Call on World Bank to stop Uzbekistan loans

29 September 2014

A late May letter from the Cotton Campaign, a global coalition of trade unions, business associations, investors and NGOs, called on the World Bank president and its board to postpone two proposed loans to the agricultural sector in Uzbekistan, $261 million for the South Karakalpakstan water resource management improvement project and $150 million for the Horticulture development project, “given the real possibility that funding under the new projects could support the Uzbek government’s forced labour system of cotton production”. Despite the concerns, the loans were approved in mid June.

The letter follows a November 2013 complaint to the Bank’s accountability mechanism, the Inspection Panel, by three NGOs, regarding a previous investment in Uzbekistan’s agriculture sector, due to concerns over forced and child labour. However, the Panel postponed a decision on investigation until late 2014 due to “the important potential for further positive developments” (see Bulletin Feb 2014, Update 74).