A child breaking cocoa pods

The Global Civil Society, an international coalition of civil society organisations working on human rights in the cocoa sector across the world, has called for an end to Child Labour in the industry.

The call by Global Civil Society is for governments and other stakeholders to enforce measures that will end the phenomenon as soon as practicable.

In a press statement to mark the World Day Against Child Labour, commemorated annually, on June 12 globally, the coalition said, “we urgently call on chocolate & cocoa companies and governments to start living up to decades-old promises.

“The cocoa sector must come up with plans to develop transparent and accountable solutions for current and future generations of children in cocoa communities.”

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. However, “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.”

According to reports cited in the press release, “close to 1.5 million children are engaged in hazardous or age-inappropriate work on cocoa farms in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.”

The press release further indicated that, “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.”

“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,” it added.

The Global Civil Society, thus, called for due diligence with regard to compliance with human rights by companies operating in all major cocoa consuming countries.

It added that, “every chocolate and cocoa company should have a system in place that monitors and remedies child labour tendencies in all of their value chains.

“The impact of these systems must be communicated publicly and transparently in a way that enables meaningful participation and access to remedy for workers and their representatives.”

The Civil Society organisation further called for cocoa and chocolate industry stakeholders to build effective partnerships between producer and consumer countries for a more inclusive framework to remedy the situation.

“These must be developed in a much more inclusive manner than previous attempts, bringing in civil society organisations, independent trade unions, local communities, and farmer representatives.

“Adequate resources must be provided to enable these local actors to participate as equals in the development and implementation of solutions,” the statement said.