April 10, 2008
Clarification by the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of the Population concerning “forced child labour in Uzbekistan”
Recently some biased non-governmental organizations such as Environmental Justice Foundation (UK), Association for Human Rights in Central Asia (France), International Working Group on Peace Protection (Germany) as well as some foreign mass-media, in particular, the Swedish TV, BBC have been disseminating false and fabricated allegations about “mass use of forced child labour in the agriculture of Uzbekistan”.

Exaggeration of this false information is a part of dishonest competition in the cotton manufacturing market. It pursues the aim to lower the rating and price for Uzbek cotton, which today is one of the most competitive in the world, and by that to slow down economic growth of Uzbekistan.

With an aim to counteract the untrue insinuations and fabrications concerning the use of child labour, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of the Population of the Republic of Uzbekistan clarifies:

I. Concerning the legal basis of inadmissibility of forced child labour in Uzbekistan.

1. The Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan prohibits any form of use of forced labour. It constitutes legal basis for protection of citizens from exploitation, discrimination and compulsions (Article 37).

2. The Republic of Uzbekistan is one of the few countries of the world that joined practically all international documents concerning prevention of forced labour and use of child labour, in particular:

Forced labour Convention (C29) (ratified in August, 1997);

Abolition of forced labour Convention (C105) (ratified in August, 1997);

Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention (C111) (ratified in August, 1997);

Minimum age Ñonvention (C138) (ratified in March, 2008);

Worst forms of child labour Convention (C182) (ratified in March, 2008). 3. According to the Law of Republic of Uzbekistan «On guarantees of rights of a child», adopted in 2007, a person younger than 18 years of age is considered to be a child. The right to employment is exercised from 16 years, and in some cases (with the consent of parents and during the time free from study) - from 14 years. At the same time the state guarantees the labour right for persons younger than 18 years by providing necessary conditions for overlapping the work with compulsory education (Art.20 of the Law).

These provisions are reflected also in the Labour Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan (Article 7) and are fully in accordance with the international legal acts on protection of children’s rights, in particular, “UN Convention on the Rights of the Child» (1989).

4. State institutions of labour inspections operate in Uzbekistan as envisaged in the ILO Labour Inspection Convention ¹81, including, the State Legal Inspection for Labour and the State Inspection for Labour Protection under the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection. The functions and duties of these inspections include prevention of illegal use of child labour.

Thus, the reliable legislative basis of protecting the rights of children in labour is created in Uzbekistan.

II. Concerning the use of child labour in agricultural work, including cotton collection.

1. As a result of fundamental reform of agriculture in Uzbekistan the large agricultural manufacturers were abolished by their transformation into small private family farms (in 2005-2007 practically entire cotton crop was produced by farms), a form of labour which is based on participation of farmer’s family members.

2. It is necessary to consider the participation of children under 18 in the work of farms which are family enterprises as a labour in the family enterprise outside the school hours, i.e. an activity to help family members. In particular according to the ILO Convention concerning the Age for Admission of Children to Employment in Agriculture ¹10 and also the Convention concerning the Age for Admission of Children to Non-Industrial Employment ¹60, the minimum age of employment in non-industrial enterprises (including agricultural) of the entrepreneur’s family members is not limited by the minimum age frameworks.

The practice of involving the children into economical activity of family enterprises, first of all, of agricultural orientation, exists almost in all countries. For example, in USA about 7% of all employed persons in farms are people between the age of 14 and 17.

3. The generally recognized family values and traditions of Uzbek society assume and predetermine participation of elder children in creating the family well-being. The society supports and welcomes in every possible way the labour education of children by involving them to render feasible help to elderly people. This feature of mentality of people of Uzbekistan is an important factor of social and economical development of the country and formation of civil society.

4. The serious participants of world cotton market demonstrate direct non-acceptance of unreasonable charges on mass use of child labour in the cotton industry of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

Mr. T.Townsend, the Executive Director of the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC), made a statement, in which he particularly said that «The majority of representatives of the cotton business, including, myself, ignore such accusations, because they at most are exaggerated or absurd». «I assume that the cotton industry of Uzbekistan can be proud of its contribution to enhancing the lives and well-being of the people». This statement has been conveyed on behalf of the ICAC to the world’s largest cotton associations and stock exchanges.

The similar official position is upheld by the International Cotton Association, the Bremen Cotton Stock Exchange, the Agency «Cotton Outlook» and other authoritative representatives of the cotton business.

Thus, at present in Uzbekistan there are no economic and social preconditions for the forced use of child labour in agricultural activities, including in cotton collection.


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