Uzbekistan’s 2018 cotton harvest, which concluded in all regions of the country in the last week of November, showcased the enormous challenges in uprooting the country’s deeply entrenched forced labor system. Driven by a commitment to reform at the highest levels of the government, there is a significant transition underway which is reflected in some encouraging signs of progress. But despite serious efforts by the central government to curtail forced labor for some citizens, key root causes remained in place, resulting in officials at both the local and national level to force citizens into the fields again and extort companies and organizations to provide resources and labor to cover shortfalls and ensure that the state set quota was fulfilled.

In 2018, forced labor remained a systemic problem because its structural underpinnings remained in place. The government has not yet enacted essential deep reforms, in particular of the government procurement or quota system that is a main driver of forced labor. As in previous years, the government continued to assign cotton production quotas to regions and districts and impose responsibility to fulfill these on officials. While significant increases in payment for cotton picking did increase voluntary participation in the harvest, especially in the early stages when cotton is most abundant and pickers can earn the most, this was not sufficient to cover labor shortfalls in low population districts or later in the season when working conditions worsened and pickers could earn much less. As a result, officials turned to public sector institutions as well as banks, enterprises, and businesses to send their employees to the fields or pay for pickers, to cover costs for these pickers, and, in some regions, to deliver cotton quotas. Identifying forced labor as theresult of structural problems and policies under central control and not just the result ofpoor management practice by individual local officials, is important in order to identify appropriate reforms to address the underlying causes of the problem.

They said we wouldn’t have to pick and now they send us to the fields - Forced Labor in Uzbekistan’s Cotton Harvest 2018 DOWNLOAD















Legislating human rights due diligence: opportunities and potential pitfalls to the French duty of vigilance law

By Anna Triponel and John Sherman Introduction On the evening of 23 March 2017, just as the deadline for a decision was approaching, the French Constitutional Court declaredthat the French law on the duty of vigilance (or duty of care) owed by pare...Read More

ITUC Global Rights Index 2018: The World’s Worst Countries for Workers

The 2018 ITUC Global Rights Index depicts the world’s worst countries for workers by rating 142 countries on a scale from 1-5 based on the degree of respect for workers’ rights with 1 being the best rating and 5 the worst rating. Violations are r...Read More

TAGS: Global
The Behind the Brands: Food Companies Scorecard

The Behind the Brands Scorecard assesses the agricultural sourcing policies of the world's ten largest food and beverage companies. It exclusively focuses on publicly available informa- tion that relates to the policies of these companies on their so...Read More

Modern Slavery Report 2017-18

The Modern Slavery Report highlights Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)'s efforts during 2017-18 to disrupt, prosecute and improve their response to offending. Findings show a 27 per cent rise in the number of suspects charged with modern slavery and hu...Read More

TAGS: Europe