BC Social Studies Lesson Plans

The Indochina Refugee Crisis: Model UN Simulation

Grade 10


The Indochina Refugee Crisis: Model UN Simulation

Big Idea

Understanding how political decisions are made is critical to being an informed and engaged citizen (from Political Studies 12)

Essential Question

To what extent do countries have the responsibility (humanitarian and/or legal) to take in and/or aid refugees?

Learning Standards Content

Students are expected to know the following:

  • international conflicts and cooperation

Curricular Competencies

Students are expected to be able to do the following:

  • Use Social Studies inquiry processes and skills to ask questions; gather, interpret, and analyze ideas; and communicate findings and decisions

Core Competencies

I can name relevant international laws and treaties relevant to refugees, and summarize the origins of the Indo-China refugee crisis

I can explain the widespread effects of the Indo-China refugee crisis and understand how and why certain nations would have responded in the way they did.

I can consider how a nation’s response to refugees reflects its values, and how a refugee crisis can affect a nation politically, socially, and economically.

First People's Principles of Learning

Learning is holistic, reflexive, reflective, experiential, and relational
  • Think Pair Share: How could a mass migration of refugees affect a nation politically, economically, and socially? What problems could a nation have with a mass migration?
  • Explain that in 1979 the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had a committee session to address this very crisis.

Part 1: Background

  • Show the short video Introduction to Model United Nations (MUN) (2:46).
  • Provide students with the handout “Historical Model UN Simulation”. Explain that students will be participating in a Model UN simulation about the Indochina Refugee Crisis (1945-1997).
  • Engage students in a class discussion:
    • According to the UN, what responsibility do countries have to help people who are displaced by conflict?
    • What problems do displaced people face—in the refugee camps, while they are on the move to seek safety, in the new country, etc.?
    • What challenges does a receiving country face when it accepts a large number of refugees (e.g., cultural, economic, etc.)?

Part 2: Perspective

  • Provide students with the handout “Country Backgrounder” and assign each student to a country.
  • Using their country’s backgrounder and the handout “Indochinese Resettlement from 1975 to 1997” as a starting point, each student should research how the refugee crisis affected their country.
  • Explain that a position paper is a short, written statement about a country’s perspective on an issue.
  • Students should use the handout “Position Paper Organizer” to write a three-paragraph position paper about where their country stands on the refugee crisis, how they have been affected by the refugee crisis, and what recommendations they have for solving the problem.

Part 3: Model UN

  • Show the video How to MUN (5:57).
  • Allow each student (delegate) to make a brief opening statement based on their position paper.

Part 4: Resolutions

  • Encourage delegates with similar stances to come together to form working groups in order to combine ideas and possible solutions into draft resolutions.
  • Provide working groups with the handout Resolution Paper Organizer”.
  • Working group should take turns making motions to bring their resolutions to the floor where it can be presented, debated, and voted upon.
  • The “Model UN Rubric” can be used for summative assessment as well as self-assessment and peer assessment.
  • Compare and contrast the response of nations affected by the Indo-China refugee crisis to nations affected by the modern Rohingya refugee crisis.

            Myanmar Rohingya: What you need to know about the crisis

            Bangladesh refuses to take back Rohingya refugees

Best Delegate. 2021. “Best Delegate Model United Nations.” https://bestdelegate.com/

Model UN at UCLA. 2013. “How to MUN”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6hufLEx_mI

Delegates Handbook Seventy-seventh Session of the United Nations Assembly. 2022. https://www.un.org/en/ga/77/pdf/Delegates_Handbook_2022_EN.pdf

International Treaties and Laws

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. [UNHCR]. 2021. “The 1951 Refugee Convention.” http://www.unhcr.org/1951-refugee-convention.html

United Nations General Assembly. 1989. “Declaration and Comprehensive Plan of Action of the International Conference on Indo-Chinese Refugees, Report of the Secretary-General (A/44/523), 22 September 1989, A/44/523.”  Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugeeshttps://www.refworld.org/docid/3dda17d84.html

United Nations General Assembly. 1979. “Meeting on Refugees and Displaced Persons in South-East Asia, convened by the Secretary-General of the United Nations at Geneva, on 20 and 21 July 1979, and subsequent developments: Report of the Secretary-General, 7 November 1979, A/34/627.” RefWorld. Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.  https://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae68f420.html

See especially paragraphs 1, 5, and 12.


“Asylum and the Rights of Refugees.” [n.d.] International Justice Resource Centrehttp://www.ijrcenter.org/refugee-law/

The Constitute Project. [n.d.] https://www.constituteproject.org/search?lang=en

Library of Congress. Publications of the Law Library of Congress. 2016. “Refugee Law and Policy in Selected Countries.” https://www.loc.gov/item/2016296551/ 

[Access by clicking either on the Download button, or, the “View Enlarged Image” bar.]

United Nations Digital Library. [n.d.] https://digitallibrary.un.org/?ln=en

Wilson Centre. [n.d.] “Digital Archive.” https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/


Carvahlo, R. 14 September 2015. “How Europe can learn from the hard lessons of Hong Kong’s Vietnamese refugee crisis”. South China Morning Post


CBC Digital Archives. [n.d.] “Boat People: A Refugee Crisis.” https://web.archive.org/web/20150501174606/http://www.cbc.ca/archives/topic/boat-people-a-refugee-crisis

Central Intelligence Agency. Directorate of Intelligence. 1983. “Indochinese Refugees: The Continuing Exodus.” https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP84S00558R000400020002-7.pdf

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Last Reviewed

February 01, 2023

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