Advocates against forced labor in the Uzbek cotton sector spoke out again today in letters to the Danish European Union Presidency – Minister of Foreign Affairs Villy Søvndal and Representative to the Political and Security Committee Ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen – and to High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton. Fifteen nongovernmental organizations appealed to the European Union to urge the Uzbek government to take immediate steps to end forced labor, including the state-sponsored mobilization of children, beginning with acceptance of a high-level tripartite mission of the International Labour Organisation to monitor the 2012 cotton harvest.
The letters also ask the EU to make clear to the Uzbek government that if it does not allow unfettered monitoring by a tripartite ILO mission and commit to implementing its recommendations, the EU will critically review and open an investigation into Uzbekistan’s inclusion in the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP).
The letters arrive as the annual International Labour Conference commences, and worker, employer and government delegations prepare to discuss the Uzbekistan case in the tripartite Committee on the Application of Standards, during the first week of June. Despite numerous recommendations from the ILO, beginning with the Committee of Experts’ examination of forced labour in 2009, the government of Uzbekistan has repeatedly failed to invite a high-level tripartite monitoring mission of the ILO and denied the existence of forced labour. The Cotton Campaign urges delegations to the ILC to note with great concern the continued failure by the Uzbek government, over several years, to eliminate serious discrepancies in its application of the conventions on the prohibition of forced labour and elimination of the worst forms of child labour.
View the letters by clicking here:
Cotton Campaign Letter to the Danish EU Presidency.
The Cotton Coalition signatories to the letters included:
Association for Human Rights in Central Asia
Kampagne für Saubere Kleidung
European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights
Environmental Justice Foundation
Eurasian Transition Group
Expert Working Group – Uzbekistan
Ilmarinen Mutual Pension Insurance Company
GES Investment Services
Human Rights Watch
Inkota netzwerk e.V.
International Crisis Group
International Labor Rights Forum
Open Society Foundations
Responsible Sourcing Network
Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights