This page provides information on:

  • General Training – General awareness and knowledge of legal aid, human rights frameworks and refugee law.
  • Specific Training – Expertise and knowledge in the fields of: Country of Origin expert research and writing, the refugee status determination process, refugee protection and resettlement; and legal aid and mental health and psychosocial assessment .


1 General Materials essential to International Refugee Law

General Refugee Law Principles

Watch What is a Refugee? By William Maley, Professor of Diplomacy, Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy, Australian National University. You can watch this video here. (28 mins)
It provides an introduction to the complex idea of ‘the refugee’. The talk includes differentiating between migrants, asylum seekers, displaced persons and refugees, the post-war origins of modern refugee protections, the legal definition of a refugee and the current European refugee crisis.

Watch The Refugee Convention in 60 seconds by Free Movement. This gives a quick overview of who is classed as a refugee under the international legal instrument of the 1951 Refugee convention. You can watch this video here. (1 min)

Watch James C. Hathaway on the 1951 Refugee Convention by The Ethics Centre for an in-depth analysis of the Refugee Convention which is very easy to understand. You can watch this video here. (20 mins).

UNHCR has produced a series of self-taught modules for those requiring a basis in refugee law and the work of UNHCR in particular. Here are two helpful introductory modules for a deeper insight into refugee law.

Procedures and Criteria for Determining Refugee Status under the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees

Published by the UNHCR, this updated version of the handbook provides key information concerning accessions to the international refugee instruments including details of declarations on the geographical applicability and all provisions of the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol. It can be accessed here.

Researching Country of Origin Information 

A training manual on researching country of origin information. It is useful to those who have no experience in writing declarations on behalf of asylum seekers.

Confidentiality and Ethics – The Nairobi Code

All lawyers who have passed the Bar in their countries sign an ethical code. The reason that the Nairobi Code is recommended for all who practise refugee law is that particular issues arise when representing them and because many non-governmental organisations employ paralegals who have not signed an ethical code because they are not members of any Bar organisation. The Nairobi Code is available in English, French, Spanish, Croatian, Slovenian, Chinese and Russian. We recommend it for all who represent refugees, whether lawyers or not.

2 Long Term Courses

General training on international refugee law, refugee status and human rights

Note: all courses are FREE of charge.

Human Rights: The Rights of Refugees
3-5 hours per week. 3 weeks long. You can access this course here.   
Amnesty International introduces this course to enable you to find the answers and empower yourself to defend and promote the rights of refugees and discover how you can be part of the solution. The course explores: how to explain and defend the human rights of refugees, the role of governments in preventing human rights violations against refugees, how to challenge misconceptions, prejudices and discriminatory attitudes and behaviours towards refugees and asylum seekers and how to take action to protect the rights of people in need of international protection. The course is also available in French and Spanish.

Refugees in the 21st Century
4-6 hours per week. 6 weeks long. You can access this course here.
The University of London International Programmes introduces this course which provides insight into the refugee phenomenon as one of the most complex, compelling and (arguably) misunderstood features of the 21st century. Taking a global perspective, it will outline the fundamentals of who ‘refugees’ are, where they come from and where they go, as well as delving into the features of the global system for refugee protection and ‘solutions’ for those who have been forcibly displaced.

International migrations: a global issue
7 weeks long with approximately 23 hours to complete. You can access this course here.
Offered by  Institut d’études politiques  (IEP)/The Paris Institute of Political Studies in France, this course aims at improving knowledge of the subject, addressing the key issues raised by international migration, and assessing the trends of tomorrow. the course lasts seven weeks and focuses on various themes related to migration: – Globalization of migration; Refugees and environmentally displaced persons; Europe; France and international migration flows; Citizenship and migration; Borders; and the Right to mobility and global governance. Course materials/text are in English and the videos are in French with English subtitles.

Humanitarian Response to Conflict and Disaster 

Humanitarian emergencies have reached an unprecedented scale around the globe. From the Syrian refugee crisis to the outbreak of the coronavirus, there is an urgent need for humanitarian action to alleviate human suffering. In this course, you will learn about the legal frameworks of humanitarian action and how the principles guiding humanitarian responses are applied during emergencies. Beyond that, you will analyze major trends in humanitarian work and what challenges humanitarians face during their work assignments. This course takes roughly 5 weeks to complete and covers a variety of case studies from around the world. The course is ideal for early-career humanitarian practitioners, scholars, policymakers, and everyone else with an interest in humanitarian action.

