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

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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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339–364
Number of pages26
JournalEuropean Journal of Health Law
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2014


  • vulnerability
  • European Court of Human Rights
  • vulnerable groups
  • irregular migrants
  • health-related rights

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