grv029Child a consumer, buy chocolate that is manufactured

grv029Child labour in the Cocoa IndustryGlobal Politics Engagement ActivityWord count: 1998IntroductionChild labour and child education are mutually exclusive. This means that in developing third-world countries, 1.8 million children aged 5 to 17, are not getting the education they have a right to. Child labour is however a serious problem in any nation, as the economies are abusing the future aspirations of its nation, thereby unconsciously jeopardising any form of future sustainable development. Children are engaged to work from an unusual young age, being deprived of their legal rights, education, medical treatment, entertainment and nutritious foods. I bet you agree with me that these are violations of human rights, and that this is terrible, yet you probably question whether this is of any relevance to you. Well it is, as you, as a consumer, buy chocolate that is manufactured on cocoa farms in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana by these mistreated children. Us continuing to buy chocolate, means young children continue to work. Thus one could argue that we, as consumers, are partly responsible for the abuse of young children in West Africa. Now the question is, how can we, consumers and producers from foreign countries, try to abolish child slavery and bring an end to the worst forms of child labour in the cocoa industry? I chose this question because I find it shocking that the kids I’m doing my research on are about the same age as I am. However, here I am; learning about them, while those kids are not even attending school. Therefore it links to my personal life.MethodologyFor the Engagement Component of my project I conducted an interview with Henk from the fair-trade chocolate brand Tony’s Chocolonely, as this particular company has been fighting child labour since they started off their business. Unfortunately, many companies do not publish internal interviews or evaluations, as they experience that their projects still have many problems when it comes to poverty and child labour, resulting in negative responses to my requests for interviews with those companies, thus leading me to find out about these companies through research rather than conversations.For my Political Component I gave a presentation on child labour at my primary school, including a group discussion and posters on this issue. This led to surprising revelations, as young kids have a fresh view on this issue and really think out-of-the-box. SynthesisTo fight this problem we must first decide what the main problem is, and how it came to existence. If we trace the whole process back to the beginning, we’ll see that, as Tony’s said in my interview: ‘One of the key causes for child labour is the lack of a living income. In the current situation, farmers do not earn enough money to live decently – they are living below the poverty line. As a result, they make use of child labour (they cannot afford other labour)’  So poverty is the main driver of trafficking, as farmers are in desperate need of cheap, controllable labour. In addition, it is not uncommon across West Africa for children to leave home at an early age, whether on their own or at the behest of their family. Lotte Schuurman at the Fair Wear Foundation says: “If parents have no education they will end up in low-paid work; their children will be forced to work, they will miss out on their education, and they too will end up in low-paid work as adults. You need to get out of that vicious circle of poverty to decline child labour”. When parents are able to improve conditions through effective unions, children are less likely to have to work. Recognising child labour as a violation of human rights – the basic claims and entitlements that one should be able to exercise by simply being a human being – trade unions are joining with families and community organisations to combat child labour, to move children out of work, into school, and to support core labour standards. Strong unions are an important protection against child labour. Many workers and unions are supporting efforts to end child labour by forging alliances with unions in other countries. These unions cooperate to achieve enforceable global labour norms and hold transnational businesses accountable for labour practices. In this way, the number of children being enforced to work can be reduced.Another possible, yet complicated solution on a local scale, is the implementation and monitoring of laws that forbid child labour in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. Although the countries are open to discussions about these subjects, simultaneously, the ability to discuss the issue at community level seems to have become problematic. Farm owners do not seem to fully understand the consequence – children missing out on an education – of forcing kids to work at their farms; the way they see it, is they will not earn money at all, if they do not supply the demanded amount of cocoa to their buyers. Thus they need kids to help them and provide the local traders and international manufacturers with their cocoa. This ties in with discussions of power; who holds the rights to make these kids help the farmers and who holds the rights to decide whether or not it would be acceptable for children to work for this extremely low wage. Furthermore, child labour is closely linked with the concept of inequality, a state of affairs where equality between people or groups of people is not realised. One group, the cocoa farmers in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, is taking advantage of the other group, helpless young children who do not have a strong enough will to go against the big factories. Liberty is another big issue relating to this topic, seeing that these children do not have the liberty to say no to their parents, who are forcing them to work, or to their employers, as they apparently do not have freedom and autonomy, which is what liberty stands for. So as you can see, child labour is a terrible happening that has not been resolved just yet, however, with the help and cooperation of different unions and organisations – that consumers can join – we might be able to try and fight this problem. But how do we solve this problem, and whose responsibility is it to solve?I believe that there is not just one organisation or one group of people to blame, we all share the responsibility to make a change. Tony’s has set up a plan to try and eradicate this form of child labour, not only for the Netherlands but for the entire cocoa industry. One of the things Tony’s does to ensure no child labour has