Irregular migrants and the human right to health care: a case-study of health-care provision for irregular migrants in France and the UK

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International human rights law attaches the right of health care to the person. States, however, predicate this right on membership in the national community and access to publicly subsidised health care is normally contingent on national membership. With this in mind, this article considers the significance of a human rights approach to access to health care and undertakes a comparative study of health-care provision for irregular migrants in France and the UK. Irregular migrants are ineligible for national membership because they have breached immigration laws. Consequently their right to health care may only arise from international human rights law. This comparative study, however, shows that states resist the idea of a right to health care for people they regard as a threat to national sovereignty. Yet the author posits that the exercise of the government's immigration power may be reconciled with the realisation of irregular migrants' human right to health care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-374
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Law in Context
Issue numberSpecial issue 03
Early online date20 Sep 2011
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2011


  • rights of the individual
  • UK
  • France
  • Irregular migrants
  • health care

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