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24 Sep 2015

International Migration, Health and Human Rights

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In this publication, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) explore the multifaceted health and human rights challenges that migrants face and report on recent developments in this area. The aim of this publication is to provide all stakeholders with a reference on key health and human rights issues in the context of international migration. It is meant to provide inspiration to policymakers to devise migration policies and programmes that are guided by public health considerations and human rights imperatives, with a view to protecting the human rights and improving the health of both migrants and the communities in which they live.

Given the complex interlinkages among the domains of human rights, health and international migration and the widely differing national and regional circumstances, this publication does not try to make broad recommendations. Instead it reflects on the developments that have occurred over recent years and attempts to stimulate debate and bring attention to migration related health matters by using a human rights-based approach. It argues that the realization of the rights of migrants is a sound public health practice that benefits all and provides new information, accomplishments and challenges with regard to international migration, health and human rights. It examines the effects of the migration process on migrant health, as well as the protection offered to migrants through human rights instruments. The publication does not focus in any way on the migration of health workers, but instead covers migrants in general, regardless of occupation, skill level and legal status during migration.

The first section of this publication provides an overview of contemporary migration patterns, scope and trends. The second section discusses the human right to health and other relevant human rights in the context of health and migration. Section Three considers the various ways in which the health of migrants is affected throughout the course of the migration process, from the initial decision to move, during the journey itself, to reception in the new community and until the potential return. Examples illustrate the challenges faced by migrants, policymakers, health planners, international organizations and other stakeholders and demonstrate efforts and developments that can stimulate future approaches to improving the health of migrants. Annexes provide a glossary, as well as a list of international instruments relevant to the discussion on health, human rights and migration.

  • Acknowledgments
  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • Section 1. International Migration: Scope and Trends
  • Section 2. Migrants and the Right to Health
  • Section 3. Health Challenges of the Migration Process
  • Conclusions
  • Annex I. Glossary
  • Annex II. International Instruments and Mechanisms Relevant to Health and Migration