Child slavery in West Africa is still a major issue despite the efforts made by the Harkin-Engel Protocol in 2001.

Child slavery in West Africa is still a major issue despite the efforts made by the Harkin-Engel Protocol in 2001.

The Harkin-Engel Protocol

What is it? 

In 2001  Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY) introduced legislative amendment to fund the development of a "No child slavery" label for chocolate products sold in the U.S.  Tom Harkin (D-IA) became involved and essentially the amendment was watered down to create the "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" and adult forced labor on cocoa farms in West Africa.

It was signed by the 8 largest companies, two US Senators, one US congressman, the Ambassador to the Ivory Coast, and a few NGO and industry alliance representatives.

The industry groups World Cocoa Foundation and the  Chocolate Manufacturers Association committed  to develop and implement voluntary standards to certify cocoa produced without the "worst forms of child labor," (defined according to the International Labor Organization's Convention 182) by July 2005.

Excerpt from Wikipedia:

The Harkin–Engel Protocol is a voluntary public-private agreement to eliminate the worst forms of child labor (defined according to theInternational Labor Organization (ILO)'s Convention 182) in the growth and processing of cocoa in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.[14] The protocol was a voluntary agreement that partnered governments, the global cocoa industry, cocoa producers, cocoa laborers, non-governmenal organizations.[13] The agreement laid out a series of date-specific actions, including the development of voluntary standards of public certification.[13] The Protocol did not commit the industry to ending all child labor in cocoa production, only the worst forms of it. The parties agreed to a six-article plan:

  1. Public statement of the need for and terms of an action plan—The cocoa industry acknowledged the problem of forced child labor and will commit "significant resources" to address the problem.
  2. Formation of multi-sectoral advisory groups—By 1 October 2001, an advisory group will be formed to research labor practices. By 1 December 2001, industry will form an advisory group and formulate appropriate remedies to address the worst forms of child labor.
  3. Signed joint statement on child labor to be witnessed at the ILO—By 1 December 2001, a statement must be made recognizing the need to end the worst forms of child labor and identify developmental alternatives for the children removed from labor.
  4. Memorandum of cooperation—By 1 May 2002, Establish a joint action program of research, information exchange, and action to enforce standards to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. Establish a monitor and compliance with the standards.
  5. Establish a joint foundation—By 1 July 2002, industry will form a foundation to oversee efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. It will perform field projects and be a clearinghouse on best practices.
  6. Building toward credible standards—By 1 July 2005, the industry will develop and implement industry-wide standards of public certification that cocoa has been grown without any of the worst forms of child labor.[13]

A 2001 Joint Statement extended the protocol to also identify and eliminate forced labor (defined according to ILO Convention 29) in the production of cocoa.[15]

The protocol laid out a non-binding agreement for the cocoa industry to regulate itself without any legal implications,[12] but Engel threatened to reintroduce legislation if the deadlines were not met.[16] This agreement was the one of the first times an American industry was subjected to self-regulation and one of the first times self-regulation was used to address an international human rights issue.[12]

  What was the success?  Horrible.  All of the data the SFC uses comes from the reports made by the watchdog contracted by the Department of Labor, Tulane's Payson Center.  They were contracted to provide 4 reports on the progress made.  The one that is important is the 4th and final report. 

Fourth and Final Tulane Report.

Declaration for Joint Action to Support Implementation of the Harkin-Engel Protocol

Framework of Action to Support Implementation of the Harkin-Engel Protocol 

Criteria for Assessing whether New Programming Should Count Toward Industry Commitment

CLCCG Annual Report 2103

Note from SFC director:  The following is the commitment outlined in the Framework but the funding paltry compared to what is needed and what was promised in 2001: Under the Declaration, the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) committed $10 million and International Chocolate and Cocoa Industry committed $7 million, with the possibility of an additional $3 million to further the goals laid out in the Declaration. The Governments of Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana committed to providing sufficient human and financial resources to support these efforts. Since the signing of the Declaration, USDOL and the Industry have both met their original monetary commitment under the Framework.