Xenophon Strategies has a nearly $600K contract with Uzbekistan designed to highlight its progress on improving human rights with the goal of ending the cotton boycott erected against the former Soviet republic.

More than 300 US and European fashion and apparel companies have pledged not to knowingly use cotton from Uzbekistan because of the use of forced labor during the cotton harvest.

Xenophon will produce an environmental, social and governance report for Uzbekistan, create a branded communications campaign centered on its governmental reforms, international trade and economic development, and pitch the US media on behalf of Uzbekistan's export promotion agency.

CEO David Fuscus heads the US effort with senior VP Mark Hazlin, VP Jennifer Lay, researcher Tammy Lindenberg and creative director Caroline Davis.

Xenophon's sister shop, Germany-based Cometis, is handling outreach for Europe.

Foreign Policy magazine recently ran dueling op-ed pieces related to Uzbekistan.

A March 28 piece called for an end of the boycott due to Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev's March 6 move to eliminate cotton production quotas that were put into place during the 1920.

That system encouraged the use of forced labor, bringing more than 2M workers into the fields to pick cotton by hand. Due to mechanization, that number dropped to more than 100K last year.

A May 28 commentary argued that ironclad commitments for responsible sourcing and investment that respects labor and human rights must be in place before ending the boycott.