Complex Norm Localization: From Price Competitiveness to Local Production in East African Community Pharmaceutical Policy

Peg Murray-Evans, Peter O'Reilly

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This article offers a critical contribution to debates around access to medicines and the global politics of pharmaceutical production in Africa. Specifically, we seek to account for a normative shift within these debates whereby the promotion of local pharmaceutical production in Africa has once again come to be viewed as a central modality for achieving access to health across the continent. While the onset of this normative shift has been highlighted by the global Covid-19 pandemic, in this article we argue that its antecedents can be traced to a more incremental process of global and regional normative change that has been in motion since the late 1990s. To illustrate this, we narrow our empirical focus onto the East African Community and the regional initiatives its members have pursued to promote local pharmaceutical production capacities since 2012. We draw and build upon the literature on norm localization to emphasize how the emergence and distinctiveness of this policy reflected the complex way in which policy actors within the EAC sought to localize and combine separate (and somewhat competing) changing global norms around access to health and industrial policy. The article also points to the tensions and unintended consequences which emerged from this complex process of norm localization and the challenges of implementing this strategy within the institutional landscape of the EAC.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of International Relations
Early online date12 Sept 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Sept 2022

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2022


  • regionalism
  • East African Community
  • Access to health care
  • industrialization
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • norm localization

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