A new and historic partnership between the global chocolate and cocoa industry, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Senator Tom Harkin and U.S. Representative Eliot Engel and the governments of Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire reaffirms the industry's continued commitment to promoting responsible cocoa farming in Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana. The new "Framework of Action in support of the Harkin-Engel Protocol" launched today in a press conference at the U.S. Department of Labor underlines all parties shared responsibility in achieving a significant reduction of the worst forms of child labor in the cocoa growing areas.

"Improving the lives of children and adults in Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana is a matter of shared responsibility for all those involved, and our industry is fully committed to helping even more cocoa farming families through this innovative partnership," said Larry Graham, President of the National Confectioners Association, on behalf of the global chocolate and cocoa industry.

As part of the new partnership, the global chocolate and cocoa industry has made an immediate pledge to commit $7 million to further the goals of the Harkin-Engel Protocol and the Framework of Action, of which $2 million will support a new public private partnership led by the International Labor Organisation's International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labor (ILO-IPEC), and $5 million includes the expansion of significant current industry work on cocoa which has demonstrated the value of partnerships of this nature. In addition, industry is making a further pledge to explore the possibility of committing an additional $3 million for remediation activities that further these goals.

The Framework of Action places an emphasis on actions that foster safe, healthy, and productive environments for children and families through addressing hazardous labor practices, improving the livelihoods of farming families and access to quality education for children. New and expanded initiatives will build upon the experience gained through the multi-million dollar investments made by industry since 2001 in such programs. Innovative industry-supported programs and projects, such as those implemented by the International Cocoa Initiative and the World Cocoa Foundation, have already positively touched the lives of adults and children in cocoa communities across West Africa.

"Over the last 10 years, we have learned a great deal, while at the same time developing the partnerships and programs essential to making a real difference in cocoa farming communities," said Mr. Graham. "Our industry understands the challenges and complexities involved in improving the lives of cocoa farming families. Only through partnership, shared responsibility and coordinated action can we make a lasting impact on this complex societal and developmental challenge. In the months and years ahead, we look forward to building upon the progress to date, with the goal of helping even more children and their families in cocoa growing communities."