Europe, particularly the European Union, is one of the biggest consumers of products made from cocoa, coffee and tea. In order to alleviate the suffering of workers and farmers, as well as children working on the plantations, several certification organisations and charities have been founded with the promise that farmers, workers and their families can receive a better income and exit the spiral of poverty and quasi-slavery, as well as reduce the ecological strain the planting of these monocultures poses to the environment. European citizens are more and more aware of their consumption habits and try to buy FairTrade products to reduce their share on global misery and suffering. Between 2002 and 2006, around 30% of FairTrade coffee worldwide was consumed in the European Union alone. Unfortunately these initiatives have not delivered.
In a recently published report by Genevieve LeBaron from The University of Sheffield (2018), as well as in a study by the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at Tulane University (2015), it has been shown that global certification initiatives like FairTrade, Rainforest Alliance or UTZ usually have the opposite effect than they intended. Rather than reducing the amount of suffering in these sectors, they contribute to the continuation of the precarious situation of farmers, workers and especially children. This was also highlighted by a hearing of the Subcommittee on Human Rights of the European Parliament on 11 July 2018 and the parliamentary question to the European Commission of 9 July 2018 (E-003733-18).
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe should investigate the workings and effectiveness of certification institutions and organisations and make recommendations to end the suffering and forced labour of children in these sectors.