ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast — West Africa's cocoa industry is still trafficking children and using forced child labor despite nearly a decade of efforts to eliminate the practices, according to an independent audit published by Tulane University.
A US-sponsored solution called the Harkin-Engel Protocol was signed in 2001 by cocoa industry members to identify and eliminate cocoa grown using forced child labor. A child-labor-free certification process was supposed to cover 50 percent of cocoa growing regions in West Africa by 2005 and 100 percent by the end of 2010. But independent auditors at Tulane University's Payson Center for International Development said in a late September report that efforts have not even come close to these targets.
"Hundreds of thousands of children are involved in work on cocoa farms," the report said. Child trafficking for labor also continues virtually unabated as well, it said.