Press Release: Report reveals critical flaws in the ILO’s third party monitoring of forced labour in Uzbekistan

18 Sep 2018


Media Release

Report reveals critical flaws in the ILO’s third party monitoring of forced labour in Uzbekistan


The Corruption and Human Rights Initiative in partnership with the International State Crime Initiative has published a report evaluating the methodology, ethical protocol and data analysis techniques used by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Third Party Monitoring unit to measure incidences of forced and child labour within Uzbekistan’s cotton sector.

The report is authored by Professor Kristian Lasslett, a world leading methodologist, and Vanessa Gstrein an international development specialist. It reveals material errors of fact, significant methodological flaws, and an ethical protocol that has breached the rights of vulnerable participants.

Professor Kristian Lasslett observes: ‘Our evaluation uncovered very basic errors in data analysis. This signposted a monitoring process marked by much deeper methodological and ethical flaws. Third party monitoring of forced labour has an important role to play in Uzbekistan’s reform process. But in its current form monitoring lacks the research integrity or organisational independence required to act as a trusted and accurate gauge of progress’.


Key shortcomings documented in the CHRI report include:

  1. The failure to obtain informed consent from vulnerable participants;
  2. A high risk that cotton pickers did not freely participate in interviews;
  3. The confidentiality of interviews and the anonymity of participants were not adequately secured;
  4. Vulnerable participants’ wellbeing was compromised, including being exposed to the risk of retaliation;
  5. Data-collection was conducted under conditions that raise serious concerns over its accuracy;
  6. Serious flaws were uncovered in the research design, methodology, and analysis, which potentially impacted on data-sets and associated factual assessments;
  7. Clearly inconsistent and inaccurate information appeared in the 2017 harvest report suggesting weaknesses in quality control; and
  8. There was a failure to ensure the third party monitoring team operated at arms-length from government in a way that would secure the report’s real, and perceived, independence.


Amongst the greatest concern to CHRI researchers in the 2017 ILO harvest report, was the lack of explicit reference to the vulnerability of participants who may be victims of state-organised labour, the particular sensitivities this prompts for research, or the complexities associated with conducting accurate fieldwork in a deeply authoritarian country where surveillance, arbitrary detention, torture, and repression are lived realities for citizens.

The authors have provided detailed recommendations to the ILO in an effort to assist reform of third party monitoring design and delivery.


Full Report (English and Russian)

English: Measuring Forced Labour in an Authoritarian Context – An Evaluation of ILO Third Party Monitoring in Uzbekistan

RussianИзмерение Масштабов Принудительного Труда в Авторитарном Контексте: Экспертная Оценка Мониторинга Третьей Стороной МОТ в Узбекистане


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Fatima Kanji

Research and Policy Manager