Child labour - Forced labour

ILO welcomes lifting of Cotton Campaign boycott of Uzbekistan

Agricultural and economic reforms have led to the eradication of systemic child labour and forced labour in Uzbekistan’s cotton harvest.

Press release | 14 March 2022
Cotton pickers in Uzbekistan © Peretz Partensky
TASHKENT, Uzbekistan (ILO News) – The International Labour Organization (ILO) has welcomed the decision by the Cotton Campaign to lift the global boycott of Uzbekistan cotton products, and has congratulated the Uzbek government, workers and employers’ organizations on their achievement in reforming the industry.

The boycott was imposed in 2011 because of the use of child and forced labour during the Uzbek cotton harvest. 331 international brands and retailers joined the campaign. The boycott was lifted on 10 March 2022.

The 2021 ILO Third-Party Monitoring Report of the Cotton Harvest in Uzbekistan found that Uzbekistan had eradicated systemic forced and child labour during the 2021 cotton harvest.

The ILO has been working with Uzbekistan since 2013, to reform agricultural and economic practices in the cotton sector. The work included changing attitudes as well as behaviours and making child and forced labour unacceptable in both law and practice.

There has also been progress in establishing social dialogue and collective bargaining practices in the cotton sector. In 2021 civil society representatives were trained to take part in the cotton harvest.

The ILO’s international partners, Uzbek tripartite constituents, civil society representatives and other stakeholders collaborated with the ILO in the work to end systematic child and forced labour and promote decent work in Uzbekistan.

The Cotton Campaign is a coalition of human and labour rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs), independent trade unions, brand and retail associations, responsible investor organizations, supply chain transparency groups, and academics who work to end forced labour in cotton production.