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Measuring Forced Labour in an Authoritarian Context. An Evaluation of ILO Third Party Monitoring in Uzbekistan

Autor_in: Prof. Kristian Lasslett, Vanessa Gstrein

Herausgeber_in: The Corruption and Human Rights Initiative (CHRI)


The Government of Uzbekistan operates a system of forced labour which has been estimated to coerce approximately one million people annually into participating in the cotton harvest. Following courageous reporting, activism, and whistleblowing, the Uzbek government has committed at the highest levels to eradicating forced and child labour from the cotton sector. One of the two crucial annual reports that both measures incidences of forced and child labour in the cotton sector, and attempts to diagnose strengths and weaknesses in Uzbekistan’s reform effort is produced by the International Labour Organization (ILO) through its third-party monitoring unit stationed in Tashkent. Established through a Multi-Donor Trust Fund by the World Bank, with support from the European Union, the United States and Switzerland, the unit has produced three annual monitoring reports since 2015. Following serious criticism of the third-party monitoring methodology, ethicality and accuracy by civil society, the first author of this evaluation was invited by the ILO’s Chief Technical Adviser to review the 2017 cotton harvest report. To conduct the review, benchmarks drawn from the international methodological literature and the ILO’s own monitoring manual were employed. Once applied serious breaches were identified. A series of questions prompted by the review’s initial findings was sent to the ILO’s third-party monitoring unit for clarification. No response has been received. 

Among the greatest concerns raised during the review was a lack of explicit reference in the 2017 harvest report to the vulnerability of participants who may be victims of state-organised labour, the special sensitivities this prompts for research, or the complexities associated with conducting accurate fieldwork in a deeply authoritarian country where surveillance, arbitrary detention, torture, and repression are lived realities for citizens. 

Erscheinungsjahr: 2018

Umfang: 27 Seiten

Sprache: Englisch

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