General training on working with refugees

Working Supportively With Refugees: Principles, Skills and Perspectives
4 hours per week. 3 weeks long.
*free access to this course for 5 weeks. You can access this course here.
The University of Glasgow delivers this course on interdisciplinary approaches to working with refugees. It combines principles of psychological well-being, intercultural communication, interpretation and conflict management to help learners to understand who refugees are and how learners can support the integration of refugees in the receiving countries. Topics covered include: the basics about human migration, refugees and legal framework; cultural diversity and interethnic relations; socialisation, conflict resolution and social inclusion; principles on psychological well-being and socio-emotional health in refugee cases. Strategies for the mediator to support the target group and their own self-care; communication and interpreting in contexts of cultural mediation; and the practice of cultural mediation in the reality of refugees.

Volunteering with refugees
3 weeks duration and 4 hours weekly study, access the course for free here
Developed by a group of experts from Crisis Classroom and Cambridge English, this course aims to help volunteers understand how they can best support the linguistic and social needs of refugees. The course is designed to give volunteers an understanding of the backgrounds, current situations and needs of refugees from a wide range of contexts. The course provides strategies and techniques for supporting the diverse needs of refugees and has a specific focus on language support, which may be provided in formal or informal settings. Topics covered include: refugees’ contexts and needs; linguistic and cultural differences; building relationships: topics and activities; the Crisis Classroom; understanding and working with trauma; using the Crisis Classroom Framework; structuring learning; supporting learning; and resources for language learning and refugee support

Migrants and Refugees in Education: A toolkit for teachers
4 weeks long and approximately 3 hours weekly study to complete, access the course for free here
The British Council offers this course to teachers/volunteers working in migrant and refugee education to help students dealing with trauma. In this course, learners will hear from experienced teachers on the challenges of refugee education. They’ll share experiences of what they’ve learned and strategies they’ve used when teaching migrant learners both in countries affected by conflict and in host countries. They will also learn how to build inclusive classrooms and develop their learners’ confidence, taking into account the languages they know and their cultures. Topics covered include: conflict in context: local responses to global migrations; planning, managing and designing activities; primary and secondary school students; and protective factors for teachers and learners.

UNHCR self-study modules  

UNHCR has produced a series of self-taught modules for those requiring a basic and a deeper understanding of refugee law, the relationship between refugee protection and human rights, and the work of UNHCR in particular.


1 Specific Material for selected Regions

A selection of training manuals, glossaries and videos to help identify and protect refugees.


Handbook on European Law Relating to Asylum, Borders and Immigration: European Court of Human Rights and European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights Handbook on European law relating to asylum, borders and immigration. 

Booklet on the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU to asylum procedural law: This booklet, published by the ECRE and the Dutch Council for Refugees, is designed to assist legal practitioners supporting those who are in need of international protection. The booklet provides an overview of secondary legislation relevant in the context of the asylum procedure and explains how the Charter can be used to enhance protection.

Réfugiés et Immigrants: un glossaire, Conseil Canadien pour les Réfugiés: Ce glossaire sur les réfugiés et immigrants est recommandé. De nombreux termes sont utilisés pour parler des réfugiés et des immigrants. Certains ont une signification juridique, d’autres ont une connotation péjorative. L’utilisation des termes appropriés est essentielle au respect des personnes et favorise la tenue d’un débat éclairé dans ce domaine, et cet glossaire est une bonne ressource pour la formation.

UNHCR Protection Training Manual for European Border and Entry Officials: UNHCR’s Protection Training Manual for European Border and Entry Officials has been developed in connection with UNHCR’s 10-Point Plan of Action, which was launched in 2006 to help governments identify and protect refugees within increasingly complex population flows.

The Qualifications Directive: an overview and specific safeguards inserted by the European Parliament in the negotiations. Patricia van de Peer – a video made available by the European Law Observatory. You can watch this video here.

Syrian refugees seeking protection in the EU: putting the Common European Asylum System to the test? Madeline Garlick – a video made available by the European Law Observatory. You can watch this video here.

The EU’s Common European Asylum System and the Crisis of Unsafe Arrival of Asylum Seekers. Professor Elspeth Guild – a video made available by the European Law Observatory.  You can watch this video here

Statelessness in Europe: This course on statelessness of the European Network on Statelessness is useful for lawyers, NGOs and others working with asylum, immigration or human rights, civil servants in central and local government, people working for the European Union institutions, academics and students, as well as journalists. It is advertised as taking no more than three hours to complete.


