Coalition Calls on United Nations to Release Official Report on Uyghur Forced Labour
6 June 2022
Following the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet’s widely criticised visit to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China last month, the Coalition to End Forced Labour in the Uyghur Region calls on the United Nations to release, without delay, public reporting on human rights violations against Uyghurs and other Turkic and Muslim majority peoples.
The Coalition also calls for the High Commissioner to ensure the report incorporates extensive evidence on forced labour and strong recommendations for multilateral and private-sector actions to combat it.
In a report this year, the International Labour Organization (ILO) Committee of Experts expressed “deep concern” over the Chinese government policies targeting Uyghurs and other Turkic and Muslim majority peoples, making specific reference to forced labour camps. The UK Human Rights Ambassador’s remarks in the ILO Committee on the Application of Standards last week underscored the need for the Chinese government to “immediately cease its repressive and discriminatory policies,” including forced labour in the Uyghur Region. In order to ensure alignment throughout the bodies of the United Nations on this issue, the Coalition calls on the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights to publicly address and condemn Uyghur forced labour, including in the supply chains of multinational companies, in a formal report.
The Chinese government’s human rights crimes in the Uyghur Region are widely condemned; the US State Department, a UK-based independent Tribunal, and numerous parliaments all have declared that China is committing genocide against Uyghurs and other Muslim majority groups. Credible reports of the mass detention, abuse, and forced labour of the Uyghur people in China underscore the urgent need for the United Nations to use its power and position to publish formal findings, particularly given the implications for the global marketplace.
Nearly twenty percent of the world’s cotton is produced in the Uyghur Region, as well as forty-five percent of the world’s solar-grade polysilicon, which is necessary for solar panel production. Corporations around the world are complicit in Uyghur forced labour as these goods infiltrate supply chains and flood the marketplace. It is critical that the United Nations undertake and publicly release a thorough report on forced labour in the Uyghur Region to send a strong message to companies to remove all touchpoints in the Uyghur Region or else continue to enable these human rights violations.
The Coalition calls for the release of this report without further delay. Swift action by multilateral bodies, governments, and businesses is needed to end forced labour in the Uyghur Region, and it is the responsibility of the United Nations to protect human rights by provoking this action.
In a December 2021 open letter, the Coalition previously urged the High Commissioner to issue a report without delay, to catalyse urgent international action on the human rights crisis in the Uyghur Region.