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Nestlé: Child labour on cocoa plantations – Appeal rejected

Over the past few years there have been numerous reports related to child labour on cocoa plantations in the Ivory Coast1. Nestlé too sources its cocoa from plantations in the country. Recently, there have been new developments in reference to the Swiss company and its cocoa production.

The US Supreme Court has rejected the appeal by Nestlé to throw the case out, and has allowed litigation to move forward which will address Nestlé´s responsibility for child labour on their supplier plantations2.

The plaintiffs from Mali argue that Nestlé (also Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland) promoted and encouraged violations of human rights by purchasing cocoa from said plantations in the Ivory Coast. Companies like Nestlé were allegedly aware of problems such as child labour, but still cooperated with farmers on site.

Originally the lawsuit was filed in 2005 and rejected in 2010 with the reasoning that it could not be brought under the Alien Tort Claim Act. This in turn, was reversed by an appellate tribunal and the plaintiffs were able to refile the lawsuit. The suit can now be brought against Nestlé due to the universal prohibition against slavery3.

The admission of the hearing is a good first step and a further hope for the plaintiffs, because after the decision by the US- court on the Kionbel vs. Shell case (2013) it became significantly more difficult to sue multinational companies for violations in sovereign states. However, in the case of Nestlé et al. the US-board of trade urged for a hearing by the Supreme Court.

It remains to be seen how the legal case plays out.


  1. e.g. FacingFinance, http://www.facing-finance.org/de/database/cases/nestle-ongoing-child-labour-in-ivory-coasts-cocoa-plantations/ or http://www.facing-finance.org/de/2012/06/nestle-accused-of-persistent-child-labour-on-its-cocoa-farmsnestle-anhaltende-verstoesse-gegen-kinderrechte-auf-kakaoplantagen/ 29.06.2012, accessed on 14.01.2016 []
  2. independent.co.uk: Nestlé is being sued by allegedly using child slaves on cocoa farms, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/nestle-is-being-sued-for-allegedly-using-child-slaves-on-cocoa-farms-a6806646.html, 11.01.2016, accessed on 13.01.2016 []
  3. Business and Human Rights: Nestlé, Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland lawsuit (re Côte d’Ivoire), http://business-humanrights.org/en/nestl%C3%A9-cargill-archer-daniels-midland-lawsuit-re-c%C3%B4te-divoire , accessed on 14.01.2016 []