Global Civil Society, a group of civil society organisation working on human right in the cocoa sector across the world, has said the cocoa sector must come with ambitious plans to develop transparent and accountable solutions for current and future generations of children in cocoa communities.
“We urgently call on chocolate and cocoa companies and governments to start living up to decades-old promises.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the chocolate industry’s promise to end child labour in the cocoa sector of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, a commitment they made under the 2001 Harkin-Engel Protocol and renewed again with the 2010 Framework of Action. Furthermore, it is the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour,” the organisation said.
According to the civil society organsisation, this year should have been a landmark in the fight against child labour in cocoa, saying, the cocoa sector as a whole has been conspicuously quiet on this topic instead.
They said child labour is still a reality on West African cocoa farms, and there is strong evidence that forced labour continues in the sector as well.
The organization said recent reports – such as Ghana’s GLSS 7 survey and the study of the University of Chicago commissioned by the United States government – show that close to 1.5 million children are engaged in hazardous or age-inappropriate work on cocoa farms in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.
The vast majority of these child labourers, they said, are exposed to the worst forms of child labour, such as carrying heavy loads, working with dangerous tools, and increasing exposure to harmful agrochemicals.
“After two decades of rhetoric, voluntary initiatives, and pilot projects, it is clearer than ever that ambitious, sector-wide action is needed, coupled with binding regulations, to address both child labour and the poverty that lies at its root.
These solutions must include regulations for mandatory human rights due diligence for companies operating in all major cocoa consuming countries, including avenues for legal remedy in those companies’ home countries.
We note with interest the developments around regulations in the European Union, although the announced delays are concerning.
We also observe that the United States – the world’s number one cocoa consuming country – is particularly lagging in regulatory developments on this issue,” the global organisation said.
The industry, the civil society organization said, cannot use a lack of regulation as an excuse not to shoulder their own responsibility. As such, it urged every chocolate and cocoa company to have a system in place that monitors and remediates child labour in all of their value chains with a child labour risk.