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Human rights

The Shell General Business Principles require our employees and contractors to respect the human rights of fellow workers and communities where we operate. We focus on four areas across Shell’s activities where respect for human rights is especially critical to the way we operate: communities, labour, supply chains and security.

Shell has long been involved with developments in business and human rights. While it is the duty of governments to protect human rights, Shell recognises the responsibility of companies to respect them, in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. We also work with other companies, non-governmental organisations and other bodies to improve the way we apply these principles. For example, we are working with the Danish Institute for Human Rights to help shape our approach (see opinion below).

In 2012, we continued our community feedback pilot projects, based on the UN Guiding Principles, in four countries. What we learn from these pilots will guide our efforts to put new community feedback mechanisms in place, or improve our existing programmes, at our major projects and facilities in the future. We also help promote a common approach to human rights across the oil and gas industry through IPIECA, the industry association for social and environmental issues, as co-chair of its working group on community feedback mechanisms.

We have requirements to keep employees, contractors and facilities safe, while respecting the human rights and security of local communities. Since their development in 2000, we have actively implemented the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPSHR), which guide companies in assessing risks when working with public and private security. We train our security staff and contractors in the VPSHR, and we incorporate the principles in our security contracts.


Allan Lerberg Jorgensen, Department Director, Danish Institute for Human Rights, Copenhagen, Denmark (photo)

We work with Shell to implement respect for human rights across four areas: community impacts, employee relations, procurement and security. Shell has had a public commitment to respect human rights since 1997. However, implementation has not been consistent across the company and therefore progress has been uneven. We hope that our knowledge can help Shell improve its approach to human rights, and inspire the same change among its peers. The human rights challenges faced by the oil and gas industry require joined-up thinking and joined-up action. We are pleased by Shell’s active role in the human rights task force of IPIECA, and we encourage Shell and its peers to address the industry’s human rights impacts in relation to climate change and natural resource management.”

Allan Lerberg Jorgensen
Department Director, Danish Institute for Human Rights, Copenhagen, Denmark