RSN Updates

Read our updates to learn more about RSN’s work.


USG and ILO Reprimand Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan for Slave-Cotton

As the country with the smallest population in Central Asia, Turkmenistan has rarely been in the spotlight on the global stage. This changed today, when the U.S. State Department downgraded Turkmenistan for using forced labor in its cotton sector in the annual Trafficking in Persons report. (RSN has written extensively about forced labor in the cotton sector of Uzbekistan, and over the last two years has worked in an increasing capacity with the Cotton Campaign to end forced labor in Turkmenistan, as well. Our partner Alternative Turkmenistan News (ATN) has documented the Turkmen government’s use of systematic forced labor throughout its cotton sector since the 2013 harvest.

ATN’s reporting, conducted with a network of informants throughout Turkmenistan, details the state-orchestrated, forced mobilization of farmers and public and private sector workers. The mobilization is a remnant of the former Soviet Republic’s centralized command economy. Since the collapse of the USSR, the authoritarian Turkmen government has exacerbated the issue, orchestrating a system in which citizens are exploited to meet yearly cotton quotas. In ATN’s report, public-sector workers detailed being threatened by their superiors with dismissal, docked pay, or forced to pay a fee if they refused to participate in the harvest. This state system of forced labor violates the fundamental human and labor rights of tens of thousands of Turkmen citizens each year.

After placing Turkmenistan on the Tier 2 Watch List for the fourth consecutive year in 2015, the State Department was forced to either upgrade or downgrade the country’s ranking in 2016. To our satisfaction, the State Department downgraded Turkmenistan from the Tier 2 Watch List to Tier 3. This downgrade allows the country to be sanctioned under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act for Tier 3 countries, which provides more incentive for the Turkmen government to take definitive action to end its use of forced labor in the cotton sector.

Independently determined but aligned with the State Department’s position, earlier this month the ILO’s Committee on the Application of Standards urged the government of Turkmenistan to take effective measures in law and in practice to ensure that no one, including farmers and public and private sector workers, is forced to work for the state sponsored cotton harvest.” The committee also stated that the Turkmen government should prosecute officials who participate in the forced mobilization of workers; seek the ILO’s assistance in applying international labor standards; and allow workers, employers, and civil society organizations to monitor the harvests without fear of repercussion.

We were also pleased to see that the State Department downgraded Turkmenistan’s neighbor Uzbekistan from the Tier 2 Watch List to Tier 3 as well. In Tier 3, similar to Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan can now be subject to sanctions, which places more international pressure on the government to combat forced labor in its cotton sector. The decision is also in line with the ILO’s recommendations to the Uzbek government, to take measures that ensure the complete elimination of the use of forced labor and achieve concrete results.

The State Department’s downgrade, in combination with the ILO’s recommendations, sends a strong message to global apparel and home goods brands that they should have rigorous processes to identify and eliminate Turkmen and Uzbek cotton from their value chains. Only by aligning trade practices with company commitments to fundamental labor conventions will we be able to end forced labor in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan’s cotton sectors. If the international community builds on the pressure of the downgrades to Tier 3, the citizens of these Central Asian countries may have reason to hope for light at the end of the tunnel.


Know the Chain’s First ICT Benchmark!

Know the Chain just released its first Information and Technology Communications (ICT) Benchmark on 20 companies’ efforts to prevent forced labor in their supply chains. This report is groundbreaking because it is the first public ranking of companies in regards to their anti-slavery efforts. This type of comparison is something investors, consumers and human rights activists have been waiting for.

The ICT Benchmark Findings Report shows that the majority of ICT companies reviewed are demonstrating a commitment to identifying forced labor in their own supply chains. However, there is still much more work to be done. The study found that the biggest area for improvement is giving workers at every level of the supply chain an avenue to voice their concerns. “Worker’s Voice” only had an average score of 16 out of 100 for the 20 companies reviewed. HP received the highest score across the seven categories with 72.

This ICT benchmark report is a great complement to RSN’s annual Mining the Disclosures report. It is no surprise that the areas of “Traceability and Risk Assessment” and “Monitoring” scored quite high due to the work ICT companies need to do regarding sourcing conflict minerals.

If you are interested in learning more about corporate due diligence in addressing conflict minerals’ risks, then be sure to keep an eye out for RSN’s Mining the Disclosure 2016 report, which will be released in early October.  


Change: It’s in Your Hands

The Body Shop, a UK based cosmetic company rooted in the belief that business can be a force for good, is entering the final month of its “Enrich not Exploit” campaign. Until the end of June, The Body Shop is selling a Limited Edition Hemp Hand Protector, where a portion of the proceeds goes toward a cause of your choice, allowing you to enrich the world with your pocketbook.  One of the organizations The Body Shop is donating money to through this campaign is Responsible Sourcing Network! When you purchase the Hemp Hand Protector, you will be instructed to vote for a type of cause that is closest to your heart.  The Body Shop gives you three options: Our Planet, Our Oceans, and Our People and Animals. Responsible Sourcing Network falls under the cause Our Planet. For RSN to receive the largest contribution from this campaign, please select the option Our Planet. This campaign allows you to protect not only your hands, but also our environment and those who inhabit it.

