Statement: End Uyghur Forced Labour Coalition Welcomes Public Commitments by Marks & Spencer on Uyghur Forced Labour
January 6 2021
Coalition demands urgent commitments from other companies to cut links with the Uyghur Region
London, UK – Today the major British multinational retailer, Marks & Spencer, publicly announced its formal commitment to cut all ties with suppliers implicated in Uyghur forced labour and to ban any sourcing from the Uyghur Region, from cotton to finished garments. The company has signed the Coalition to End Uyghur Forced Labour’s Call to Action, endorsed by 300+ human rights and civil society organisations.
“We welcome the leadership shown by Marks & Spencer today to commit publicly to the Call to Action, providing assurance to its consumers that M&S products will not be linked to the abuses of Uyghurs. The Call to Action sets out a clear path of action for brands to follow in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and we call upon other major brands to follow suit with M&S and commit to the Call to Action urgently,” said Jasmine O’Connor OBE, CEO of Anti-Slavery International.
While a number of brands and retailers, including major global fashion brands, have privately committed to the Coalition’s Call to Action pending public announcement, Marks & Spencer is the first top-tier global retailer to make its commitment public.
“The Uyghur community demands real action from brands to end their complicity in Uyghur forced labour, not empty declarations. Brands must urgently commit to the steps outlined in the Coalition’s Call to Action to ensure that they are not profiting from Uyghur forced labour,” said Muetter Iliqud, Head of Communications of the Norwegian Uyghur Committee.
One in 5 cotton products sold globally are likely tainted with Uyghur forced labour. Such products will continue to be sold to consumers around the world until all major brands and retailers commit to end sourcing from the Region.
The only way by which companies can provide credible assurance that they are taking all steps to end links with the forced labour of Uyghurs is by committing to the Coalition’s Call to Action. This Call to Action lays out all the steps required to fully delink textile supply chains from the abuses being committed against Uyghurs and other Turkic and Muslim-majority peoples. By signing the Call to Action, brands commit to provide information that will allow the Coalition to verify compliance with the Call to Action commitments.