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The BBC’s 2010 Panorama documentary, Chocolate — The Bitter Truth, contains stunning and disturbing evidence that the worst forms of child labor are still widespread in Ghana and Ivory Coast. Most chilling is the pervasiveness of children who are missing from their homes in Burkina Faso, because they have been trafficked into the cocoa fields.

The film also documents the success of the Fair Trade system in identifying and resolving cases of abusive child labor in the cocoa industry.

In the sourcing of cocoa, there are several basic characteristics that all must be fulfilled in order to eliminate abusive child labor from the cocoa supply chain. Some of the foremost examples are:

  1. Paying farmers a high enough price for their cocoa that (a) the price covers that full costs of production (including adult hired labor) and (b) farmers can afford their families’ basic human needs, including food, shelter, health care, and education for their children
  2. An inspection and enforcement system that identifies and remedies cases of illegal child labor, including (1) assistance to affected children, such as the provision of educational opportunities for children who have been working and family reunification for trafficked children, and (2) consequences for farmers using child labor
  3. Traceability of cocoa to the farm level, so that farmers who use child labor, and the chocolate companies that source their cocoa from child labor farms, can be identified and held accountable

Systems to address abusive child labor will fail without all three of these characteristics.

Global Exchange sees the Fair Trade system as the best answer to abusive child labor because its certification infrastructure includes all three of these characteristics, unlike other institutions in the cocoa trade.

The video can be viewed here.