The money RSN raises through The Body Shop’s campaign will go towards transforming the cotton industry in Uzbekistan. Due to the mismanagement of water and exploitation of its citizens, the Aral Sea is now only about 10% of its original mass and nurses, teachers, and university students are forced to weed fields and harvest cotton. The depletion of the Aral Sea and Uzbekistan’s unethical labor practices are deeply intertwined. RSN is dedicated to understanding the complexities of the supply chains that are supporting these unfair and unsafe practices. Working side by side with retailers and companies, RSN is committed to ending forced labor and protecting the environmental health of the Aral Sea. By purchasing The Body Shop’s Hemp Hand Protector, you are choosing to support RSN’s efforts to bring transparency and tangible change to Uzbekistan.

In order to purchase The Body Shop’s Limited Edition Hemp Hand Protector and support RSN, follow these steps:

  1. Visit:
  2. Scroll down and Click “Add to Cart”
  3. Proceed to Checkout
  4. Either create an account with The Body Shop or continue as a guest 
  5. Complete shipping information and save address
  6. Proceed to payment
  7. After completing payment information, select “Our Planet” so a larger amount of proceeds will benefit RSN
  8. Ask your friends and family to do the same and promote on social media

Thank you for your purchase, your vote, your support of RSN, and for helping to enrich the planet and its people!



NEW Conflict Mineral Impact Infographic Sheds Light on the Importance of Achieving a Conflict-Free Supply Chain

Just why are Conflict Minerals disclosures important to investors, business leaders, consumers, workers and local mining communities? Our new infographic conveys the importance of private sector actions when working to achieve a conflict-free supply chain. Conflict-free business practices can improve the lives of many citizens living in mining communities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and neighboring countries.

Download the infographic to see the basic steps – and resulting impact – companies can take to become conflict-free.

Here are some of the important takeaways from the Conflict-Free Infographic:

  • In order for a company to commit to conflict-free business, the cost must be understood. The social and financial losses in the DRC are motivating factors for a business to champion human rights. Did you know that just this past January, 35,000 people fled their homes in DRC in 2016?
  • When a company chooses to not be conflict-free, it hurts suppliers, buyers, consumers, and investors.
  • Many companies are already taking concrete steps to push human rights in their supply chains, such as contributing to the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Conflict Minerals.
  • Companies should communicate all the way up the supply chain with stakeholders such as in-region nonprofits, smelters, industry peers, and more.
  • Companies can invest in research, infrastructure, and regional governance to continue pushing for change.
  • 89% of DRC mines were declared conflict-free as of May 2016! While this is a sign of much progress, more must be done.
  • Promotes good business for everyone involved. Conflict-free business is GOOD business because it creates positive impact, lowers risks, and sets an example for responsible sourcing in an increasingly interconnected world.

Do you care about reducing and eliminating conflict in the DRC region? If so, share this infographic; one share can be one step toward a conflict-free world.


2016 Copenhagen Fashion Summit: Closing the Loop in the Fashion Industry

Earlier this month, Founder and Director of Responsible Sourcing Network (RSN), Patricia Jurewicz, attended the fourth biannual Copenhagen Fashion Summit, a culmination of a week’s worth of panels, meetings, and discussions on sustainable fashion. The Summit, held on May 12th in the beautiful Copenhagen Concert Hall, was organized by the Danish Fashion Institute on behalf of the Nordic Fashion Association under the patronage of HRH Crown Princess Mary of Denmark. The event, themed “Responsible Innovation”, brought over 1200 people from 52 countries, ranging from industry experts to government officials.

Two long-time leaders in the industry spoke at the Summit, Rick Ridgeway of Patagonia and Hannah Jones of Nike. Rick described the four R’s that inspired Patagonia’s Worn Wear program: Repair, Recycle, Resell, and Reduce – the last of which he dubbed an “inconvenient truth” for the fashion industry. Hannah made an impassioned call for a complete overhaul of the industry’s current sustainability practices, asserting that “incrementalism and efficiency measures will not get us there; less bad is not good enough”. She emphasized the importance of sustainable innovation at the molecular level of the industry, explaining that “for sustainability to be transformative, it must be built in to what we create and how we design from the very beginning”.

Perhaps the most memorable presentation of the day came from the Youth Fashion Summit, a group of 116 fashion and business students from 40 different countries. In the 3 days prior to the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, these students worked to determine how to implement the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals into the fashion industry. The students drafted a Manifesto of 7 Demands for The Fashion Industry. The demands echoed the speakers’ calls for closed-loop systems within all facets of the industry and elimination of unnecessary harm in product creation. In essence, their message was that the youth will have to clean up the current industry’s mess, and so the current industry heads better start dealing with the mess they created now. The Manifesto underlined the clear urgency and necessity of putting into place all of the possible innovations discussed at the Summit.

The 2016 Copenhagen Fashion Summit, while full of brilliant minds and innovative ideas, is only one of many steps needed to create a wholly sustainable fashion industry. Getting high profile people of the industry in one room to discuss these issues is impressive, but now we must focus on making these innovations the rule rather than the exception. RSN is doing its part in this effort by looking to disrupt the opaque cotton value chain by developing a new initiative called YESS: Yarn Ethically and Sustainably Sourced. Please join us in not only demanding transparency and accountability, but by supporting a tool that will help eliminate cotton harvested with modern day slavery.

For more information on the 2016 Summit, check out these links:

Twitter: @CphFashSummit 

Instagram: copenhagenfashionsummit





The Youth Fashion Summit presents their Manifesto to industry leaders.