Date of Award

Spring 5-2020

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security, and Cybersecurity

Advisor/Committee Chair

Dennis McCarty, Ph.D.


Forced labor is a form of human trafficking that affects hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. Products that we enjoy, such as chocolate, are part of industries that are built on the exploitation of people. Forced labor allows traffickers to take advantage of people by not supplying a proper wage or needs for survival. The chocolate industry has had a history of causing economic hardships for those in the supply chain. Farm owners are responsible for costly supplies needed to operate a cocoa farm before farming begins only to gain small profits. Companies leading the chocolate industry do not want to change their ways because their profit margins would be diminished, and the leaders would not receive their pay bonuses. Chocolate is a product that requires tremendous amounts of labor with the cultivation and processing of the cocoa beans before they move up the supply chain. Thus, they pay the minimum to farmers for the hard-earned beans that the laborers harvest. Survivors of forced labor do not leave unscathed, and many endure both psychological and physical effects. Children are forced to work on cocoa farms completing tasks such as climbing cocoa trees with sharp objects to reach the pods, which can leave lasting impacts on their health if a fall takes place. Although some initiatives have been developed to help forced laborers, many of the systems do not address their specific needs or provide them with an opportunity to participate. Governments and chocolate company leaders must work together to address the issues facing the supply chains and trace where the cocoa beans originate to ensure forced labor was not used. Organizations such as Fair Trade USA are supposed to help farmers with the costs of cocoa production, so they do not resort to labor trafficking. More progressive, forceful action is necessary if changes toward the cocoa industry regarding forced labor is to happen soon.