On Monday, Nestlé, along with multinational companies Cargill and Archer-Daniels-Midland, had their appeal dismissed by the US Supreme Court. They challenged the ruling that they had used child slave labour in Ivory Coast to harvest cocoa. This upheld the December 2014 verdict, which rejected all three appeals. This is significant since it has recently become increasingly difficult to sue corporations in US courts for alleged human rights violations which have occurred overseas. The Malian plaintiffs, victims of child slavery, claim the companies knowingly contributed to human rights violations by purchasing cocoa at the cheapest price from Ivory Coast, whilst knowing of child slavery in the region. It is alleged that they supplied technical and financial support to local farmers to guarantee low cocoa prices. The number of child labourers working in cocoa production in Ghana and Ivory Coast has reportedly increased to 2.12 million.
Nestlé’s publicised pledges to deal with child slavery in Ivory Coast are well documented, despite being criticised as ‘unfruitful’. They signed an international agreement to end child labour in 2001 and involved the ‘Fair Labor Association’ in order to monitor its Ivory Coast supply chains in 2011. Nestlé have stated, “We look forward to those proceedings in the lower courts, and believe very strongly that the law and facts are on our side”.