[fyeg_gen-l] Fwd: chocolate slavery (again)

markus petz councillortothewise at yahoo.de
Mon Feb 28 18:05:54 CET 2005

Here in the UK I heard that the Fairtrade products
have increased by a huge amount particulalry in the
younger age group.

However that this story about child exploitation is
still happening reveals there is more work to go. I am
most surprised at Mars as they always seem to have
quite a good reputation for looking after those who
work for them.

They have 5 principles  - reminds me of teh 5 pillars
of Islam... In one you find "ethical practices and
high standards of corporate responsibility;"

I mailed them to ask.


> harkin14feb14,1,4862621.story?ctrack=2&cset=true
> Taking Child Slavery Out of Valentine's Day
>   On Valentine's Day, there will be no chocolate
> gifts for young Aly  
> Diabate. "I don't know what chocolate is," said Aly,
> who was forced  
> into slavery at age 11 to harvest cocoa beans in
> Ivory Coast. Aly's  
> ignorance of chocolate is forgivable. Like tens of
> thousands of other  
> child slaves on cocoa farms in Ivory Coast, he
> subsists on a diet of  
> corn paste and bananas.
>   Less forgivable is the fact that chocolate lovers
> in the West have  
> been kept in the dark about these harsh realities.
> Few realize that  
> most of the cocoa beans that go into Nestle, Mars
> and Hershey candy  
> bars come from Ivory Coast, where thousands of
> enslaved boys — some as  
> young as 9 — work in the most squalid, brutal
> conditions imaginable.
>   According to one report, the child slaves of Ivory
> Coast "are whipped,  
> beaten and broken like horses to harvest the
> almond-sized beans that  
> are made into chocolate treats for more fortunate
> children in Europe  
> and the United States."
>   We have long been active in efforts to stop
> exploitative child labor,  
> as well as trafficking in slaves. So when news
> reports on the abuse of  
> children on cocoa farms first emerged in 2001, we
> were determined to  
> stop it. We knew that if consumers learned about the
> brutal realities  
> of cocoa production, their taste for chocolate would
> sour. Sales — and  
> the Ivorian economy — would plummet. But that was
> not our goal. We  
> wanted to stop child slavery, not chocolate
> production.
>   We viewed a legislative remedy not as a first
> resort but as a last  
> resort. So, in good faith, we engaged the major
> chocolate companies in  
> lengthy, intense negotiations. The result was the
> Harkin-Engel  
> Protocol, signed in 2001.
>   The companies agreed to join with other
> stakeholders to produce an  
> agreement for eliminating the worst forms of child
> and slave labor  
> throughout the chain of chocolate production, and to
> do so  
> expeditiously. They also agreed to implement an
> industrywide voluntary  
> certification system to give a public accounting of
> labor practices in  
> the cocoa-growing countries. This would enable
> consumers to make  
> better-informed choices.
>   This kind of certification approach is already
> being used effectively  
> to combat trafficking in "blood diamonds." In
> several diamond-rich  
> African countries racked by civil war and human
> rights abuses,  
> belligerents have funded their activities by mining
> and selling  
> diamonds. The Clinton administration helped to
> create a  
> country-of-origin certification system for diamonds.
> And President Bush  
> signed a law prohibiting importation into the United
> States of any  
> diamonds not controlled by this system.
>   There are an estimated 1.5 million small cocoa
> farms spread across  
> four desperately poor countries in Africa, including
> Ivory Coast. The  
> protocol established a public-private partnership
> enlisting government,  
> industry, labor unions, nongovernmental
> organizations and consumer  
> groups. The U.S. government's role is to ensure that
> whatever  
> certification plan emerges from this process is
> credible and effective  
> in eliminating abusive child- and slave-labor
> practices in the cocoa  
> industry and ensuring the rehabilitation of the
> victims.
>   We have done our best to accommodate the chocolate
> companies. We  
> preferred a two-year deadline for the creation of an
> industrywide  
> certification regime, but agreed to four years. We
> all agreed that the  
> regime was to be completed on July 1, followed by
> rigorous  
> implementation.
>   Last month, however, the companies informed us
> that they would not  
> meet the deadline. Instead, they planned to initiate
> a small pilot  
> program in Ghana and, perhaps, in Ivory Coast.
> Although this is  
> certainly a positive step, it falls woefully short
> of the robust action  
> promised in the protocol.
>   The time for talk has passed. Children are
> suffering. Will the  
> chocolate companies redouble their efforts and make
> good on their  
> commitments? Or, as with blood diamonds, will
> legislation be necessary?  
> Our preference is for the chocolate industry to take
> charge of its own  
> destiny. But if corporate responsibility is lacking,
> government will  
> have a responsibility to act.
>   This Valentine's Day, much of our chocolate will
> be bittersweet —  
> tainted by the suffering of Aly Diabate and
> countless other cocoa  
> slaves. Our hope is that, by next Valentine's Day,
> consumers will be  
> able to purchase chocolate with a clear conscience.

Markus Petz
Communications Officer
Federation of Young European Greens 

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