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08 June, 2007 - Published 13:06 GMT
Calls to ensure conflict-free cocoa
International anti-exploitation campaigners, Global Witness, has issued a new report entitled "Hot Chocolate". It asks the United Nations and multinational chocolate companies to introduce changes to make sure profits from chocolate sales no longer provide money for conflict. David Bamford reports:
Wars in Africa need to be paid for and many of the continent's most bitter conflicts take place in areas richest in natural resources. Global Witness says that in the same way that blood diamonds have adversely affected the lives of people in Sierra Leone and Liberia, and oil has fuelled violence in the Niger Delta, so cocoa has done the same in Ivory Coast. This is the world's biggest producer of cocoa -- the main product that goes into making chocolate.
Since 2002, the cocoa region has been split between government and rebel-held regions. According to Global Witness, millions of dollars worth of cocoa revenue have funded both sides in the conflict, with the tacit acceptance of the cocoa companies based in America and Europe.
Global Witness takes the view that the chocolate industry has a responsibility to ensure that the profits it makes from the products it sells are conflict-free. The companies can do this through careful monitoring and auditing. The Ivory Coast's finances, it says, should be more transparent and the UN Security Council should threaten sanctions against those who divert cocoa revenue into West African conflicts.
David Bamford, BBC Africa Editor