Fairtrade redoubles efforts to eliminate child labor in West African cocoa sector

30 septiembre 2010

Fairtrade is committed to supporting the U.S. government’s efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labour in the Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana cocoa sectors, as outlined in a report released September 30th by the Payson Center for International Development at Tulane University.

The U.S. Labor Department-sponsored report on “Oversight of Public and Private Initiatives to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor in the Cocoa Sector” (PDF 7.2MB) concludes that industry, local governments and partners have made very positive advances under the Harkin-Engel Protocol, but that child labour nevertheless remains common in West African cocoa production. Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO) and its partners are taking concrete steps to support the report’s recommended actions to eliminate child labour.

“Fairtrade is committed to combating the root causes of child labour and in partnership with expert civil society organizations actively preventing the abuse and exploitation of children,” says Tuulia Syvänen, FLO’s Chief Operating Officer.

The report recommends product certification as “a vehicle that would allow industry to live up to the commitments made in the Harkin-Engel Protocol.” It also calls for “more direct company action with regard to ethical sourcing” and identifies poverty-related factors as contributing to the issue.

Independent certification to detect child labour
The Fairtrade standards prohibit exploitative child labour. Qualified auditors inspect Fairtrade producer organizations on a regular basis to monitor for child labour. If detected, Fairtrade takes immediate action to address it and to protect the children involved. Fairtrade suspends or decertifies the Fairtrade producer organization where these worst forms of labour are found until protective and corrective measures are put in place. Producer organizations must set up internal systems to identify and eliminate child labour within their own communities and build partnerships with local expert civil society organizations to ensure that they are proceeding in a manner that is consistent with relevant international conventions.

Renewed capacity to respond to impacted and at risk children
Fairtrade is engaging with child rights organizations and experts in the field. FLO has conducted trainings with its field officers in Africa, South and Central America and soon in Asia on how to support cooperatives to identify, remediate and prevent child labour.

FLO met with experts and stakeholders in July to obtain feedback on its approach and agree on a set of recommendations to develop a comprehensive framework of action for eliminating child labour in the West African cocoa sector.

Building sustainable livelihoods for cocoa-growing families
Child labour is not only a problem faced by individual children and their families, but is perpetuated by poverty, discrimination and unfair terms of trade. Fairtrade’s focus is to strengthen the position of farmers and workers in international supply chains, help them become organized within their communities, and earn a better deal from the sale of their products. Fairtrade is scaling up its efforts to identify and address social factors and practices that contribute to the exploitive labour of children.

Through Fairtrade, farmers groups are able to earn an additional development premium that they can invest in education, health, housing and other key social and environmental improvements. Paying farmers a fairer price for their cocoa is one crucial way for moving away from a reliance on child labour in the long term.

For more information please contact: Tuulia Syvänen at t.syvaenen@fairtrade.net or +49-228-242 1713.

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