Investor Action on the Human Rights Crisis in the Uyghur Region
LATEST: Calling Institutional Investors who are interested to learn more and join our Automotive sector engagement.
We will be discussing a collective engagement with automotive manufacturers on the risk of Uyghur forced labor in their supply chains. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Anita Dorett. You can also find out more about the risks in the automotive supply chain by viewing the recording of our webinar held on February 14th 2023 to hear from a variety of experts including; including; Dr. Laura Murphy from the University of Sheffield Hallam to learn about the presence of Uyghur Forced Labor in the automotive sector, the transition to electric vehicles and the importance of a just transition to renewable energy.
Since 2017, the Chinese government has placed an estimated 1.8 million predominantly Turkic and Muslim-majority peoples, including Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and Hui, in detention camps, prisons, and factories across the Xinjiang Autonomous Uyghur Region in China (Uyghur Region). This detention underpins systems of repression, in which business enterprises are involved, including wide-spread forced labor of people in and from the Uyghur Region who have been made to work in business enterprises across China; and mass surveillance of people in and from the Uyghur Region, through the use of technology developed and sold to authorities and businesses in China by domestic and international companies.
How Are Businesses Complicit?
The Uyghur Region is deeply connected to supply chains across industries, including textiles, agricultural production, electronics, and mining. Institutional investors of all sizes can potentially be connected to egregious human rights abuses through their investments in companies with operations, investments, partnerships, and other business relationships in or connected to the Uyghur Region.
Under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, all companies are expected to conduct effective human rights due diligence to ensure that they are not causing, contributing or linked to human rights abuses, through their direct or indirect actions. Where human rights harms cannot be mitigated, prevented or ceased, steps need to be taken to end business relationships responsibly.
- Complete a mapping of company's value chain (upstream suppliers and downstream distributors, customers and users), in and outside of China, to identify direct and indirect business relationships that are connected to the Uyghur Region including those that use the company’s products and/or services;
- Demonstrating steps to disengage from business relationships with suppliers and customers connected with human rights harms in and from the Uyghur Region;
- Publicly disclosing efforts and progress on the above, including on how company is working with affected rights holders in determining remedy; and
- Apply a single global standard consistent with the requirements of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act across your entire supply chain for all retail markets including those outside of the United States.
You can find details on latest Investor Expectations on Uyghur Forced Labor (2023) here.
- Corporate Engagement: The Investor Alliance is coordinating a focused engagement by investors with their portfolio companies who may have value chains that are connected to the human rights crisis in and from the Uyghur Region
- 52 institutional investors
- over US$5 trillion in assets under management
- 70 companies actively engaged
- 9 sectors, including apparel, ICT, transportation, food & agriculture, auto, and energy
- Solar energy sector engagement (Oct 2021)
- Latest : Automotive sector engagement (April 2023)
- Collaboration with Civil Society:
- The Coalition to End Uyghur Forced Labour, consisting of civil society organizations, Uyghur human rights groups and trade unions, united to end state-sponsored forced labor and other egregious human rights abuses against people from the Uyghur Region. The Coalition had in July 2020, issued a Call to Action to apparel companies that requires apparel signatory companies to disengage from business relationships that are connected to forced labor and other abuses in the Uyghur Region, as it relates to cotton and cotton-products.
- Following the passing of the U.S. Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA), the Coalition to End Uyghur Forced Labour has updated it Call to Action, requiring companies across all sectors, to apply a single global standard, consistent with the requirements of the UFLPA, across their entire supply chain for all retail markets.
- The Investor Alliance is a member of the Coalition to End Uyghur Forced Labour, and also participates as part of its Steering Committee.
- Outreach to International Organizations:
- See UN Report : OHCHR Assessment of human rights concerns in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, People’s Republic of China dated Aug 31, 2022 - which found that China’s treatment of Turkic Muslims in the remote region of Xinjiang “may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity.”
