Africa: Child Labor in Cocoa Fields/ Harkin-Engel Protocol

In September 2011, eight companies in the chocolate and cocoa industry including ADM, Barry Callebaut, Cargill, Ferrero, The Hershey Company, Kraft Foods, Mars, Incorporated, and Nestlé have pledged US $2 million to a new Public-Private Partnership (PPP) with the ILO to combat child labor in cocoa growing communities in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. The US $2 million contribution will support IPEC’s work during the next four years in three key areas: strengthening the capacity of governments, social partners and cocoa farmers to combat the worst forms of child labor in cocoa growing communities; supporting the development and extension of community-based child labor monitoring systems; and enhancing the coordination role of tripartite national child labor steering committees to those ends.

Since the signing of the Harkin-Engel Protocol in 2001, particular attention has been paid towards the elimination of the worst forms of child labor in the cocoa supply chain in West Africa.

On September 13, 2010, U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, the Labor Ministers of Ghana and the Ivory Coast and Lawrence Graham, President of the National Confectioners Association signed a Declaration of Joint Action to Support Implementation of the Harkin-Engel Protocol that aims to reduce the worst forms of child labor by 70 percent across the cocoa sectors of Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire by 2020. The Declaration was witnessed by U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, Congressman Elliot Engel and ILO Washington Director Nancy Donaldson. Secretary Solis announced a commitment of $10 million to the initiative on behalf of the U.S. Department of Labor to help remediate children caught in the worst forms of child labor. This public-private partnership also includes a $7 million commitment from the international chocolate and cocoa industry, with an additional $3 million in potential increases to existing projects meeting the goals of the Harkin-Engel Protocol.

This Declaration of Joint Action builds on an initial protocol formally entitled "Protocol for the Growing and Processing of Cocoa Beans and Their Derivative Products In a Manner that Complies With ILO Convention 182 Concerning The Prohibition and Immediate Action For The Elimination Of The Worst Forms Of Child Labor". The protocol was established in 2001 by Senator Tom Harkin and Congressman Eliot Engel to address the use of child labor in the cocoa sector. The World Cocoa Foundation, the Chocolate Manufacturers Association, and its members committed to address the worst forms of child labor in the growing and processing of cocoa beans and derivative products in West Africa. The protocol laid out an Action Plan and steps to eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor. Since its inception, Ghana and the Ivory Coast have implemented child-labor-free certification programs, conducted surveys about the practice and publicly posted the results. Moreover, these countries have committed to address issues identified through the data collection and reporting process.