Tesco, World’s Second-Largest Retailer, Signs RSN’s Cotton Pledge as Annual Uzbek Cotton Fair Begins
Tesco has joined the fight against forced labor in Uzbek cotton by signing RSN’s Cotton Pledge. This support comes as the country prepares for the annual International Uzbek Cotton and Textile Fair, scheduled for October 14th and 15th in Tashkent. Retailers and apparel brands are taking action to prevent Uzbek cotton from entering their supply chains. Markets for Uzbek cotton sourced with forced labor continue to diminish as consumers become more aware of the egregious human rights violations that occur during the Uzbek cotton harvest, with over four million Uzbek citizens forced to pick cotton under threat of penalty.
Due to the pressure on the Uzbek government by the international community, there have been some success in reducing human rights violations. Finally, after five years of coordinated advocacy, children ages 7-15 are almost completely absent from the fields, and the International Labour Organization (ILO) was allowed to monitor the cotton harvest for the “worst forms of child labor” last year. Much of the international pressure has come from retail companies who have signed RSN’s Cotton Pledge, committing to not use Uzbek cotton harvested with forced labor in their products. In addition to Tesco, recent signatories include Lacoste and Raven+Lily.
Retailers and brands have the power to decide where to source their products. We urge them to sign the Cotton Pledge if they haven’t yet. With a growing majority of global retailers and brands pledging not to use Uzbek cotton, the Government of Uzbekistan will be pressed to dismantle its orchestrated system of forced labor, and students, teachers, and civilians will be able to continue their normal lives.