Last month, the United States Supreme Court reversed a lower-court ruling that had allowed a group of six men from Mali to sue Nestlé and Cargill under the Alient Tort Statute.
Their claim in the lawsuit was that they had been trafficked as child slaves to cacao farms in the Ivory Coast - farms which provided cacao to Nestlé and Cargill.
Unfortunately, the Supreme Court ruled that the men should not have been able to sue because the offense did not occur in the United States. The companies' representation argued that Nestlé and Cargill are corporations, not individuals, and thus these corporations can't be held responsible.
Nestlé and Cargill supply chocolate to other mega-corporations like Hershey and Mars. They purchase their chocolate from regions that have well documented slave labor; an estimated 1.5 MILLION children are working the farms in the Ivory Coast. The very same country where Nestlé and Cargill are purchasing their cacao.
As a fair trade chocolatier, River-Sea Chocolates, explained "[Nestlé and Cargill] fund the farms, providing both technical and financial resources in exchange for exclusive rights to their crops. They could use their leverage as buyers to refuse beans from farms that use child labor. If the companies were serious about wanting to eliminate slave labor in their supply chain, then they could pay more for their cacao."
Individuals make decisions for corporations, so it is frustrating that these same corporations are not held accountable for their actions. And while both Nestlé and Cargill claim to be against child labor, their actions do not support those claims.
While the outcome is disappointing, it's a reminder of the importance of fair trade and how choosing fair trade chocolate makes a huge difference for farmers.
How can you help? As an individual, you have the power of purchase. Be sure to only purchase fair trade chocolate.
Fair trade chocolate companies, like River-Sea and Divine, back up their claims with action. They pay their farmers fair, living wages. They empower their workers with opportunities to develop their skills and expand their business, providing farmers ownership in the process. And they do not purchase cacao from farms which use child labor.
If you want to read more about the case, here are a few helpful articles:
- Nestle and Cargill win child slavery case at Supreme Court
- Nestlé USA, Inc. v. Doe I
- Supreme Court Rejects Human Rights Lawsuit Against U.S. Corporations, But Leaves Door Open For Future Claim
(NOT AVAILABLE ONLINE DURING SUMMER MONTHS)
We don't sell our chocolates online during summer months as high temperatures prohibit shipping, but we do carry fair trade chocolate in store! Come visit us to see our selection.