Children in cocoa production

Children in cocoa production

The widespread use of children in cocoa production is controversial not only because of the usual concerns about child labor and exploitation, but also because up to 12,000 of the 200,000 children working in Ivory Coast, the world's biggest producer of cocoa,[1] may be victims of human trafficking or slavery.[2] Most attention on this subject has focused on West Africa, which collectively supplies nearly 80% of the world's cocoa,[3] and Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) in particular, which supplies half of the world's cocoa.[4] Thirty percent of children under age 15 in sub-Saharan Africa are child laborers, mostly in agricultural activities including cocoa farming.[5] The major chocolate producers such as Nestle buy cocoa at commodities exchanges where Ivorian cocoa is mixed with other cocoa.[3]


Studies and reports

  • A 1998 report from the Ivory Coast office of UNICEF concluded that some Ivory Coast farmers use enslaved children, many of them from Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin and Togo.[6]
  • The 2001 report "A Taste of Slavery: How Your Chocolate May be Tainted" won a George Polk Award. It claimed that traffickers promise paid work, housing, and education to children who are forced to labour and undergo severe abuse, that some children are held forcibly on farms and work up to 100 hours per week, and that attempted escapees are beaten. It quoted a former slave: "The beatings were a part of my life" and "when you didn't hurry, you were beaten."[6][7][8][9][10][11]
  • Some children from Sikasso and Mali, were believed sold as slaves;[12] 15,000 children from Mali, some under age 11, were producing cocoa in the Côte d'Ivoire.[12] Mali's Save the Children Fund director described "young children carrying 6 kg of cocoa sacks so heavy that they have wounds all over their shoulders."[12]
  • Many Ivory Coast cocoa plantations use forced labor.[13] A ship was found near West Africa allegedly carrying child slaves.[13]
  • The Chocolate Manufacturers Association acknowledged that slaves harvested some cocoa.[11]
  • S. Chanthavong reported in 2002 that children in neighboring countries are often found traveling or begging and lured to the Ivory Coast, where they are sold.[14]
  • A 2005 report from the International Labor Organization noted that of the 200,000 children working on cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast, 12,000 are not working with or in the vicinity of their relatives, suggesting possible trafficking in a maximum of 6% of cases of child labor.[2]
  • A 2006 study showed many children working on small farms in the Ivory Coast, often on family farms. Over 11,000 people working on small Ivorian cocoa farms were surveyed.
  • Another book was published: Carol Off, Bitter Chocolate:Investigating the Dark Side of the World's Most Seductive Sweet. Random House Canada (2006), 336 pages, hardcover. ISBN 978-0-679-31319-9 (0-679-31319-2)
  • UNICEF's Representative in Côte d'Ivoire, stated in 2007 that:

    Likewise, children from neighbouring countries such as Burkina Faso, Togo and Mali are brought to Côte d’Ivoire to work in its robust cocoa farming industry, among other outlets for child labour. Their rights are not respected and they are exposed to wide-ranging exploitation and abuse.[15]

  • The International Labor Organization,[16] the BBC[4] and Stop the Traffik[17] released reports on the subject.
  • A report funded by the U.S. Department of Labor concluded that "Industry and the Governments of Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana have taken steps to investigate the problem and are implementing projects that address issues identified in the Protocol."[18]

In June 2009, the OECD released a position paper on child labor on West African Cocoa Farms, and launched a website on its Regional Cocoa Initiative.

Certification process

Efforts are under way to establish an industry-wide voluntary certification process for cocoa produced without the use of child labor.[18] However, these efforts are not yet complete, and there are currently only a few small independent firms claiming to produce chocolate without the use of child labor or human trafficking.