been used, is they pay their regular farmers a premium on top of the normal salary, as cocoa farmers hardly make enough money to make ends meet and to try and get them above the poverty line. In this way, the farmers will feel more motivated to produce and deliver good products, knowing they will make more out of it. Also, the cocoa industries they get their beans from are ones either in Ghana or Cote d’Ivoire, and they only accept beans from these companies, reassuring the farmers that they will still be doing business together in 10 years time, giving them the opportunity to invest in better machinery, more cocoa trees, etc. to eventually get a bigger harvest and thus more money. I think this method should be implemented by chocolate producers throughout the entire world, as this method is clearly very effective: Tony’s Chocolonely is a wealthy, beloved brand that our whole country knows and adores. When this is done, farmers will have a steady, decent income resulting in child labour becoming unnecessary.A study by UNICEF shows that, to begin with, school environments must be child-friendly and have high-quality education. All education systems in countries like Ghana must be improved, must be free, must be safe, and must be accessible to every member of the population. In order to break out of the poverty cycle, the education level must be high enough to reach that potential. However, we need to do more than only providing these kids with an education. Child labour is driven by poverty, therefore we need to ensure proper level of income for families, and we need to provide them with social protection, so they will never fall back into poverty. In this way, families will at least have a choice for their kids: education or labour. We need to raise awareness in those countries, that child labour is wrong and that it is not their only option. Social services must become accessible for everyone, and we must get rid of the morally wrong social norms and expectations of kids to work, rather than going to school. We must implement programmes that can help achieve the basic standards for a country’s economy, such as social health insurance, accessible child care and as much policies as possible, to ensure that we will break out of the poverty cycle and promote social change.Now what can we as consumers do about this issue. First of all we can join and support not only Tony’s Chocolonely, but also other companies, organisations and businesses that are battling against child labour, such as ICI or the Harkin-Engel protocol. Do something. Ask your family or friends if they know about this major issue and whether they eat slave-free chocolate. Confront companies and stores with the sales of slave-made chocolate, because child labour is illegal and it should not be tolerated. You can sign petitions and undertake action, look at Teun van de Keuken, founder of Tony’s Chocolonely: he sued himself for eating chocolate that had been illegally (through child labour) produced, hoping to be sentenced as a chocolate criminal. Underlying thought being, that if he could make it to jail, any other chocolate consumer would be punishable and in that way we could tackle the problem of child labour without the industry being able to stop us. This plan did not work out in the end, however, it lead to the start of amazing years being extremely effective in the battle against child labour. Furthermore, research at my primary school has shown that not everyone is aware of the seriousness of the situation; lots of kids had no idea how young the kids on the cocoa farms are, how dangerous their work is, and the biggest revelation: they did not know those kids don’t have a choice. They were shocked by all that new information and by me informing them, they became very eager to take action against child labour. So the most important thing that I learned from that lesson, was that we must raise more awareness, as lots of people are still in the dark about this issue, and if we spread the word and make posters and buy fair-trade chocolate, it can really make a difference.ConclusionAltogether there is really only one thing left to say and that is do something right now. Regardless of your chocolate eating habits, regardless of your interest towards this issue, child labour is something that concerns every single person on this planet. We must raise awareness about this issue worldwide and make a move, we must all work together in order to eradicate the worst form of child labour. Not only because these kids are being deprived of their childhoods and educations, also because there are lives being threatened, millions of kids being endangered at this very second. It really doesn’t matter who’s to blame for this, the only thing that matters, is that we do something and that we do it as soon as possible. Because it is possible. We truly have a fair shot of succeeding and defeating child labour. If we get African farmers to work with fair-trade companies, the kids aren’t needed anymore and they can start a real life. We must follow set examples by for instance Tony’s Chocolonely. And then, together, we will combat child labour.BibliographySlave Free Chocolate (2007) Children trafficked and used as slave labor on cocoa farms. How did this all come about? Retrieved October 5, 2017, from barometer (2015) Estimated annual profits of companies / farmer income a day. Retrieved October 17, 2017, from Amsterdam Economics (2016) Market Concentration and Price Formation in the Global Cocoa Value Chain. Retrieved October 17, 2017, from                                        Download ‘Market Concentration and Price Formation in the Global Cocoa Value Chain’ PDF document | 122 pagina’s | 5,5 MB Rapport | 15-11-2016            Chocolate Manufacturers Association (2001) 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 labour. Retrieved October 19, 2017, from van de Keuken (2015) 10 jaar Tony’s Chocolonely: Teun speecht. Retrieved October 19, 2017, fromé Cocoa Plan (2017) Tackling Child Labour. Retrieved October 19, 2017, from Owusu and Addo Gema Kwarteye (2008) An Empirical Analysis on the Determinants of Child Labor in Cocoa Production in Ghana. Retrieved January 11, 2018, from Murphy and Charles Gleek (2016) Global Politics. Pearson Education Limited, London.UNICEF (2008) Children at the Centre. Retrieved January 14, 2018, from Child Labour and UNICEF in Action: Children at the CentreUNICEF (2007) Child Labour, Education and Policy Options. Retrieved January 14, 2018, from Vasquez (2017) The Child Labor Epidemic. Retrieved January 14, 2018, from Chauhan (2012) Child Labour Public Education Project. Retrieved January 14, 2018, from