Our approach

Delivering on our commitments

Vitol respects and promotes human rights, recognising that our activities may positively or adversely impact people, and is committed to continuously improving our standards and procedures. Human rights risks vary according to business activities, geographies and other factors relevant to individual situations and different contexts. It is a complex and important matter for Vitol to manage.

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"Vitol acts upon findings that are in violation of the ESG framework and engages where appropriate"

Annik Bindler, Human Rights Manager

Our ESG framework is aligned with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and includes our commitment to respecting the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, the International Bill of Human Rights, and the Maritime Labour Convention. In the framework, we define our expectations on responsible business conduct for our own operations and business partners.

We acknowledge the importance of the private sector in promoting human rights, however, we also recognise its limitations and ability to influence change. Vitol therefore prioritises areas and activities within our own direct influence or considered to present the greatest risk to people (salient issues).

The UNGPs provide the overarching guidelines for Vitol’s risk-based human rights governance and reporting plan created in 2019 and which sets out our priorities. Vitol’s Human Rights Manager oversees the implementation of the plan and reports quarterly to the Board.

Human rights due diligence

Following a risk-based approach

To continuously assess actual and potential human rights impacts as well as to monitor the implementation of the framework in our operations, the ESG department works closely with other internal functions and with the companies in which Vitol is invested.

We follow a risk-based due diligence process as shown in the diagram below. When screening counterparts, we use international databases and internet searches, to identify whether any ESG shortcomings have been identified. KYC occurs before we enter into business relationships. The ESG department may require additional controls, e.g. completion of questionnaires, insertion of ESG clauses, carrying out third-party audits, or other relevant certifications.

The compliance team periodically monitors approved counterparties for potential issues and escalates relevant cases to the ESG department. Vitol acts upon findings that are in violation of the ESG framework and engages where appropriate. Human rights reviews (HRRs) and human rights impact assessments (HRIAs) occur less frequently but go into more detail where we anticipate the presence of salient human rights issues. Senior management across Vitol and the relevant entity receive written HRR and HRIA reports.

Salient human rights issues
Overview of high-risk and priority areas for enhanced due diligence to prevent, avoid and mitigate adverse impacts Covers all physical activities
Know your counterparty (KYC)
Counterparty screening based on risk or adverse media, potentially asking further due diligence questions and defining additional requirements Covers all trading counterparties, high-risk service providers, joint ventures Higher Frequency

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Deeper Analysis

Human rights reviews
On site assessment of human rights management and time-bound improvement plans Covers Vitol portfolio companies
Human rights impact assessments
Deep dive assessment and rightsholder engagement Covers activities that are core to Vitol where we anticipate the presence of salient issues

• Salient human rights issues define Vitol’s human rights due diligence strategy
• Findings from KYC, human rights reviews, and human rights impact assessments are integrated into the salient human rights issues assessment

Human rights reviews (HRR)

Human rights reviews (HRR) involve on-site assessments of human rights management systems and reinforce a two-way dialogue between Vitol and its stakeholders. Vitol’s ESG framework and potential high-risk areas provide the basis for an HRR. HRRs increase the visibility of actual or potential human rights impacts, strengthen controls, and identify good practices through engagement with management, employees and contractors and, if appropriate, community members. They are used to evaluate whether mitigation measures are understood, implemented and whether additional impact areas need to be addressed. HRR observations are included in a final report sent to relevant stakeholders. Closure of improvement actions are regularly reported to the Vitol Operational Risk Committee, and bi-annually to the Board.

A pioneering approach to human rights impact assessments in shipping.

We undertake HRIAs in activities in which we anticipate salient issues to be present and where we have leverage to mitigate or remediate any adverse impact, where they occur. HRIAs complement existing audits and highlight the current human rights experience of relevant stakeholders and what is important to them. HRIAs strengthen our understanding of how we can improve our performance.


  • To prevent, avoid, and mitigate adverse impacts and to provide remedy,
    if appropriate
  • Improve company policies
    and procedures


  • Where we anticipate salient issues
  • Where we have leverage to mitigate
    and remediate


  • Actual and potential human
    rights impacts
  • Understand priorities of
    affected stakeholders


  • Desktop research
  • Anonymous surveys and direct interviews with potentially
    affected stakeholders
  • Evaluation

Impact Monitoring

  • Risk-based improvement plan