NRF condemns forced labor in supply chains after reports on China's Xinjiang region
Following reports on Thursday that the supply chains of a large number of major fashion brands could be tainted by cotton picked by Uighurs subjected to conditions of forced labor in China’s Xinjiang region, America’s National Retail Federation has teamed up with other industry bodies to release a statement reiterating its “zero tolerance” approach to forced labor and calling on the national government to take action.
“Following today’s launch of the NGO Call to Action, the recent publication of several new reports, the signing into law of the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, and the release of a business advisory by the U.S. State, Treasury, Homeland Security, and Commerce Departments regarding supply chain risk in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), we want to reiterate our continued focus on identifying and eradicating forced labor,”said NRF in its statement.
Other signatories to the statement include the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), the Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America (FDRA), the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and the United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA).
Describing addressing forced labor in supply chains as a “key priority,” the organizations emphasized that an effective solution will require state-to-state collaboration and partnerships between governments, NGOs, labor advocacy groups and industry.
In light of this assertion, NRF urged national leaders to establish a multi-stakeholder working group tasked with finding solutions that increase supply chain transparency and protect workers’ rights around the world.
According to NRF, since the first reports came out highlighting alleged instances of forced labor in Xinjiang, the organization has spent the last eight months working together with a number of other associations as part of a multi-industry program seeking to address due diligence challenges and opportunities related to these issues.
The UN estimates that there are at least 1 million Uighurs and other Muslims being held in detention centers in Xinjiang. These claims have been strenuously denied by China, which maintains that the camps offer vocational training and aim to combat extremism.
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