- On International Human Rights Day in 2020, the Investor Alliance sent a letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in support of a UN-led independent investigation to report, monitor and document the situation in the Uyghur Region, in line with similar calls by civil society and human rights experts. Reports on findings from such investigations will inform investors’ and companies’ human rights due diligence processes. On August 31, 2022, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a UN Report which found that China’s treatment of Turkic Muslims in the remote region of Xinjiang “may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity.”
- The Investor Alliance endorsed the Coalition to End Uyghur Forced Labor’s statement calling on the International Olympic Committee to announce a substantial human rights due diligence plan ahead of Beijing 2022 Olympics
- Outreach to Policy Makers and Governments:
- The U.S. Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) was passed on Dec 23, 2021 and came into effect on June 21, 2022. The UFLPA establishes a rebuttable presumption that any goods, wares, articles, and merchandise mined, produced, or manufactured wholly, or in part, in the Uyghur Region is implicated with forced labor and so is prohibited under the Tariff Act of 1930 from entry into the U.S.. You can find more information on the implementation of the UFLPA here.
- The Investor Alliance has supported several policy efforts, including proposed U.S. legislation and related government agency action in the U.S. (1307 petition), and submissions to the U.K. Parliamentary Committee to ban the import of products made with Uyghur forced labor.
How To Participate
If you are interested in joining this engagement, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Human Rights Risks in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region - Practical Guidance for Investors: informs investors of the salient risks to people associated with the business activities of their portfolio companies in or connected with the Uyghur Region. It provides practical guidance to investors on how to engage with its portfolio companies, as well as other stakeholders, to identify, prevent and mitigate those risks, as they may arise at different stages of the business process or the product lifecycle.
- Xinjiang Supply Chain Business Advisory: published by the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of the Treasury, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The advisory outlines the risks of supply chain links to entities that engage in human rights abuses, including forced labor in the Uyghur Region.
- Un-Just Transition: How fossil fuels and forced labor taint the solar energy sector in Xinjiang, China blog post, also published in Responsible Investor, speaks to the exponential growth in clean energy investments and calls out the need to ensure that there is a just transition to renewable energy that doesn’t come at the expense of people and the planet. Case in point: Solar production in the Uyghur Region.
- In Broad Daylight: Uyghur Forced Labour & Global Solar Supply Chains: published by Sheffield Hallam University. This report traces major solar supply chains from raw materials to panel production, indicating significant forced labor exposure that has tainted the entire sector. A total of 90 Chinese and international companies are affected by Uyghur forced labor through their supply chains.
- Laundering Cotton: How Xinjiang Cotton is Obscured in International Supply Chains is an investigation into how forced-labor-produced cotton and cotton-based goods from the Uyghur Region wend their way into international supply chains based on international trade and customs data. of five textile companies. This investigative report was published by Sheffield Hallam University.
Driving Force: Automotive Supply Chains and Forced Labor in the Uyghur Region is the latest report published by Sheffield Hallam University based on investigations undertaken by Laura T. Murphy, Kendyl Salcito, Yalkun Uluyol and Mia Rabkin. This investigation covers an analysis of publicly available documents that revealed massive and expanding links between western car brands and Uyghur abuses, in everything from the hood decals and car frames to engine casings, interiors and electronics.
- Is Your Car Driving Uyghur Forced Labor, February 2023
- Unjust Transition: Uyghur Forced Labor in the Global Solar Supply Chains, September 2021
- Practical Guidance for Investors: Human Rights Crisis in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, October 2020
Investor Under Pressure on Uyghur Forced Labor, Responsible Investor, Jan 4, 2023
An Unjust Transition: the link between renewables and human rights abuses, Responsible Investor, June 11, 2021
Investors press companies on human rights in Xinjiang, Reuters Exclusive, May 30, 2021
Why China’s exploitation of Uyghurs implicates Western brands, Al Jazeera interview from Counting the Cost, May 22, 2021
Taking on China: How are responsible investors engaging with the powerhouse, Responsible Investor, May 17, 2021
Investors press companies with Xinjiang ties to clean up supply chains, S&P Global, April 12, 2021