AMHERST, MA - Verité, the US-based nonprofit that works to promote just and humane working conditions worldwide, announced today an important milestone in the creation of an independent, transparent and credible process to build public confidence that labor conditions in cocoa production meet international standards. Verité announced the five specialists who have been named to serve as non-governmental (NGO) representatives on the Cocoa Verification Board. The Verification Board is an independent body which is mandated to create and implement the process by which government surveys of labor in cocoa production are validated. The Board will select, train and hire individual, independent verifiers who will analyze critique and report on the robustness of the national surveys undertaken by the governments of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. This ground-breaking effort to identify and remediate the worst forms of child labor and forced adult labor in the cocoa sector is without parallel in agriculture.
"We believe that broad consultation and openness are the best way to ensure public confidence that labor conditions in cocoa production are being monitored and remediated effectively," said Dan Viederman, Executive Director of Verité. "We feel fortunate to have been able to bring together a diverse, multi-stakeholder body that endorsed an open and collaborative process," Viederman continued.
In recruiting members for the Verification Board Verité consulted with over 250 people in 17 countries from NGOs, trade unions, universities and the United Nations. The multi-stakeholder board structure outlined by Verité is central to ensuring that a wide array of viewpoints is heard. Members of the Verification Board are from government, academia, industry and civil society, whose collective expertise covers social science and statistical research, child-centered research methodologies, labor rights, trafficking, agriculture (with particular focus on cocoa farming), gender studies, collective bargaining and development economics.
Verité recognizes the importance of transparency to all stakeholders, including consumers. All materials relating to Verité's work and that of the Verification Board will be readily available to all interested parties and a website will be created to ensure that information is easily accessible and widely available.
NGO representatives of the Verification Board, announced today, are:
Dr. Stephen Ayidiya, University of Ghana, Legon
Alice Koiho Kipre, Afrique Secours et Assistance, Cote d'Ivoire
Andrews Addoquaye Tagoe, General Agricultural Workers' Union
Diane Mull, International Initiative on Exploitive Child Labor
John Trew, CARE International
Government and industry representatives on the nine-member Verification Board have already been announced.
Government members are:
Tony Fofie, Ghana Cocoa Board
Amouan Assouan Acquah, Special Counselor to the Prime Minister, Côte d'Ivoire
Industry members are:
Jeff Morgan, Mars, Inc.
Isabelle Adam, European Cocoa Association
Read biographies for all nine members of the Verification Board below.
Verité is a US-based nonprofit and award-winning pioneer in the social auditing, training, research and consulting field. The organization has over a decade of experience working with Fortune 500 corporations and their local suppliers through our global network of NGO partners. Verité works in over 60 countries to empower companies, factories, NGOs, governments, and workers to create sustainable workplace practices in the factories and communities where our consumer goods are made. Verité was named winner of the 2007 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship. For more information on Verité please visit http://www.verite.org.
Verification Board Biographies:
Dr. Stephen Ayidiya is a lecturer and researcher of social work. His work over the past seven years focuses on the elimination of child labor. Dr. Ayidiya's UNICEF sponsored study of children in cocoa farms in Ghana makes him an important contributor to the verification board.
Alice Koiho – Kipre has been the General Secretary of the NGO Afrique Secours et Assistance (A.S.A) in Côte d'Ivoire since 1998. In this capacity she is responsible for all urgent interventions on behalf of trafficked children. Over the years she has worked closely with UN Agencies (UNHCR, ILO, WHO, UNICEF, etc.) as well as other humanitarian NGOs across Africa (Rwanda, Burundi, Mali and the Democratic Republic of the Congo). Her previous work also included assisting refugees and their children. Alice is a member of the National Committee on Child Exploitation and Trafficking, among many others.
Mr. Andrews Addoquaye's has technical expertise in plant engineering and agriculture together with education and extensive experience in globalization and labor rights and OSHA. His curriculum vitae marries highly specialized fields in a focused career that has invaluable relevance to dealing with the issues at hand.
Diane Mull is the Executive Director of the International Initiative on Exploitive Child Labor (IIECL). She is very well published in her work on agriculture, farming and vocational education. Ms. Mull is also an international consultant many Africa focused organizations, including World Vision and World Cocoa Foundation.
John Trew is a child labor expert. His work has focused on human rights and labor legislation. He has done extensive research and analysis on child and women worker engagement in the Philippines. Trew is currently a Senior Technical Advisor, Child Labor & Education for CARE USA.
Tony Fofie is the Deputy Chief Executive for the Ghana Cocoa Board. He is in charge of Agronomy and Quality Control (A&QC). Has 34years experience in the cocoa sector.
Assouan Amouan Acquah is the Special Counsellor to the Prime Minister of Côte d'Ivoire. She is also the Executive Secretary of the Child Labor Monitoring System (CLMS) for cocoa certification, and officially appointed as the focal point for cocoa child labor certification in Côte d'Ivoire. Mrs. Acquah is an Agronomist with over 25 years of experience. She had extensive experience in dealing with agricultural products at the National Agriculture Development Bank and the Cocoa Board in Côte d'Ivoire. Mrs. Acquah received her M.S. in Agricultural Economics at the STORRS University of Connecticut.
Jeff Morgan is the Director of Global Programs for Mars. He has worked in the Food and Agriculture industry for more than 31 years. He received his Bachelors Degree in Chemistry from Miami of Ohio and his Masters in Food Systems from The Ohio State University. Mr. Morgan has been engaged in finding ways to improve cocoa farming practices since well before the question of farm working conditions became a priority issue in 2001. Following the signing of the Harkin-Engel protocol in 2001 Jeff has focused much of his efforts on its successful implementation. He serves on the Global Industry Group as the coordinator for certification
Isabelle Adam is General Secretary for the European Cocoa Association (ECA), based in Brussels. She has worked with a variety of non-profit and trade organizations as a communications specialist. Ms. Adam has extensive experience in the nonprofit sector and co-founded an organization that develops marketing and communications strategies for nonprofits. For the verification board she is representing the European cocoa industry.