Talking About Refugees and Immigrants: A Glossary, Canadian Council for Refugees: This Refugees and Immigrants Glossary, a two-page document gives a clear rundown of the terms used in refugee/immigration discourse and may be a useful starting point for training purposes, though some parts are specific to the Canadian system.


The National Immigrant Justice Center’s Basic Procedural Manual for Asylum Representation: The National Immigrant Justice Center’s Basic Procedural Manual for Asylum Representation is recommended. Although much of it deals with US law and procedure that may not be relevant in other jurisdictions, some sections, like “Preparing for the Hearing on the Merits” starting on p. 35, have lots of good general information on how to interview clients and prepare a case.

The Heartland Alliance’s (previously Midwest Immigrant and Human Rights Center) Immigration Equality Asylum Manual: The Midwest Immigrant and Human Rights Center provides an online Immigration Equality Asylum Manual. The manual focuses mainly on LGBT claims, but it also provides general asylum practice advice.

The Advocates for Human Rights’ Pro Bono Asylum Representation Manual: An Overview of Asylum Law & Procedure: Advocates for Human Rights offer an online Pro Bono Asylum, Representation Manual. Applicable practice information generally covers Preparing the Asylum Application, Interviewing the Client, Establishing Trust with Your Client, Overcoming Cultural Barriers, Dealing with Psychological Barriers, Interviewing through an Interpreter, various Practice Pointers, Affidavits, Corroborative Evidence, Personal Documentation, Material Witnesses, Country Conditions Documentation, Expert Witnesses, and more.


UNHCR Protection Training Manual for European Border and Entry Officials: UNHCR’s Protection Training Manual for European Border and Entry Officials has been developed in connection with UNHCR’s 10-Point Plan of Action, which was launched in 2006 to help governments identify and protect refugees within increasingly complex population flows.

2 A selection of particularities in refugee law

The role of Country of Origin Information in refugee status determination
This is a 4-hour course with a follow-up test for Country of Origin Information (COI) experts. It focuses on the role of COI and the application of quality standards for COI in refugee status determination procedures. It can be accessed here. All materials of Disaster Ready are FREE to access, but you must register to access the materials provided.

Detention and immigration 
This 3-hour course is for legal aid providers. You will learn why detention in the immigration context must only be used for exceptions and the importance of complying with safeguards provided in international law. This course explains the fundamental concepts and definitions of detention and practice skills related to the assessment of detention decisions. It provided by Disaster Ready can be accessed here. All materials are FREE, but you will need to register to access the materials.

Judicial independence in refugee law adjudication  
Sir Stephen Sedley – a video made available by the European Law Observatory. You can watch this video here.

The expert in asylum and human rights cases: possibilities for use and abuse.
Justice Geoffrey Care – a video made available by the European Law Observatory. You can watch this video here.

Assessing the credibility of women’s asylum claims
Debora Singer – a video made available by the European Law Observatory. You can watch this video here. Also see Asylum Aid’s research project of UK investigating the addition hurdles that women face when making asylum claims. In particular, persecution on the grounds of gender raises questions of who the agent of persecution is and the specific issue that much harm faced by women occurs within the private sphere. A video free to view is available here

Membership of a particular social group
Professor Deborah Anker – a video made available by the European Law Observatory. You can watch this video here.

The particular challenges of national security cases
Hugh Southey – a video made available by the European Law Observatory. You can watch this video here.

The concept of persecution and its interpretation on the basis of human dignity
Professor Justice Paul Tiedemann – a video made available by the European Law Observatory. You can watch this video here.

Assessing Credibility and Refugee Status (UK)
These instructions are designed for UK officers but are useful guidance for interviewing refugees.

Asylum based on LGBTQ+ identity Workshop
Organised by Khalique Law, this workshop video (particularly useful from 12.25) outlines the ways in which one can apply for asylum – specifically in the US context – as someone in the LGBTQ+ community. See a free to watch video here here

Legal aid and mental health & psychosocial assessment during RSD procedures

UNHCR RSD Procedural Standards Unit 2.9: Applicants with Mental Health Conditions or Intellectual Disabilities in UNHCR RSD Procedures (2020) UNHCR – This resource outlines general considerations that should be made by all those involved in relation to applicants with mental health conditions or intellectual disabilities.  Also notes procedural safeguards and support measures that should be taken during the refugee application process.

