No World Bank Financing for Forced Labor!

In Uzbekistan, the government operates one of the world’s largest state-run systems of forced labor. An estimated one million citizens each year are coerced under threat of penalty to harvest cotton for a state-run enterprise that benefits only the government elite. Civil society monitors who report on the conditions of the harvest are routinely detained, harassed and physically assaulted, while journalists who attempt to document the truth are detained and deported.

International actors, including the World Bank and its private sector lending arm the International Finance Corporation, are putting funds into this trade in dirty cotton. The World Bank Group is an international institution that provides loans for developing countries. Right now it is providing almost $500 million to Uzbek agriculture projects, including for cotton. The World Bank signed a contract agreeing to suspend certain loans if evidence of forced labor was uncovered, yet despite two years of documented proof showing forced labor continues on World Bank project sites, particularly in the poor and vulnerable region of Karakalpakstan, the World Bank has yet to suspend its loans.