There is indeed need to examine why the cocoa farms in Ivory Coast get away with the exploitation of child laborers. One compelling reason that facilitates such an occurrence is the poor legal and ethical framework in Ivory Coast, and this sadly, is the case within the larger African nations. The governments and relevant stakeholders are either unwilling or unable to tackle the child labor menace. Incidentally, research carried out within the cocoa farms in Ivory Coast indicates that the children not only work in squalid conditions that disregard international labor policies and laws, but that they are also the subject of forced migrations usually from far off places in Ivory Coast and neighboring Burkina Faso, Mali and Togo. This occurrence can only be rivaled by slave labor, with the former having been reduced to history. The question thus is whether child laborers in cocoa farms are the modern day manifestation of slavery?
However, what hurts more is the fact that consumer nations of these products have the information but out of economic convenience remain largely silent. These nations continue to retain bragging rights of being the defenders of human rights in addition to being progressive in nature. This begs the question, why the lip service on the exploitation of laborers? Is it not a sanction by consuming such products? In that vein, this paper proposes that consumers of cocoa especially in the developed nations need to take action. The reluctance must not be out of the fact that the laborers are in far off developing nations. Far from it, this should serve as the imperative. For instance, consumers in the United States of America, in the spirit of the American exceptional character, must boycott the products if credible evidence is adduced to the extent that exploited child laborers were indeed involved in one way or another in the production of the cocoa. In addition, human rights activists must assume an internationalist philosophy which assumes a long sighted approach and goes beyond convenient national boundaries.
As the consumers, the citizens remain the best body that can sanction or reject this unacceptable practice. Silence, as is the case currently, can only be read to mean sanction. If that be the case, then citizens of developed nations remain the biggest hypocrites. It is this hypocrisy that the citizenry should be keen to evade. In the context of ethical awareness, it remains essential for consumers to ask the question, is your chocolate the result of unfair exploitation of child labor?
Sackett, M. (2008). Forced Child Labor and Cocoa Production in West Africa. Topical Research Digest: Human Rights and Contemporary Slavery, 84-99. Retrieved from http://www.du.edu/korbel/hrhw/researchdigest/slavery/africa.pdf
Signh , S. (2012). International Business and Child Labor: Insights from the African Cocoa Industry. Insight, 2028. Retrieved from http://www.bimtech.ac.in/file/African_Cocoa_Industry.pdf