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News and Information

The following articles serve as a brief history of chocolate slavery - a good introduction to the parties involved and a timeline of the major events:

Mali's Children in Chocolate Slavery, BBC News, 12 April, 2001. One of the first reports documenting chocolate slavery in the Ivory Coast (aka Cote d'Ivoire)

A Taste of Slavery, by Sudarsan Raghavan and Sumana Chatterjee, Knight Ridder Newspapers, June 24, 2001. This series puts a face on the tragedy of chocolate slavery by introducing the reader to some of its victims. It also provides some insight into the causes of the slavery and the chocolate industry's role in it:

The Cocoa Protocol: Success or Failure? June 30, 2008, An evaluation by the International Labor Rights Forum of the cocoa industry's progress on addressing the child labor problem, as of 2008. While the issue is complex, their findings can be summarized as "The original intent of the 'protocol' has not been achieved, and consumers today have no more assurance than they did eight years ago that trafficked or exploited child labor was not used in the production of their chocolate."

Harkin-Engel Protocol. As media reports on chocolate slavery drew increasing attention, Congress began to pressure the chocolate industry over the allegations. Legislation to ban slave-produced chocolate was introduced, but the industry fought it off by agreeing to take care of the problem themselves. Their pledges were spelled out in the Harkin-Engel Protocol.

Joint Statement from U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, Representative Eliot Engel and the Chocolate/Cocoa Industry on Efforts to Address the Worst Forms of Child Labor in Cocoa Growing Protocol Work Continues, July 1, 2005. The chocolate industry broke their promise, detailed in the Harkin-Engel Protocol, to eliminate slavery in their supply chain by July 1, 2005. Here they try to gloss over that fact and pretend, crying crocodile tears, that they are deeply committed to ending the suffering. A first-rate lesson in half-truths, omissions, and distortions for any budding PR hack.

Joint Statement from U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, Representative Eliot Engel and the Chocolate and Cocoa Industry on the Implementation of the Harkin-Engel Protocol, 2008, June 16, 2008.

Did Child Slaves Harvest Your Latest Chocolate Treat? by Kyle Scheihagen, OpEdNews.com, July 8, 2005. Here was my take on the failure of the Protocol and the industry's subsequent empty promises. I humbly submit it here because I think it provides a brief but adequate description of what's transpired thus far, and what we must do in the future.

Child Labor in the Cocoa Industry, International Labor Rights Fund: The ILRF has taken several legal actions on the child labor issue, including filing a lawsuit against Nestle, ADM, and Cargill for using forced labor. This site contains information on these actions, as well as analysis of the chocolate industry's response and the IMF and World Bank's role.

More Information

For a more in-depth understanding of the issues, the articles linked to below, written both before and after the failure of the Harkin-Engel Protocol, will be of use:

Chocolate's not-so-sweet side. msnbc, February 12, 2009. Slideshow on chocolate labor abuses. "While Valentines Day chocolates should be filled with nothing but sweetness, their origins are not always so pretty. Take a glimpse at where 40 percent of the worlds chocolate comes from."

The News on Chocolate is Bittersweet. Global Exchange, June 2005. A comprehensive, academic account of the causes of, and possible solutions to, chocolate slavery. It is quite lengthy, but is an excellent source for learning about the broader issues involved.

Bittersweet Chocolate, Caroline Tiger, Salon Magazine, February 14, 2003. A comprehensive article about problems in the chocolate industry, chocolate manufacturers' response, and fair trade chocolate.

The Chocolate Industry: Abusive Child Labor and Poverty Behind the Sweetness, Global Exchange. A comprehensive article about problems in the chocolate industry, chocolate manufacturers' response, and fair trade chocolate.

Global Exchange Fair Trade News Archive. Collection of articles about fair trade products, including chocolate. Search for the topic "[Chocolate]" on this page.

Global Exchange Chocolate Campaign. Global Exchange's chocolate slavery campaign involves buying fair trade chocolate and sending letters to M&M/Mars and World's Finest.

While Chocolate Lovers Smile, Child Cocoa Workers Cry. Abusive Child Labor in the Cocoa Industry: How Corporations and International Financial Institu- tions Are Causing It, and How Fair Trade Can Solve It. Global Exchange, 2003.

Child Labor in the Cocoa Sector of West Africa: A synthesis of findings in Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, and Nigeria on child labor on West Africa cocoa farms, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, 2002.

Combating Child Trafficking in West and Central Africa, World of Work, International Labor Organization, 2001. This report condludes "that trafficking in children is widespread in West Africa."

U.S. State Department Report on Ivory Coast 2000. This report "concluded that in recent years approximately 15,000 children aged 9 to 12 have been sold into forced labor on cotton, coffee and cocoa plantations in the north of " Ivory Coast.

Harkin-Engel Protocol on Chocolate and Child Slavery Expires on July 1 : Human Rights Groups Say the Chocolate Industry Broke Its Promise to Eradicate Illegal Child Labor from Chocolate Production; Call for Legislation. Global Exchange, June 30, 2005.

Taking Child Slavery Out of Valentine's Day, Harkin & Engel, Los Angeles Times, February 14, 2005.

Stories from Cocoa Farm Co-ops, Global Exchange.

Great Stories: Slavery Exists Out of Sight in Brazil, Knight Ridder, September 5, 2004. This is a actually a story about slavery unrelated to chocolate. Other than the products and places involved, however, the story is essentially the same, from the victims and the victimizers, to the mendacious responses of industry spokespeople. We include it here as a reminder that slavery is widespread, but also to point out that any solution for it in one place might serve as model for ending it everywhere, since its causes and effects are largely the same wherever it exists.

The Dark Side of Chocolate, AlertNet, WireTap, Kate McMahon, October 28, 2005. "This Halloween, know where your chocolate comes from. Here's your guide to ensuring that your treats weren't produced by enslaved children."

Trading Values: Fair Trade Bites Into Big Chocolate. Interview With Rodney North Of Equal Exchange. January 23, 2006. In this interview, Rodney North touches on cocoa farmers' lack of bargaining power, the trafficking of children cocoa workers, the Harkin-Engle protocol, and how to make industry care, among other things.

Frontline World: Guatemala/Mexico - Coffee Country. Frontline World report on coffee growers in Guatemala and Mexico. "As a worldwide glut of coffee beans forces Central American farmers and their families off their land, FRONTLINE/World's Sam Quinones follows a group of gourmet coffee importers who advocate "fair trade" as a partial solution to the crisis. He meets tasters, buyers and indigenous farmers in remote coffee-growing regions."


Last Updated January 19, 2009.


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Please note that the slave-free chocolate page has been updated and that we've added an FAQ as of 01/19/2009.




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