Europe’s sweet tooth : a proposal on how the EU can implement due diligence to tackle child labour in cocoa supply chains

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Kieran, Bronagh
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Child labour remains widespread across the globe. Incidences in cocoa supply chains first received major international attention at the turn of the millennium. Since then, the cocoa sector launched the Harkin Engel Protocol to expel the practice from supply chains, but the promises made therein have not been fulfilled. The central aim of this thesis is to question how the EU can ensure that EU-based companies carry out effective child labour due diligence on their cocoa supply chains in Côte D’Ivoire and Ghana. Due diligence standards would introduce a duty of care on business enterprise to identify, prevent and respond to child labour in their supply chain. An assessment is made as to whether mandatory child labour due diligence could be introduced through an EU regulation. Alternatively, this thesis considers whether due diligence standards could be effectively introduced through a voluntary multi-stakeholder initiative, facilitated by the EU. Analysis of the advantages and disadvantage of both approaches draws on literature regarding the debate between hard law and soft law; a debate which permeates through the field of business and human rights at large. The novel contribution of this thesis is that it proposes that the EU should take a proactive role in setting standards for child labour due diligence by EU companies. Proposals from the European Parliament regarding child labour in cocoa supply chains, including mandatory labelling and trade measures, have thus far fallen on deaf ears. Contrastingly, mandatory child labour due diligence has not, as of yet, been considered by the EU institutions. Ultimately, this thesis takes it that due diligence obligations are an important tool at the disposal of the EU for addressing the extraterritorial impact of EU-based companies. It argues that child labour due diligence should be implemented through a complimentary combination of hard and soft measures at the EU level. Key words: cocoa, business and human rights, children’s rights, child labour, due diligence
Second semester University: University of Seville
child labour, business, ethics, human rights, children rights, European Union, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire