End Child Labor in the Ivory Coast

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Unfortunately, forced child labor and trafficking is very common all over the world. It is most commonly found when poor countries and industries have high demand for their products at a low income level, which forces their employees to work without benefits of payment. In Southern Africa, there is a significant number of children working in the cocoa plantations, mostly in Ghana and the Ivory Coast, to keep up with the world’s demand for the most loved candy in the world‒chocolate. The Food Empowerment Project Organization states, “South African countries supply more than 70% of the world’s cocoa. These farms of South Africa supply cocoa to international chocolate industries such as Hershey’s, Mars, and Nestlé, revealing the industry’s direct connection to the worst forms of child labor, human trafficking, and slavery” (Child Labor and Slavery). These children are mistreated and are not given the same opportunities as American children, such as spending time with family and attending school. Children in Southern Africa are spending more time working in the fields than the American child, who is getting an education. In the article Child Labor and Slavery in the Chocolate Industry, the Food Empowerment Project explains that the children, ages ranging from six to fourteen years old, wake up at six am every morning and are immediately forced to work. Their workday consists of using a chainsaw to clear the forest and climbing the trees with machetes to cut off the cocoa beans from the top (Child Labor and Slavery). The process of forcibly taking children away from their family is inhumane. The United States Government and bystanders who have the means to provide help and awareness need to be more involved with this disastrous crime. Child labor in southern Africa is rapidly increasing, and the United States must increase its advocacy and improve its tactics in order to put a stop to this slavery.

The United States’ government has a moral obligation to terminate the child slavery; dating back to the nineteenth century, the American government has proven that it does not tolerate the production of products derived from child labor in the numerous laws and bans passed. There are actual laws listed in the Child Labor and US History article that prove the United States is fully capable of recognizing the abuse that comes with children forced to work. For instance, In 1938 Federal regulation of child labor achieved the Fair Labor Standards Act. For the first time, minimum ages of employment and hours of work for children are regulated by federal law” (Michael Herring). If the United States’ government implemented these laws to end child labor, so American citizens in this modern time period should advocate for stricter laws on the child labor in Southern Africa. In 1938 before the FLSA act was passed, banning child labor, the children were prohibited to earn an education and many workers started to protest against the child labor. Soon after, the United States heard the protests and made the change, granting children the right to earn an education and not forced to work. The children in Southern Africa must be given equal opportunity for their future; there must be American involvement to demand change for the children's lives. There are also state regulations all over the country that deal with strict labor policies that industries have to abide by. The Georgia Department of Labor puts to effect the following policies in terms of children working: reviews all issued employment certificates to ensure job duties do not appear to be in violation of the law; inspects possible law violations; issues certificates of consent for minors in entertainment; and have community outreach in schools (“Get Information About”). They review all issued employment certificates, commonly called work permits, to ensure job duties do not appear to be in violation of the law and that the form has been properly completed; while also conducting inspections of possible law violations issues certificates of consent for minors in entertainment makes child labor presentations to schools, employers, and other interested parties ("Get Information About"). If this much detail and administration can be put into just one state in America, then the United States government needs to be proactive with implementing the same regulations in places struggling around the world. The mistreatment must stop and the United States must be proactive in their efforts help the children reach the lifestyle that will lead them to a better future just as they did for the United States during the nineteenth century and still do today.

The United States is well aware of Southern Africa’s agricultural industry seeing as the cocoa beans are the resource for the extremely popular Hershey's Chocolate brand. However, there is no policy on the industries’ means for employment or basis of production by the companies in America who are purchasing it. The World Trade Organization (WTO) is lead by officials who organize efficient trade agreements, balance in imports and exports worldwide, and work to evaluate the issue. Michael Herring states in the article International Trade Issues that some U.S trade legislation has included child labor standards for industries to abide by; however, congressional researchers acknowledge that “such a ban will likely violate rules by the WTO because countries affected by child labor ban could challenge the ban as an unfair trade barrier or impose fines on U.S. exports as a penalty for the violation” (Michael Herring). If the WTO works to evaluate a way that would not impose unfair trade to countries that utilize child labor, the United States could negotiate a way to end the child labor in Southern Africa without harming the country's economy. The United States is one of the largest consumers of Southern Africa’s agricultural exports; therefore, the U.S. has a moral obligation to proactively evaluate a solution to the child labor. In the article United States Trade Representative statistics prove that “Southern Africa is currently the United States 39th largest goods trading partner with $13 billion in total (two way) goods trade during 2015. Goods exports totaled $5.5 billion; goods imports totaled $7.3 billion. The U.S. goods trade deficit with South Africa was $1.9 billion in 2015” (South Africa). The trade relationship between these two nations prove that there is a mutual benefit on both sides financially; however, the fact that the products the United States are receiving is derived from slavery outweighs the benefit and must be stopped. With the WTO and other congressional leaders having this clear evidence of unethical and nefarious production of goods, there must be more partisanship on a way they can put child labor to an end without violating trade agreement with Southern Africa’s agriculture industry.

The agriculture industry is a worldwound culture that thousands of industry's utilize for their production of goods and it has been around since the beginning of mankind. While some agricultural industries employ educated farmers who are trained to work in that industry, unfortunately, there are also thousands of industries who struggle with their country’s economy, thus implementing the employment of children. Specifically, in Southern Africa, the work is clearly a human rights violation and must be stopped. As explained in an article by the United Nations Organization called Human Rights Watch,  “Children in Africa work long hours in extreme heat, exposed to nicotine and toxic pesticides that can make them sick” (Child Labor). The United Nations Organization is aware of the effects to the working children, and while they recognize the issue, they are not forcefully working to put an end to this issue in the Ivory Coast of Southern Africa. The United Nations has, in fact, passed multiple laws working to end child labor according to The United States Department of Labor article. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Department's Bureau of International Labor Affair's (ILAB) Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking has been “administering grants to organizations engaged in efforts to eliminate child labor; and working to raise public awareness and understanding of these issues” (Youth & Labor). The ILAB administration is aware of the issue; however, the child labor is increasing and this organization is not taking proactive responsibility of what must be done. The United States must improve its tactics and the motivation must be expanded or the lives of the children working in the Ivory coast and bordering it will remain out of school and in dangerous working conditions.

The United States dominates the world’s nations in aspects such as economy, technology, finance and business; other nations look to U.S. congressional leaders and the government itself for guidance and influence for how they want their country to be run. This being said, if the Unites States’ diplomats were to approach other nation’s leaders at a United Nations meeting about the issue of child labor, there would be more determination to end this issue. A Times magazine article called, "Forget China-the U.S. Is Still the Global Superpower" explains that, in 2013, the U.S. doled out $32.7 billion in financial assistance; second was the UK at $19 billion. Turns out that money buys strong political cooperation from countries in need” (Forget China-the U.S.). The United States has proven herself to be a global leader by aiding foreign countries with a great deal of assistance that no other country has; therefore, it has a strong voice in the changes that can be made globally because of the leverage of financial aid.  The United States government is able to attract other countries and leaders who are capable will be able to agree and make implements to end child labor given this amount of global power. A Forbes magazine article proves this by explaining how the United States is spending 560 billion dollars a year. Its GDP (16 trillion dollars) is more than twice the size of China’s GDP. Its stock market, at an all time high, still reflects American leadership of the global economy (Flows, Capital). If the United States is at such an advantage economically and financially, then the country and government officials should have an assertive voice in deciding what needs to be done and what the UN needs to focus on. The United States diplomats are fully capable of approaching the growing issue of child labor in Southern Africa to other world powers; however, there must be more determination in the advocacy the United Nations are taking to end this as well.

The determination starts from an idea of change and it grows exponentially, depending on the level of power and respect that the individuals have. Thus, the United States can provide the information and ask for equal persistence from other world nations, but true change comes in what the United Nations and other countries are willing to enforce. Awareness and information on the issue of child labor can only provide a level of understanding, and while understanding the problem is vital, the United States must advocate for dedication to completely obliterate the child labor in Southern Africa. In order to gain this commitment there must be a two thirds majority of the general assembly held at an UN meeting. According to SDG Knowledge Hub,“the next general assembly meeting will convene at UN Headquarters on Tuesday, 12 September 2017. The General Debate will open on Tuesday, 19 September 2017” (Hub, IISD's SDG Knowledge). This next meeting is an exceptional opportunity for the United States diplomats to stand up to what needs to be done in Southern Africa, so that the children who are working the fields in the Ivory Coast and Ghana can be provided with equal opportunity of the pursuit of happiness just as the American child.

