Summary of BCI Xinjiang Roadmap

October 2019

BCI is aware of reports from civil society organisations and media that include accusations of involuntary labour from ethnoreligious minorities (including Uighurs) during or following internment in “re-education camps” in the Xinjiang province of Western China. To date, there is no direct evidence that demonstrates that forced labour is being used on BCI licensed farms in Xinjiang.

Since respective reports were brought to BCI’s attention and after careful consideration, the BCI Council has determined that a continued presence and engagement in the region promoting the Better Cotton Standard System, and its principles of social, environmental and economic sustainability, would continue to benefit local farmers. Thus, BCI’s activities in the region should be pursued. The Council has requested that the BCI Secretariat puts in place a concrete action plan to identify, and if necessary, mitigate and manage risks related to the credible implementation of the Better Cotton Standard System while also safeguarding the BCI China team’s ability to operate successfully according to BCI’s mission.

To that end, the BCI Secretariat has, in consultation with the BCI Council, developed a roadmap that includes two key phases. The first phase will deliver a third-party analysis of the situation by January 2020. The analysis will be complemented with a list of recommendations for Better Cotton Standard System improvements.

The second phase is designed to use the initial report findings and revise Better Cotton Standard System policies and procedures with the aim of preventing and detecting forced labour. The scope of the revision will be based on the findings of phase one and will likely include:

  • Policies and procedures for licensing BCI Farmers as well as endorsement and management of on-the-ground partners (Implementing Partners);
  • Adaptation of the Better Cotton Decent Work Principle and Criteria; and
  • An enhanced approach to confirming that the membership code of practice is adhered to.

The second phase of the roadmap will begin in January 2020 and will be completed by the end of that year. Amendments to the Better Cotton Principles and Criteria may take longer to implement, and if that is the case, the timeline will be updated and communicated to members.

Over the course of the next fifteen months, as activities of the roadmap are executed, the BCI Secretariat will regularly share progress reports with its Council and members and update the BCI website as appropriate.