications in countering the Smuggling of Migrants

To the extent it is deemed useful, the lecturer may open the floor for debate on the basis of the following questions:

  • How do you understand the paradox in the human rights discourse regarding countering smuggling of migrants? Please justify your answer.
  • How do you apply human rights considerations when reflecting on smuggling of migrants? Please address the question from the perspective, at least, of States (of both origin and transit) and migrants.
  • Do you consider that tightening border controls is effective in the fight against smuggling of migrants? Should it be complemented with other measures? Please explain.
  • Is the State entitled (legally and ethically) to close its borders to migrants in all circumstances? Please elaborate.
  • What considerations do you draw from the quoted excerpt from the European Commission 2015 Report?

Note: Except for the last one, related questions are posed in the context of ' Exercise 1' .

Activity 5: The organization of Smuggling of Migrants and Smugglers' profiles

It is suggested that the lecturer opens the floor for debate on the profile of smugglers in the country and/or region where the Module is taught.

The lecturer could ask students to develop a table to describe the different types of smuggling ventures and related smugglers' profiles. Different criteria could be used, such as the motivation of migrants in resorting to smuggling services or the modus operandi of smugglers. The lecturer could further discuss the usefulness and/or adequacy of the different models (or others) in understanding the complexity of smuggling of migrants and/or vis-à-vis the objectives of the discipline taught. This exercise could also be assigned as homework, thus allowing students to carry out additional research.

Next: Possible class structure
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