The U.S Department of labor released its 2009 list of goods made with child and/or forced labor. As readers of this blog will suspect, cocoa is on the list. Five West African countries, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea and Nigeria are listed as exporters of cocoa produced with child labor. In addition, the list singles out the Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria as countries where cocoa is produced using forced labor (see p. 22 of the report).
The report was required by the 2008 William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. The Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) produced this report by reviewing available information in the use of child and forced labor in 77 countries. It relied on information “originating from its own research, other U.S. Government agencies, foreign governments, international organizations, NGOs, U.S. Governmentfunded technical assistance and field research projects, academic research, independent research, media, and others.” The data used are no older than ten years.
The list includes 122 goods and is truly depressing. It includes agricultural, mining and manufactured products. Cotton and sugar cane top the list in agriculture, bricks in manufacturing and gold in mining. It is testament to the pernicious effects of a globalized market that rewards lowest cost production while driving millions of people into lives of bondage.
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