Date: Wednesday, April 5, 2023
Time: 3:30 PM – 8:00 PM EDT
Place: National Endowment for Democracy, 1201 Pennsylvania Ave. NW Suite 1100 Washington, D.C., DC 20004. Click here to register.
Co-Hosted By: National Endowment for Democracy and Global Labor Justice-International Labor Rights Forum
In March 2022, the Cotton Campaign, a global coalition against forced labor, announced that it was ending its call for a global boycott of Uzbek cotton. The Coalition made this decision following the 2021 harvest: Uzbek Forum for Human Rights, a frontline partner of the Cotton Campaign that has monitored the annual cotton harvest since 2010, found no state-imposed forced labor for the first time in years. This landmark achievement marked the elimination of state-imposed forced labor in Uzbekistan’s cotton harvest, which had affected millions of children and adults. Despite these gains, civic space and fundamental labor rights in Uzbekistan remain arbitrarily restricted and farmers face exploitation, jeopardizing reforms in the cotton sector.
Turkmenistan remains one of the most closed and repressive countries in the world. Every year during the harvest, the government continues to force tens of thousands of public sector workers to pick cotton in hazardous and unsanitary conditions and extorts money from public employees to pay harvest expenses. To this day, the government continues to deny the forced labor problem and has taken harsh actions against those who report on abuses.
Please join the National Endowment for Democracy and Global Labor Justice-International Labor Rights Forum for an in-person, two-panel discussion and reception to reflect on one year since the end of state-imposed forced labor in Uzbek cotton—including the implications for global cotton supply chains, next steps in Uzbekistan, and making labor rights gains in Turkmenistan and the Uyghur region. The panels will place the fight for workers’ rights in Central Asia in the broader context of global supply chains and supply chain governance. This has been given new prominence and urgency by systematic forced labor as part of genocide and crimes against humanity perpetrated by the government of China against the Uyghur and other Turkic and/or Muslim-majority peoples.
- Shawna Bader-Blau- Executive Director, Solidarity Center
- Kelly M. Fay Rodríguez- Special Representative for International Labor Affairs, U.S. Department of State
- Bennett Freeman- Cotton Campaign co-founder and former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
- Patricia Jurewicz- Cotton Campaign co-founder and founder and CEO, Responsible Sourcing Network
- Ruslan Myatiev- Founder and Editor, Turkmen.News
- Umida Niyazova- Director, Uzbek Forum for Human Rights
Additional Panelists to be Announced
3:30 PM – 5:30 PM Panel Discussions
5:30 PM – 8:00 PM Reception