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

F. Amahazion

Social Sciences

2016; Epub October 27


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.

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