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Vulnerability, irregular migrants' health-related rights and the European Court of Human Rights

Da Lomba, Sylvie (2014) Vulnerability, irregular migrants' health-related rights and the European Court of Human Rights. European Journal of Health Law, 21 (4). 339 – 364.

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Abstract

The protection of irregular migrants’ health-related rights brings to the fore the tensions that exist between human rights, citizenship and the sovereign state, and exposes the protection gaps in the international human rights regime. With this in mind, I consider the merits of a vulnerability analysis in international human rights law (IHRL). I posit that, detached from specific groups and reconceptualised as universal, vulnerability can be reclaimed as a foundation and tool of IHRL. I further contend that the deployment of a vulnerability analysis can alleviate the exclusionary dimension of IHRL and extend protections to irregular migrants. On this basis, I investigate the development of a vulnerability analysis in the case law of the European Court of Human Rights. I argue that, in contrast with the Court’s vulnerable population approach, a vulnerability analysis can improve protection standards for irregular migrants in the field of health.