Giving in to sustained international pressure, authoritarian Uzbekistan is opening up its cotton fields to international monitors this fall.
The International Labor Organization has confirmed to EurasiaNet.org that it is sending a mission to monitor the Uzbek cotton harvest, which starts in mid-September. “The ILO will be involved in the monitoring of the cotton harvest in Uzbekistan with the aim of preventing the use of child labor,” spokesman Hans von Rohland confirmed by email on September 12. Monitoring will start “in the next few days.”
Uzbekistan has been the target in recent years of international criticism and a widespread commercial boycott over its reliance on child and forced labor to reap the cash crop. Earlier this year, the US State Department assailed Uzbekistan on the forced labor issue.
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Joanna Lillis is a freelance writer who specializes in Central Asia.