Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Child labour: US launches initiative to combat child labor in cocoa-growing regions of Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire

Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis today announced a $10 million grant to fund a new Framework of Action to eliminate the worst forms of child labor in the cocoa industry in Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire. Together the two countries supply more than half of the world's cocoa. Labor Minister E.T. Mensah of Ghana, Labor Minister Emile Guirieoulou of Cote d'Ivoire, and representatives of the international chocolate and cocoa industry joined Secretary Solis in making renewed commitments of resources to address the problem.

Secretary Solis thanked Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa and Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, architects of a 2001 agreement with the cocoa industry to eliminate the worst forms of child labor in that industry, known as the Harkin-Engel Protocol. She applauded their tireless advocacy and leadership to help children around the world. Since 1995, Congress has appropriated approximately $780 million to the U.S. Department of Labor to support efforts to combat exploitive child labor around the world, resulting in the rescue of approximately 1.4 million children from the worst forms of child labor. The Harkin-Engel Protocol represents a commitment by the industry to grow and process cocoa beans and derivative products in compliance with International Labor Organization Convention 182.

"Child labor perpetuates a cycle of poverty that prevents families and nations from reaching their full potential," said Secretary Solis. "This new Framework of Action will focus on tackling household poverty so parents do not have to rely on their children's labor." The initiative will rescue children from the worst forms of child labor, give them access to the education and other services they need, and work to improve the livelihoods of cocoa-growing families and their communities.

The governments of Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire committed resources, personnel and policy support for the initiative, which emphasizes joint planning and coordination of efforts on the ground to achieve maximum impact. The international chocolate and cocoa industry pledged $7 million to the new Framework of Action, and Secretary Solis encouraged industry representatives to redouble efforts to match the full $10 million in new funding that is being provided by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The department will work through the International Labor Organization's International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor to help the countries build community-based monitoring systems to uncover the worst forms of child labor, determine the causes and provide remedies. Following the announcement, the group met to refine strategies and plans to implement the new framework.

More information about the department's Bureau of International Labor Affairs and its programs is available at http://www.dol.gov/ilab.

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SOURCE U.S. Department of Labor