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Respecting human rights

Our approach to human rights

Human rights are fundamental to Shell’s core values of honesty, integrity and respect for people. Respect for human rights is embedded in the Shell General Business Principles and Shell Code of Conduct. Shell is committed to respecting human rights as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Labour Organization's Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. Our approach is informed by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

We work closely with various organisations to improve how we apply the UN guiding principles.

Salient human rights

In 2023, we continued to work on our salient human rights issues (salient human rights are those that are most at risk from our operations). We prioritise four focus areas where respect for human rights is critical to how we operate: at the workplace including labour rights, in supply chains, communities, and security.

Shell employees working in these focus areas need to complete mandatory human rights training. About 1,750 employees had completed the training between its launch in 2021 and the end of 2023, which is 94% of those assigned the training. We encourage all employees to do the course, regardless of their role, to build greater understanding of human rights across Shell.

See the table below for examples of our salient human rights issues in each focus area.

Human rights focus areas

Salient issues

  • At the workplace

    • Health and safety
    • Discrimination
    • Decent living conditions in worker accommodation
    • Access to adequate and readily available channels to voice concerns
  • In supply chains

    • Labour rights in our supply chains, e.g. prevention of forced labour, access to remedy
    • Safe and healthy working conditions
    • Decent living conditions in worker accommodation
  • In communities

    • Social impact management
    • Vulnerable persons/communities
    • Land access, livelihoods and cultural heritage
    • Engagement and access to remedy
  • In security

    • Human rights impact on communities by private security and/or government security forces we rely on
    • Security of employees and contract staff in high-risk environments where we work

For each of these areas, we have systems to identify impacts and to avoid or mitigate them. For example, Shell’s HSSE & SP Control Framework [A] contains requirements that set out how we identify, assess and manage our actual and potential impacts on communities where we operate, including any impact on human rights.

[A] We are transitioning from the HSSE & SP Control Framework to our new Safety, Environment and Asset Management (SEAM) Standards as part of the Shell Performance Framework. The SEAM Standards will come into effect in mid-2024.

Our Shell Supplier Principles state that we expect our contractors and suppliers to respect the human rights of their workforce and to manage the social impacts of their activities on Shell’s neighbouring communities. When procuring solar panels and modules for our projects, for example, we engage extensively with our suppliers to promote transparency and understand human rights risks in our supply chain. (See the Worker Welfare and Indigenous Peoples sections.)

We also continue to track emerging human rights and environmental due diligence legislation, and advance our efforts to strengthen human rights-related controls in our supply chain. (See also A just transition).

Critical habitats and people

We assess the potential impacts of our activities to manage and reduce any adverse effects they may have on the environment and on communities. We apply stringent standards across all our projects, particularly when we operate in critical habitats that are rich in biodiversity and in areas of cultural significance or close to local communities, including Indigenous Peoples. (See the Biodiversity and ecosystems and Indigenous Peoples sections).

Modern slavery

Shell is opposed to all forms of modern slavery. Such exploitation is against our commitment to respect human rights as set out in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. Our approach is informed by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Read more about our approach in our statement under the UK Modern Slavery Act at

Read Shell Australia’s Joint Modern Slavery Statement, prepared under Australia’s Modern Slavery Act 2018, at

Security practices

Our operations expose us to criminality, civil unrest, activism, terrorism, cyber disruption and acts of war. We take steps to have clear and planned responses to security incidents, so that we are able to react quickly and effectively if they occur.

Shell is a member of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPSHR) initiative. This is a multi-stakeholder initiative of governments, extractive sector industries and non-governmental organisations that gives guidance on how to respect human rights, while providing security for business operations. Shell implements this guidance across its companies, concentrating on countries where the risks of working with state and private security forces are identified as greatest.

We carry out annual risk assessments and develop implementation plans to manage the identified risks. As part of these plans, we carry out training and awareness briefings with the security forces that we rely on in our implementation countries. We also screen private security providers on VPSHR and monitor their performance against a range of criteria.

The Chief Human Resources and Corporate Officer, who sits on the Executive Committee, is accountable for security matters.

Read more about our approach to human rights and security at and more about our implementation of the VPSHR at

health, safety, security, environment and social performance
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Safety, Environment and Asset Management
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United Nations
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Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, which guide companies in assessing human rights risks when working with public and private security
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