Investor Action on the Human Rights Crisis in the Uyghur Region
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; and
- Publicly disclosing efforts and progress on the above, including on how company is working with affected rights holders in determining remedy.
- 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
- 65 institutional investors
- US$6.58 trillion in assets under management
- 48 companies actively engaged
- 8 sectors, including apparel, ICT, transportation, food & agriculture, auto, and energy
- Collaboration with Civil Society:
- The Coalition to End Uyghur Forced Labor, consisting of civil society organizations, Uyghur human rights groups and trade unions, are united to end state-sponsored forced labor and other egregious human rights abuses against people from the Uyghur Region. The Coalition has 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.
- The Investor Alliance is a member of the Coalition to End Uyghur Forced Labor, and calls on investors to endorse the Call to Action to urge apparel companies to join as signatories to the Call to Action, to address these human rights harms in their supply chains.
- Outreach to International Organizations:
- On International Human Rights Day, 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.
- 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 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 complete this form.
- 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.
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