Sustainability

Influential group of NGOs calls cocoa sector’s collective silence on child labour ‘shameful and inappropriate’

By Anthony Myers contact

- Last updated on GMT

Latest research shows close to 1.5 million children are engaged in hazardous or age-inappropriate work on cocoa farms in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. Pic ICI
Latest research shows close to 1.5 million children are engaged in hazardous or age-inappropriate work on cocoa farms in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. Pic ICI

Related tags: Cocoa, Child labor

A coalition of global civil societies has renewed its calls for the elimination of child labour in the cocoa industry - in both consuming and producing nations.

In a statement released to mark International Day for the Elimination of Child Labour (12 June), it said cocoa companies and governments must start living up to decades-old promises to tackle child labour in the cocoa sector.

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

It points out that this year should have been a landmark in the fight against child labour in cocoa. Instead, the cocoa sector as a whole has been conspicuously quiet on this topic.

It is time that the cocoa sector lived up to its promises and started to deliver on a sector wide and ambitious plan to tackle child labour and poverty. The industry’s collective silence this year is shameful and inappropriate​,” it said.

The Global Civil Society, or non-governmental organisations (NGOs), is an international coalition of civil society organisations working on human rights in the cocoa sector across the world.

In its statement, it claimed: “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. Recent reports – such as Ghana’s GLSS 7 survey and the [NORC] 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 are exposed to the worst forms of child labour, such as carrying heavy loads, working with dangerous tools, and increasing exposure to harmful agrochemicals.

According to the group, this year marks the 20th anniversary of the promise to end child labour in the cocoa sectors of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire by chocolate industry players.

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​,” it said.

As ConfectioneryNews reported in March, the International Cocoa Initiative and its members pledged to scale up child protection systems in 2021​.  In making the pledge ICI and its members join a host of other organizations, countries, and businesses who have pledged to tackle child labour in the context of Alliance 8.7’s campaign to increase awareness and boost action during this International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour​.

  • Read the full statement here​ (in English and in French).
  • The article was amended on 16.06.21 to include the ICI's earlier commitment on child labour in the cocoa industry.

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