Human rights

We are committed to conducting our business in a manner that respects the rights and dignity of all people

We respect internationally recognized human rights as set out in the International Bill of Human Rights and the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. We set out our commitments in our human rights policy. Our code of conduct references the policy, requiring employees to report any human rights abuse in our operations or in those of our business partners. And, our operating management system includes guidance on human rights-related topics for our projects.

Potential impact areas

When planning for projects, we consider human rights issues such as security, labour rights and workforce welfare, community health and safety, water use, air quality and potential impacts on the livelihoods of local communities. This helps us to manage activities that could impact the rights of nearby communities and our workforces.

Potential human rights impact areas within the oil and gas industry

Implementing the UN Guiding Principles

We are delivering our human rights policy by implementing the relevant sections of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and incorporating them into the processes and policies that govern our business activities. 

We are progressing towards alignment with the UN Guiding Principles using a risk-based approach. This includes working across functions and businesses to continuously improve in areas such as identifying and addressing human rights risks and impacts, community and workforce grievance mechanisms, and contracted workforce working and living conditions and recruitment processes.

We worked with industry association IPIECA in 2015 on implementing the UN Guiding Principles in our business relationships, particularly with major contractors. We also began to incorporate IPIECA’s community complaints management guidance into our business processes.

Increasing awareness

We are working to build employee awareness of both our human rights policy and the potential human rights impacts within our industry. We developed web-based training in 2015, including online guidance and tools, and delivered a new course to help employees train their own teams and functions. We also provide training on specific human rights topics, including integrating human rights into impact assessments. In 2015 we held 31 human rights training events for more than 500 employees.

Supply chain

We work with thousands of different companies across our supply chain, and how we work with suppliers may impact human rights issues such as labour rights and workforce welfare.

Our human rights policy makes a number of commitments that relate to the supply chain. For example, we seek to make contractual commitments with suppliers that encourage them to adhere to the principles contained in our policy. The standard model contracts used by our upstream, downstream, shipping and biofuels businesses now include requirements for our suppliers to respect internationally recognized human rights in their work for BP. We have developed similar human rights clauses for other parts of BP, such as information technology, human resources, facilities management and travel. We include these requirements as we renew or enter into new contracts.

We integrated human rights issues into our shipping supplier forums for the first time in 2015. More than 65 suppliers attended the forums, where we discussed issues such as the responsibility to respect human rights in business, the importance of human rights for the shipping industry and how BP incorporates human rights into our code of conduct.

In addition to regular supplier audits, our biofuels business in Brazil uses a tool to help mitigate potential human trafficking and forced labour issues. The business can now access contractor employee documentation to verify that contractors are respecting the rights of their employees and complying with applicable labour laws. The tool also supplements regular audits by providing access to contractor policies governing human rights issues.

Based on work with our industry peers, our downstream business is piloting a new approach for assessing companies against human rights criteria that aims for greater interaction and transparency between auditors, suppliers and their workforce.

Q: Can you talk us through steps you are taking to implement BP’s human rights policy?

A: To help us more efficiently identify, address and report on human rights risks in the supply chain, we are working across our procurement teams to standardize and enhance a set of tools that can be used by all of our businesses. 

A particular achievement in 2015 is that we now have human rights clauses in the contract templates used by our main procurement groups. We’re working with our suppliers to embed this in new or revised contracts. Additionally, drawing on our work with industry peers, we developed a standard set of questions that can be used to help screen potential and current suppliers in a consistent way anywhere around the world. We’re also reviewing new and emerging legislation and requirements, such as the 2015 UK Modern Slavery Act. 

We have a broad global supply base and simplifying how we work will help us to improve our management of human rights risks in the supply chain. I feel the progress we’ve made this year will provide a strong foundation to build on over the next few years.

Jill Douglas, global sustainability specialist, upstream procurement and supply chain management, BP

Security and human rights

Security management can be complex, especially in locations where there is a higher potential for conflict or violent crime. A company’s security arrangements, if not managed carefully, may expose it to accusations of complicity in human rights abuses. We seek to engage with the security forces that protect our assets to help them understand the human rights of our workforce and communities living near our operations and to interact responsibly with them.

Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights

We are a signatory to the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, which provide a framework for companies to assess whether human rights issues are likely to arise as a result of security activities within local operations, and to allow appropriate precautionary steps to be taken. Since 2014, BP has held a position on the corporate pillar steering committee, which provides oversight and direction for initiatives based on the Principles.

We work with governments, other companies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), whether or not they participate in the Voluntary Principles, to share and promote best practice. For example, we are working with an NGO in the Netherlands to develop best practices in developing memorandums of understanding with governments. This work will help clarify what government and company members within the Voluntary Principles Initiative should include in shared security agreements.  Shared agreements may address aspects such as areas of responsibility, equipment usage and investigation of incidents.

We have been working with NGO International Alert to update their guidance on operating in environments where security may be challenging.

Implementing the Voluntary Principles

We provide those employees accountable for assessing and managing security risks with guidance explaining BP’s approach to implementing the Voluntary Principles, including the mechanisms we use for identifying and mitigating risk, interaction with public security forces, engagement with private security providers and evaluating progress. We periodically conduct internal assessments to identify areas where we can improve implementation. 

BP reports on its progress in relation to security and human rights issues in an annual report to the Voluntary Principles plenary.

Conflict minerals

We have not detected gold, tin, tungsten or tantalum in any of our products in 2015. Consequently, we do not need to file a form SD with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, under the terms of s1502 Dodd Frank Act.


The information on this page forms part of the information reviewed and reported on by Ernst & Young as part of BP's 2015 sustainability reporting. View the full assurance statement.

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