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Cocoa Campaign



Around 40% of the world’s cocoa production is supplied by plantations in the Ivory Coast. In order to reduce production costs, farmers employ children in the plantations, lowering the cost of cocoa worldwide. While chocolate is a delicious treat for most of us, thousands of children in West Africa and the Ivory Coast work in a system that exposes them to abuse and cruelty. The US Department of Labor estimates that more than 200,000 children in the Ivory Coast cocoa industry work under the worst forms of child labor, many of these children also being victims of human trafficking or enslavement.# Children rescued by the INTERPOL in the Ivory Coast report being forced to work 12 hours a day, suffering frequent beatings and receiving no salary or remuneration for their work. Cocoa is one of the top twenty most commonly traded commodities in the world, with North America consuming 25% of the world’s cocoa products and chocolate.# Vermont alone has at least 22 chocolate makers, and dozens of bakers and confectioners that rely heavily on cocoa for their products and the success of their business.
The Peace & Justice Center and Store have been working to promote Fair Trade and sustainability for years. We operate a Fair Trade store that supports many local artisans as well as dozens of groups internationally by providing a market for Fair Trade goods. The store especially benefits small villages and minority groups. Sixty-nine percent of the artisans and farmers involved in Fair Trade are ethnic minorities.# We are invested in Fair Trade because it guarantees that the producers of goods and commodities are fairly compensated for their work. We also use the store as an educational tool that allows us to communicate to customers the importance of supporting Fair Trade.

In an attempt to avoid media scrutiny and government regulations, the major chocolate companies in the United States, including Hershey and Nestlé, signed the Harkin and Engel# protocol in 2001 committing themselves to certify their cocoa “child labor-free” by July of 2005. In 2008 the deadline was extended with a goal that the major companies would certify 50% of their farms. According to a thorough study published by Tulane University,# as of 2011 the signatories have made few real and credible changes to ensure that children are not being forced to work or enslaved in the cocoa plantations. The chocolate companies continue to make billions—Hershey posted net profits near half a billion dollars in 2009 despite the recession.# Meanwhile, every day children continue to be trafficked and suffering abuse in the cocoa industry.#

This issue cannot be ignored. The Peace & Justice Center has adopted a campaign to work towards eliminating child labor in the chocolate industry.



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