The UK's The Guardian reports on an upcoming conference by the Ethical Trade Initiative and sponsored by Tesco, the major UK retailer which was the first to boycott Uzbek cotton: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/may/24/retail-ethicalbusiness
Tesco has been a pioneer in policing its supply chain to ensure that there is no Uzbek cotton in it.
The Guardian explains:
"Until recently that was not easy because most cotton garments are blended from a number of different countries and it was hard to work out where cotton was sourced. But new technology developed by Oxford-based firm Historic Futures now offers retailers the ability to track and trace all items that make up a garment. By uploading receipts on individual components within entire supply chains onto a secure network, retailers can accurately trace where their products come from."
Steve Trent of the Environmental Justice Foundation is quoted on Uzbekistan's signing of the ILO conventions 182 and 138:
"This is a major step forward. Virtually nothing persuaded the government to change course. But the actions of retailers and campaigners are definitely now having an impact. But the key question that remains is whether the Uzbeki government will implement the conventions. They need to allow independent monitoring and work with civil society, which are basic requirements of the conventions they have signed up to and ratified. They are not doing this so the jury is out."
The article concludes by contrasting the situation with corporations' action on Uzbekistan (relatively favorable) with that of Burma, where the London insurance market's involvement in Burma's shipping industry allows the junta to keep afloat. It glosses over the fact that Uzbekistan's cotton is still sold (to Russia, China, Bangladeshi spinning industries), and is still a big earner for the regime...for now!