Handbook on Procedures and Criteria for Determining Refugee Status under the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees (2019) UNHCR – These guidelines most suitable for legal advisors in establishing a burden of proof during refugee status determination process highlight that where a medical report is obtained, conclusions of the report should shape the approach of UNHCR officials responsible for determining the individual’s refugee claim. Burden of proof should be lightened for ‘mentally disturbed persons’.

Interviewing Applicants for Refugee Status (RLD 4) (1995) UNHCR – targeting legal advisors, this training resources informs on how mentally disturbed applicants’ require special care when being interviewed. Interviewers must not expect applicants to remember all details. Traumatized individuals may omit information or provide inaccurate information, does not mean dishonest.

Managing and Understanding Psychological Issues among Refugee Applicants (2013) UNSW – this research report and guidelines are suitable for use by psychologists, psychiatrists and legal advisors when writing export reports used in the refugee status determination process. Specifically, this resource provides:

  • Guidelines for mental health professionals on how to write expert reports used in the refugee application process
  • Guidelines for how refugee representatives should use expert mental health reports in the refugee’s application process
  • Guidelines for the decision makers in a refugee status application, specifically on how to understand and interpret mental health issues concerning refugees

Institutions training in refugee law and protection

International Association of Refugee and Migration Judges (IARMJ)

The International Association Refugee and Migration Judges seeks to foster recognition that judges have a role in determining issues around migration law such as handling refugee status, complementary protection as well as rights and obligations. In this role, judges are required to consider core principles of the international rule of law such as human rights law and practice, international humanitarian law and concepts of human dignity and human security. 

IARMJ has four regional chapters:

Judicial Institute for Africa (JIFA)

Based at the Faculty of Law, University of Cape Town, the JIFA complements work being done by domestic judicial institutes in Africa where they exist and offer opportunities for judges from jurisdictions where there are no judicial institutes to participate in courses for professional development. JIFA offers, designs and present bespoke courses on request including on refugee law. Following the signing of the tripartite MOU recently between JIFA, the International Association of Refugees and Migration Judges (IARMJ) and the Office of the United High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), JIFA has established a Centre of Excellence offering refugee training for judges, magistrates, and lawyers. They also offer a bouquet of ongoing resources and support to judges post training. JIFA is a member of the Global Judicial Integrity Network (GJIN)

International Institute of Humanitarian Law – Sanremo Institute

Based in Sanremo, Italy, the International Institute of Humanitarian Law as known as the Sanremo Institute is an independent, nonprofit, humanitarian organization with more than 50 years of experience in the promotion of international humanitarian law, international refugee law, and human rights. Through its Refugee Department, the Institute develops and delivers capacity-building programs (both in person and online courses) for mid and senior-level government officials, members of civil society, staff of international organizations, academia, and journalists engaged in work with people in need of protection. It also has a free to access online resource library on refugee law, migration law and international humanitarian law. The Institute is a partner of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The Institute also enjoys consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council and participatory status with the Council of Europe.


General Documentaries on the realities of refugee crises.

Human Flow (2017)
2 hr 20 mins
A documentary that follows the migratory situation in different countries around the world. More than 65 million people around the world have been forced from their homes to escape famine, climate change and war, the greatest displacement since World War II. Filmmaker Ai Weiwei examines the staggering scale of the refugee crisis and its profoundly personal human impact. Over the course of one year in 23 countries, Weiwei follows a chain of urgent human stories that stretch across the globe, including Afghanistan, France, Greece, Germany and Iraq. This is available to BUY on Google Play.

The following documentaries are provided by the Legal Centre, a small group of legally trained international volunteers based in Lesvos. They provide legal information and assistance to asylum seekers and migrants, whilst supporting Greek lawyers in their provision of legal advice and representation.

Moria 35 (2017) 
28 mins
A documentary produced by Joinda Production in collaboration with the Legal Centre chronicles the months of organized resistance by migrants in Moria Refugee Camp in 2017, prior to the 18 July 2017 violent police raid and arbitrary arrest of 35 men who face trumped-up criminal charges.

Inadmissible (2017)
36 mins
A documentary produced by Thraedable in collaboration with the Legal Centre highlights the various and severe breaches of human rights on the island of Lesvos.

Page last updated 19 Sept 2022