Fairtrade’s work to eliminate child labour
Fairtrade prohibits child labour as defined by the International Labour Organization (ILO) minimum age and the worst forms of child labour conventions. No person or product certification system can, however, provide a 100% guarantee that a product is free of child labour.
What Fairtrade guarantees is that if we find breaches to our child labour requirements, we take immediate action to protect children. We prevent the impacted farms using child labour from entering the Fairtrade system, and support them and their communities to tackle the problem. Fairtrade has chosen to work in products and regions with known risk of child labour because this is where our work is most needed.
Fairtrade is committed to fighting the root causes of child labour and proactively preventing abuse and exploitation of children. We seek the advice and guidance from expert international non-governmental organizations to ensure the rights of children are upheld, including their right to live in a safe and protective environment.
We work with Fairtrade producer communities to encourage them to establish a child inclusive community based monitoring and remediation system in partnership with child rights NGOs so that boys and girls in producer communities can enjoy increased well being.
A proactive approach to addressing child labour
In the past two years, Fairtrade International (FLO) has focused on strengthening our work to protect children. Here are some of the highlights:
We hired a full time staff member to work on child labour and related child protection issues.
Training Fairtrade staff
We have completed the first phase of child labour and child protection training to relevant staff at Fairtrade International’s headquarters and in producer countries, including liaison officers in all our regions of operations. We will begin a second phase of training in the second quarter of 2012 targeted to countries and commodities in the U.S. Department of Labor List of Goods Produced by Child Labour or Forced Labour among others.
Engagement with child rights experts
We are building partnerships with expert organizations. We have sought feedback from experts and Fairtrade partners and received their recommendations for developing a rights-based strategy and framework of action for eliminating child labor in West Africa cocoa production.
Focus groups with children in Fairtrade communities
Fairtrade International held focus groups with school-going girls and boys in a number of Fairtrade communities about their education, work, future aspirations and the impact of Fairtrade on their lives – essential input as we develop our proactive approach to increased wellbeing of girls and boys and young people in Fairtrade communities.
Addressing root causes of child labour
Child labour is not only a problem perpetuated by poverty and unfair terms of trade, it is also a result of exploitation, lack of access to quality education and social protection, discrimination, conflict, HIV/AIDS and natural disasters, among others . Fairtrade focuses on strengthening the position of farmers and workers in international supply chains, supporting them to become organized within their communities and to earn a better deal from the sale of their produce.
Putting child protection first
Fairtrade International has instituted an internal Child Protection Policy and Procedure which governs how we act in case an incidence of child labour is detected and/or reported. As an essential part of this policy, Fairtrade understands that its first and foremost obligation is toward the safety and welfare of impacted children.
Internationally, child rights organizations and experts agree that exposing the identity of impacted children, their location, or the organizations or individuals working with them can result in threats to their health and safety the worst forms of physical abuse, re-trafficking or employment in even more clandestine and dangerous situations, and, in some cases, impacted children may even face death.
Therefore, Fairtrade is committed to protecting the identity of impacted children and will only engage child rights experts and government agencies responsible for child protection when working to secure their well being. We follow the guiding principles of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), especially the “Best Interests of the Child” principle and note that these should be given primary consideration when child labour is or at risk of being detected.