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Epistemic Communities, Human Rights, and the Global Diffusion of Legislation against the Organ Trade


  • Fikresus Amahazion

    () (Department of Sociology and Social Work, National College of Arts and Social Sciences, Asmara 12423, Eritrea)


Over the past several decades, over 100 countries have passed legislation banning commercial organ transplantation. What explains this rapid, global diffusion of laws? Based on qualitative data from in-depth interviews, historical analysis, and secondary sources, this paper explores the role played by the medical epistemic community and human rights in the global spread of laws against the organ trade. In addition to shaping, guiding, and influencing norms and approaches to transplantation, the epistemic community has been instrumental in the development of various resolutions, policy initiatives, recommended practices, statements, legislation, and model laws. Moreover, the epistemic community helped position the organ trade as an issue of societal and global importance, and it persistently encouraged states to undertake actions, such as implementing legislation, to combat the organ trade. Critically, the epistemic community’s efforts against the organ trade incorporated the concepts of human rights, integrity, and dignity, which had diffused globally and become institutionalized in the period after WWII.

Suggested Citation

  • Fikresus Amahazion, 2016. "Epistemic Communities, Human Rights, and the Global Diffusion of Legislation against the Organ Trade," Social Sciences, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(4), pages 1-31, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jscscx:v:5:y:2016:i:4:p:69-:d:81521

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Haas, Peter M., 1992. "Introduction: epistemic communities and international policy coordination," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(01), pages 1-35, December.
    2. Haas, Peter M., 1989. "Do regimes matter? Epistemic communities and Mediterranean pollution control," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 43(03), pages 377-403, June.
    3. Ruggie, John Gerard, 1975. "International responses to technology: Concepts and trends," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 29(03), pages 557-583, June.
    4. Finnemore, Martha & Sikkink, Kathryn, 1998. "International Norm Dynamics and Political Change," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 52(04), pages 887-917, September.
    5. Adler, Emanuel & Haas, Peter M., 1992. "Conclusion: epistemic communities, world order, and the creation of a reflective research program," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(01), pages 367-390, December.
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    More about this item


    world culture; human rights; organ trafficking; policy diffusion; epistemic communities; law; policy;

    JEL classification:

    • A - General Economics and Teaching
    • B - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology
    • N - Economic History
    • P - Economic Systems
    • Y80 - Miscellaneous Categories - - Related Disciplines - - - Related Disciplines
    • Z00 - Other Special Topics - - General - - - General


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