Citing their earlier fact-finding trip to the Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire) and Ghana, Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Representative Eliot Engel(D – N.Y.) applauded the progress made by the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) in combating forced child and adult labor practices in cocoa farming.  The authors of the Harkin-Engel Protocol, an agreement that spelled out steps by all the major stakeholders in the cocoa and chocolate industry to address the worst forms of child and forced labor in the supply chain, issued a joint statement detailing the steps taken by the Ivory Coast and Ghana to implement a public certification process in their countries.

“I had a chance to see, first hand, the progress that is being made in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire during a trip in January,” said Senator Harkin. “After that trip and meeting children who have already been affected by our work, I am more dedicated than ever to seeing through the commitments made by the industry and the national government under the Protocol.” 

Engel echoed Harkin’s statement, adding that he was “impressed by the work being done by the ICI. The ICI is not only sensitizing communities about the hazards of child and forced adult labor, but is also working to promote the important role of quality education in childhood development,” Engel said. Both congressmen indicated, however, that the ICI must “now substantially scale up its efforts” to maintain momentum as well as ensure a long-term commitment to reaching its goal.