In the 21st century we have millions of people living with the constant uncertainty of waking up tomorrow. They are not dying of old age - their life has just begun, they are not living with cancer – their life expectancy is much shorter, but they are amongst the 27 million men, women and children involved in the impoverished slave trade. As an ambassador for anti-slavery, I Emma Smith, do not need to argue the wrongfulness of slavery for, as stated by Fredrick Douglass in 1852, “there is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven who does not know that slavery is wrong”. On numerous occasions I have witnessed the horror firsthand. I have watched as the statistics continue to exponentially increase. And I have inevitably visited the graves of those who have payed the ultimate price. It is for this reason that I demand change for the better, change for the future and change for the victims who’s pleads go unheard. How in the day of modern technology, can we as a society, have allowed the continuation of these horrific acts of slavery to progress from centuries ago? As you should know, the International Labour Organisation formally defined forced labour, or slavery, at the forced labour convention in 1930. This definition is still relevant today and dictates that forced labour is considered “all work or service which is exacted from any person under the threat of a penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself or herself voluntarily.” However, for far too long violations against your human rights doctrine have occurred and consequently, these discrepancies in the system are having detrimental effects. Of the population of slaves in the world today a large percentage is comprised of young innocent children. Can you imagine your child being ripped away from your arms and disposed of to the highest bidder, like sheep in the market? It might sound cruel, it might sound carless, it might sound corrupt but this is the reality for many defined by their cultural attitude and lack of political interference in the cocoa industry. “While the term slavery has a variety of historical contexts, slavery in the cocoa industry involves the same core human rights violations as other forms of slavery throughout the world” and consumers are oblivious. In developed countries we acknowledge that chocolate symbolises happiness, gratification and luxury but for those children enslaved on the Ivory Coast, yet to taste a morsel of chocolate, its symbolism is quite the opposite. At present, 900 million kilograms of chocolate is consumed each year of which 40 percent is believed to have been contaminated with slavery. A young boy named Amadou was lucky enough to have escaped the exploitation in Africa and pronounces that “when people eat chocolate, they eat my flesh.” Child slavery is the secret ingredient in chocolate however this must stop, this must cease and the inexcusable statistics have to come to an end. The cocoa industry has benefited from the use of forced labour since the early 19th century. However, a re-examination of past preventative measures along with a coherent framework for future success will enable a productive start to ceasing all child slavery. You, as the United Nations, have the potential to intervene as violations of your doctrines have occurred for centuries. So why has nothing yet been established? My organisation and a collaboration of others plead for intervention. We demand a review of the existing conventions on slavery and demand recommendations on how to unify and clarify these legislations. Furthermore we ask of you to force political involvement in affected countries and with this include resources and funds to ensure that the industry is no longer commercially viable. Finally, the extremity of this situation should involve the disallowing of imports and exports of cocoa which have been tampered by this horrific slavery. In order to cease the production of money through the blood, sweat and tears of all those suffering in bondage, labour camps and disease-ridden chains, the commitment of the United Nations has become imperative. The slavery industry is growing however, this is one industry which must not benefit from growth. You have heard the statistics and you have heard the facts but now is the time for change. No longer can countries, such as Africa, continue to economically exploit the vulnerable and companies must not resort to the use of child slave labour in order to keep prices competitive. I have called for change and I can now only hope that this will be achieved. Thank you for your time and I plead that the next time you take a bite from your favourite chocolate bar do not think of the taste nor the calories but think of the lives that have been lost to produce the product held in your own hands. Bibliography:
Anti-Slavery. 2014. Act Now to End Child Slavery in the Chocolate Industry. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.antislavery.org/english/campaigns/cocoa_traders/default.aspx. [Accessed 21 April 14]. Compassion. 2014. Child Labour Facts. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.compassion.com/child-advocacy/find-your-voice/quick-facts/child-labor-quick-facts.htm . [Accessed 25 April 14]. Food Empowerment Project. 2014. Slavery in the Chocolate Industry. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.foodispower.org/slavery-chocolate/. [Accessed 26 April 14]. Free the Slaves. 2014. Ending Slavery - The plan. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.freetheslaves.net/sslpage.aspx?pid=328#8. [Accessed 26 April 14]. International Labour Organisation. 2014. Child Labour. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.ilo.org/global/topics/child-labour/lang--en/index.htm#a1. [Accessed 25 April 14]. Karlee Sapoznik. 2010. Slavery and the Dark Side of Chocolate. [ONLINE] Available at: http://activehistory.ca/2010/06/%E2%80%9Cwhen-people-eat-chocolate-they-are-eating-my-flesh%E2%80%9D-slavery-and-the-dark-side-of-chocolate/. [Accessed 27 April 14]. United Nations. 2014. Universal Declaration of Human Rights. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.un.org/en/aboutun/copyright/. [Accessed 24 April 14]. Wiki Answers. 2014. How much chocolate is consumed per year?. [ONLINE] Available at: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_much_chocolate_is_consumed_per_year?#slide=2. [Accessed 25 April 14]. The History Place. 2014. Great Speeches Collection. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.historyplace.com/speeches/douglass.htm. [Accessed 01 May 14].