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Marks and Spencer signs Call to Action on human rights abuses on Uyghurs in China M&S I Uyghurs
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Marks and Spencer signs Call to Action on human rights abuses on Uyghurs in China

India Blooms News Service | @indiablooms | 21 Jan 2021, 12:41 am

Causing major embarrassment to China, multinational retailer M&S has become one of the first companies to formally sign the Call to Action on human rights abuses: Brand Commitment to Exit the Uyghur Region.

This is in line with the company’s long-term focus on ensuring its supply chains are sustainable and ethical, where workers are treated fairly, and their human rights are respected.

As the Call to Action notes, more than 80 percent of China’s cotton is grown in the Uyghur Region, approaching almost 20 percent of global production. In response to mounting evidence of forced labour, the Coalition, (supported by groups including the Ethical Trading Initiative) has set out a series of asks of businesses in order to ensure that their full supply chains—including secondary and tertiary suppliers—are not linked to the human rights abuses in the region, the company said in a statement.

"100% of the cotton for M&S Clothing is sustainably sourced (the majority Better Cotton Initiative*) and M&S is already one of the few retailers that does not work with any supplier in or source from Xinjiang, in addition to being committed to tackling indirect supply risks. However, M&S has signed up to the important Call to Action to help play its part in driving meaningful change at scale," the company said.

Richard Price, M&S Clothing & Home MD said, “At M&S, sourcing ethically and sustainably is core to how we do business and the promise we make to our customers, that’s why we do not source cotton from Xinjiang."

"100% of the cotton for our clothing is more sustainably sourced—from the organic cotton in our baby clothes to our Good Move gym leggings using cotton sourced through the Better Cotton Initiative. When it comes to sustainable and ethical clothing, we can only achieve real change at scale by working with others, which is why we are proud to be formally supporting the coalition and providing additional assurance to our customers they can purchase from M&S with confidence."

Jasmine O’Connor OBE, CEO at Anti-Slavery International said, "We welcome the leadership shown by Marks & Spencer today to commit publicly to the Call to Action, providing assurance to its consumers that M&S products will not be linked to the abuses of Uyghurs."

Jasmine said, "The Call to Action sets out a clear path of action for brands to follow in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and we call upon other major brands to  follow suit with M&S and commit to the Call to Action urgently.”