A Roadmap of Reforms to End State-Sponsored Forced Labor in Uzbekistan
Washington, D.C. – June 26, 2019 – Today, the Cotton Campaign publicly releases its Roadmap of Reforms for Uzbekistan. The Roadmap is informed by wide-ranging consultations with our partners and our dialogue with the Government of Uzbekistan over the last year. Its purpose is to support the historic process of reform that is underway to eliminate and prevent forced labor in Uzbekistan’s cotton sector.
This roadmap sets forth a comprehensive vision to end forced labor in the cotton industry, and ensure that reforms are fundamental and sustainable. To achieve this overarching goal, it lays out three core objectives as set forth in the Cotton Campaign’s Definition of Success, presented to the Uzbek Government in February 2019: end systemic forced labor; enact structural reforms; and empower civil society.
The three core objectives are complementary and mutually reinforcing. Systemic forced labor cannot be eliminated without the enactment of structural reforms; nor can reforms be achieved without the empowerment of civil society to ensure transparency and accountability across every aspect of the reform process.
“The Cotton Campaign commends the historic commitment to reform made by President Mirziyoyev in September 2017 and acknowledges the subsequent significant progress in the recent harvests towards ending mass, state-sponsored adult forced labor,” stated Judy Gearhart, executive director of the International Labor Rights Forum. “There are, however, structural causes still in place, which contributed to the systemic forced labor documented by the Uzbek-German Forum during the 2018 harvest.”
In the past year, the Cotton Campaign has met with high-level officials from the Uzbek Government to discuss implementing activities to follow up on the Uzbek President’s commitment to end forced labor in Uzbekistan. The Campaign hosted a delegation of Uzbek Government officials in Washington, D.C. in February 2019 to discuss the reform process. While some of the reforms outlined in the Roadmap require time to implement fully, the Cotton Campaign expects that further substantial, tangible, and measurable progress can and should be made towards each of the three core objectives in the 2019 harvest and beyond on a continuing and accelerating basis. “Together with supporting apparel brands and industry associations, we will use this roadmap as the basis for our further engagement with the Government of Uzbekistan to help drive systemic reforms and guide future consideration of the Uzbek Cotton Pledge,” said Patricia Jurewicz, founder and vice president of the Responsible Sourcing Network.
CONTACT: Cotton Campaign Coordinator - c/o International Labor Rights Forum, 1634 I Street NW, Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20006. +1 202-347-4100, cottoncampaigncoordinator [at] gmail.com