The IUF and a group of three NGO’s today signed a common statement with a consortium of chocolate and cocoa industry organizations representing all major interests in the global cocoa and chocolate industry, including the major global chocolate manufacturers.

The common statement commits the signatories to a long-term joint effort to address the worse forms of child labour in the sector. The common statement also recognizes that child labour does not occur in isolation and recognizes the need for action by appropriate parties to improve overall labour standards and access to education.

IUF General Secretary Ron Oswald called the common statement a significant step forward. “Those who have engaged in this collaborative effort have done so recognising that none can effectively contribute to the resolution of this difficult social issue without recognition of the important role to be played by the other signatories. In particular the recognition by the world’s chocolate and cocoa industry of the need to work with trade unions in the industry, represented through the IUF, will considerably raise the chances that this initiative will succeed.”

The common statement signed on Friday November 30, 2001 was witnessed by the International Labour Organisation, the ILO, an organisation of the UN that will play a major role in the processes that will flow from this initiative.

The initiative and the practical activities will be developed around a joint Foundation to be established in mid-2002 and will focus initially on West Africa.

For more information please contact [email protected] or [email protected] at the IUF.

The text of the Common Statement is reproduced below.

COMMON STATEMENT
November 30, 2001

CAOBISCO, the Chocolate Manufacturers Association, the Chocolate Manufacturers Association of Canada, the Cocoa Association of London, the Cocoa Merchants Association of America, the European Cocoa Association, the International Cocoa Organization, the IOCCC, the World Cocoa Foundation, the Child Labor Coalition, Free The Slaves, the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers Associations, and the National Consumers League (sometimes hereinafter the “Signatories”) recognize the urgent need to identify and eliminate child labour in violation of International Labour Organization (“ILO”) Convention 182 with respect to the growing and processing of cocoa beans and their derivative products.

The Signatories also recognize the need to identify and eliminate practices in violation of ILO Convention 29 with equal urgency.

The Signatories affirm their support for the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) mission to improve working conditions worldwide, as exemplified in the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. We also share the view that practices in violation of ILO Conventions 182 (the “worst forms of child labour”) and 29 (“forced labour”) result from poverty and a complex set of social and economic conditions often faced by small family farmers and agricultural workers, and that effective solutions to address these violations must include action by appropriate parties to improve overall labour standards and access to education.

The Signatories support the framework provided in the Protocol signed by the Chocolate Manufacturers Association and the World Cocoa Foundation on September 19, 2001, which provides for cooperation and for credible, effective problem solving in West Africa, where a specific program of research, information exchange, and action is immediately warranted.

This Joint Statement expresses the shared commitment of the Signatories to work collaboratively toward the goal of eliminating the worst forms of child labour and forced labour in cocoa growing.

The strategies developed as part of this process will only be credible to the public and meet the expectations of consumers if there is committed engagement on the part of governments, global industry (comprised of major manufacturers of cocoa and chocolate products as well as other, major cocoa users), cocoa producers, labour representatives, non-governmental organizations, and consumers that have joined this process.

The Signatories recognize the need to work in concert with the ILO because the ILO will play an important role in identifying positive strategies, including developmental alternatives for children engaged in the worst forms of child labour and adults engaged in forced labour in the growing and processing of cocoa beans and their derivative products.

The strategies to be developed will be effective only if they are comprehensive and part of a durable initiative. The steps to be taken to sustain this initiative include:

(i) execution of a binding memorandum of cooperation among the Signatories that establishes a joint action program of research, information exchange, and action to enforce the internationally-recognized and mutually-agreed upon standards to eliminate the worst forms of child labour in the growing and processing of cocoa beans and their derivative products

(ii) incorporation of this research that will include efforts to determine the most appropriate and practicable independent means of monitoring and public reporting in compliance with those standards;

(iii) establishment of a joint foundation to oversee and sustain efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labour and forced labour in the growing and processing of cocoa beans and their derivative products. The Signatories welcome industry’s commitment to provide initial and ongoing, primary financial support for the foundation.

We anticipate that other parties may be able to play a positive role in our important work. Subject to mutual consent by the Signatories, additional parties may be invited to sign onto this statement in the future.

Signed by:

CAOBISCO
CHOCOLATE MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION (USA)
CHOCOLATE MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION OF CANADA
COCOA ASSOCIATION OF LONDON
COCOA MERCHANTS ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA
EUROPEAN COCOA ASSOCIATION
INTERNATIONAL COCOA ORGANIZATION
IOCCC
WORLD COCOA FOUNDATION
CHILD LABOR COALITION
FREE THE SLAVES
INTERNATIONAL UNION OF FOOD, AGRICULTURAL, HOTEL, RESTAURANT, CATERING, TOBACCO AND ALLIED WORKERS ASSOCIATIONS (IUF)
NATIONAL CONSUMERS LEAGUE (USA)

Witnessed by the International Labour Organization this 30th day of November, 2001.
Geneva, Switzerland

Published: 30/11/2001