Sheffield Hallam University professor reveals Uyghur forced labour connections in dozens of global retail brands
More than 100 well-known international brands could be using cotton produced by Uyghur forced labour, according to new research conducted by Sheffield Hallam University.
The research was led by Laura Murphy, professor of human rights at Sheffield Hallam University’s Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice.
The report, Laundering Cotton: How Xinjiang Cotton is Obscured in International Supply Chains, suggests that cotton from the Uyghur Region - the Xinjiang Province in China - may bypass supply standards.
Professor Murphy said: “Our report details, link-by-link, how cotton moves from the Uyghur Region through the global clothing supply chain to consumers’ closets.
“Our research makes it clear that only through a firm commitment to exclude Uyghur Region cotton from their supply chains can brands provide any meaningful assurance to consumers and regulators. It leaves many leading brands with nowhere to hide.
“Not all the brands named in this report are at the same place in their efforts to keep their supply chains free of Xinjiang cotton.
“Some have publicly committed to taking the necessary steps to get Xinjiang cotton out of their supply chains and have committed to show evidence to independent groups that they are doing so. However, many brands have made no commitments.
“This research will help policymakers, investors, and consumers make smarter choices.”
A total of 53 contract garment suppliers in various countries were found to reportedly purchase fabric and yarn from Chinese manufacturers that, according to the authors, use Uyghur Region cotton.
The report concludes with recommendations that governments and corporations should put in place mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence legislation to ensure forced labour made goods do not reach consumers.