Uyghur Forced Labour in Green Technology

Image of rare earth mine in the Uyghur Region
Climate changeResponsible business

As the world continues to experience the devastating impacts of climate change, a full transition away from the fossil fuel economy is imperative. The solar and electric vehicle (EV) industries in particular, are critical to this transition. However, both industries have been heavily implicated in forced labour in the Uyghur Region, where the Chinese Government is systematically persecuting the native Uyghur and Turkic and Muslim-majority peoples. A central element of this persecution occurs through state-imposed forced labour. 

Coordinated global action is needed to shift solar supply chains away from the Uyghur Region and prevent the solar and EV industries from becoming any more reliant on the Region than they currently are. A truly just transition from fossil fuels cannot be achieved as long the current reliance on the Uyghur Region remains. 

With this objective in mind, Anti-Slavery International partnered with the Investor Alliance for Human Rights and the Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice at Sheffield Hallam University to publish a series of reports to support key stakeholders in the clean energy transition to address forced labour of Uyghurs and other Muslim and Turkic-majority peoples in the production of green technology: 

  1. For Investors: Respecting Rights in Renewable Energy Investor guidance to mitigate Uyghur forced labour risks in the renewable energy sector. This Guidance provides investment professionals with the tools to identify, exclude or engage businesses linked to human rights violations against the Uyghur people from their green energy portfolios. This Guidance also explores how investors can re-channel investments into companies which champion sustainability, innovation, and supply chain resilience.
    1. An accompanying annex to the Investor Guidance 
  2. For Governments: Respecting Rights in Renewable Energy: Supporting Investment in Sustainable and Ethical Green Technologies: A policy brief to the UK Government. A coordinated and comprehensive response from governments and international institutions will be critical to helping investors and industries operationalise the changes necessary to shift the landscape of green energy production. As such, this policy brief includes recommendations on legislative and regulation actions to the UK Government to support a shift of clean energy supply chains away from the Uyghur Region. Although targeted to the UK Government, this policy brief includes recommendations which are applicable to other governments.
  1. For all readers: “Respecting Rights in Renewable Energy: Addressing forced labour of Uyghurs and other Muslim and Turkic-majority peoples in the production of green technology”. A summary of our findings and recommendations across the project. 

You can also read our blog explaining the research, core recommendations and considerations for a just transition. 

The project was funded through an open call for proposals by the Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre (Modern Slavery PEC), which in turn is funded and supported by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). 

Photo credit: Peter Chou Kee Liu. Creative Commons license.