A delegation of the Cotton Campaign visited Uzbekistan from January 28 to February 5, 2020, to participate in discussions with the government of Uzbekistan, human and labor rights activists, representatives of the International Labour Organization, World Bank and International Finance Corporation, embassies, and other stakeholders. The discussions were constructive, useful, and timely in refining our understanding of the treatment of cotton pickers during the 2019 harvest, and of the government’s actions towards its committed reforms. These discussions are contributing toward our assessment of progress towards the three core objectives set forth in the Cotton Campaign’s Roadmap of Reforms: Ending Systemic Forced Labor, Enacting Structural Reforms, and Empowering Civil Society.
We are evaluating various factors as we consider the status of the Uzbek Cotton Pledge and in preparation for our deliberations at the Cotton Campaign's annual meeting in Washington, DC the week of March 23rd. The combination of the observations highlighted in the Uzbek-German Forum’s Preliminary Findings and the numbers of estimated forced laborers acknowledged in the ILO’s recent Third Party Monitoring Report point to continuing challenges amidst the progress that is apparent but must be continually addressed if reform is to succeed.
Our decision will be made in order to advance the complementary objectives of the Roadmap—and in turn encourage responsible sourcing and investment that supports labor and human rights in a transitioning Uzbekistan.