The line graph below shows the United States, Japan, Germany, and France’s gross domestic product rate 2008-2015 (GDP (current US$). This graphic proves the United States from 2008-2015 has had upper hand in the world’s GDP rate. At the next meeting for the UN, this kind of information could present itself well in terms of convincing other countries to enforce legislation regarding child labor.

The United State’s diplomat can provide other nations with the issue and further inform other nations how the Southern African industries result to child labor to produce chocolate. With the upper hand in financial GPD, as shown below, if other nation leaders choose not to get involved and help the mistreated children, the United States can offer resources to the opposing country in order to gain their approval to support the Southern African industries.  

On the other hand, child labor in struggling countries is hard to avoid due to the extreme poverty rate of the families, as the children are not able to attend school and are forced to work to ensure survival. According to The Borgen Project, “Approximately one in three people living in sub-Saharan Africa are undernourished. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations estimated that 239 million people (around 30 percent of the population) in sub-Saharan Africa were hungry in 2010. This is the highest percentage of any region in the world” (10 Poverty in Africa Facts). This shows Southern Africa’s extremely vulnerable financial state which is why child labor is the cheapest and most accessible way for the industries to keep up with the high demand. The United States must supply financial aid to Southern Africa especially because the U.S. is one of the biggest consumers of the chocolate. According to the article Triple Pundit: People, Planet, Profit, impoverished households who cannot meet their basic needs may depend on the income of their children for survival. In many cases, these families are so poor that every member of their family needs to work (Gasp! The Benefits...). Southern African countries resort to using child labor to create exports that they can then trade and receive imports of goods and services in which they need. However, child labor and slavery only create a poorer country by taking their future generation of labor and skills out of school and forcing them to work and supply for their country. The United States must get more involved and prevent this cycle from continuing. With the help of financial aid and more efficient labor resources supplied by the United States, southern African countries’ economies will improve with efficient industries, and, more importantly, the children will be able to gain an education and begin a better future for themselves and their families.

The United States government and also the American people must indulge in helping the the children living in Southern Africa. Now is the opportunity to change their lives; history has shown that when the people of the United States order for change, change is what they receive. Change is up to each individual person and can only be achieved by determination. With the United States being at such a high level of power, the diplomats that represent the U.S. can advocate with a more effective strategy at the next UN meeting. However, the Government will not advocate for change unless the American people prove that change is what they want. Therefore, each and every individual who is determined to see Southern African children in better hands and following the pursuit of happiness than each individual must stand out and make a difference. Every child in Southern Africa deserves to live a life with equal opportunity as the American child; with the United States government's help, the world’s youth will grow and strengthen and children living in Southern Africa will finally prosper into the individuals they deserve to become.





Works Cited

"10 Poverty in Africa Facts." The Borgen Project. N.p., 16 Apr. 2017. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.

"Child Labor and Slavery in the Chocolate Industry." Child Labor and Slavery in the Chocolate

Industry | Food Empowerment Project. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2017.

"Child Labor." Human Rights Watch. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2017.


Flows, Capital. "Why The U.S. Remains The World's Unchallenged Superpower." Forbes.

Forbes Magazine, 24 Nov. 2013. Web. 21 Mar. 2017.



"Forget China-the U.S. Is Still the Global Superpower." Time. Time, n.d. Web. 21 Mar. 2017.


"Gasp! The Benefits Of Child Labor In The Developing World." Triple Pundit: People, Planet,

Profit. N.p., 09 Apr. 2013. Web. 20 Mar. 2017.


"Get Information About Child Labor." Department of Labor. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2017.


This is the primary source because its an official government decree that the Georgia Department of Labor has put to order; I am using this primary source because it shows that there are specific child labor laws that are implemented in just one state in the United States so it should be the same in the Southern African region as well.

Hub, IISD's SDG Knowledge. "Event: 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 72) |

SDG Knowledge Hub | IISD." SDG Knowledge Hub. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.

Michael Herring. "Child Labor in U.S. History." Child Labor in U.S. History - The Child Labor

Education Project. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2017.


Michael Herring. "International Trade Issues." International Trade Issues - The Child Labor

Education Project. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Mar. 2017.



South Africa | United States Trade Representative. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2017.

"Youth & Labor." United States Department of Labor. N.p., 25 Jan. 2016. Web. 20 Mar. 2017.



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