Harkin-Engel Protocol

The Harkin-Engel Protocol of 2001 (see Appendix 1 of[18] ) was a commitment by the industry groups World Cocoa Foundation and Chocolate Manufacturers Association (now known as the Chocolate Council of the National Confectioners Association) to develop and implement voluntary standards to certify cocoa produced without the "worst forms of child labor," (defined according to the International Labor Organization's Convention 182) by the year 2005. This deadline was not met. In 2004, a Verification Working Group was funded by industry; however, funding was discontinued in 2006.[18]

Position statements and legislation

In September 2005, Dutch member of parliament Femke Halsema filed a motion to abolish European imports of slave-processed cacao.[19] Statements have been issued by Anti-Slavery International,[20] the Anti-Slavery Society,[21] Fred E. Foldvary, the Organic Consumers Association [22] and StoptheTraffick UK.[23]

See also


  1. ^ Hawksley, Humphrey (4 May 2001). "Ivory Coast accuses chocolate companies". BBC News. Retrieved 4 August 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "Combatting Child Labour in Cocoa Growing" (PDF). International Labor Organization. 2005. 
  3. ^ a b "The cocoa market: A background study" (PDF). Oxfam. 2002. 
  4. ^ a b Hawksley, Humphrey (2 April 2007). "Child cocoa workers still 'exploited'". BBC News. Retrieved 4 August 2010. 
  5. ^ "Rooting out child labour from cocoa farms: Paper No. 4 Child labour monitoring – A partnership of communities and government". International Labor Organization. 2007.;jsessionid=0a038009cee0ccecc1079524dd2be22e7bc286da8c5.hkzFngTDp6WImQuUaNaLa3D3lN4K-xaIah8S-xyIn3uKmAiN-AnwbQbxaNvzaAmI-huKa30xgx95fjWTa3eIpkzFngTDp6WImQuxbN8Nbh4SahiK8OexhOaOgzX9i4j38QfznA5Pp7ftolbGmkTy?type=document&id=6447. 
  6. ^ a b Raghavan, Sudarsan; Sumana Chatterjee (June 24, 2001). "Slaves feed world's taste for chocolate: Captives common in cocoa farms of Africa". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 
  7. ^ Raghavan, Sudarsan (June 25, 2001). "Two boys tell of descent into slavery". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 
  8. ^ Raghavan, Sudarsan (June 24, 2001). "Traffickers target boys in cocoa trade". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 
  9. ^ "SAJAers In The News". 2002. 
  10. ^ Foldvary, Fred (2001). "Chocolate worker slavery". The Progress Report. 
  11. ^ a b Chatterjee, Sumana (August 1, 2001). "Chocolate Firms Launch Fight Against 'Slave Free' Labels". Philadelphia Inquirer. 
  12. ^ a b c Hawksley, Humphrey (April 12, 2001). "Mali's children in chocolate slavery". BBC News. Retrieved January 2, 2010. 
  13. ^ a b Blewett, Kate; Brian Woods (2001). "Slavery: A global investigation". 
  14. ^ Chanthavong, Samlanchith (2002). "Chocolate and Slavery: Child Labor in Cote d'Ivoire". TED Case Studies Number 664. American University. 
  15. ^ Chevigny, Blue (14 June 2007). "Child trafficking in Côte d’Ivoire: Efforts under way to reverse a tragic trend". Retrieved 4 August 2010. 
  16. ^ "Rooting out child labour from cocoa farms". International Labor Organization. 2007. 
  17. ^ Stop the Traffik chocolate factsheet PDF
  18. ^ a b c d [|Payson Center for International Development and Technology Transfer of Tulane University] (October 31, 2007). "First annual report: Oversight of public and private initiatives to eliminate the worst forms of child labor in the cocoa sector in Cote d-Ivoire and Ghana" (PDF). 
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ "'Slavery' behind Easter chocolate". BBC News. April 6, 2007. Retrieved April 28, 2010. 

Further reading

  • Lowell J. Satre, Chocolate on Trial: Slavery, Politics & the Ethics of Business, Ohio University Press (2005), 308 pages, hardcover ISBN 0-8214-1625-1, trade paperback ISBN 0-8214-1626-X

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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