Consultant on Microdata Governance at UN High Commissioner for Refugees

Terms of Reference

Ref No: CPH/VN/2022/037

Title: Consultant on Microdata Governance

Duty Station: Copenhagen, Denmark (possibility of Home-Based)

Duration: 7 months, starting as soon as possible

Contract Type: Individual Consultant Contract

Application deadline: 29 August 2022

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is offering a consultancy within the Global Data Service.

Organizational Context

To carry out its mandate to protect, assist and find solutions for refugees and other persons of concern to UNHCR (PoCs), UNHCR collects, processes, and disseminates a variety of microdata, both personal and nonpersonal and with different levels of sensitivity. Making data available internally within UNHCR, as well as externally to partners, governments, and other development, peace, and humanitarian actors in a responsible way, allows UNHCR to deliver on its mandate more effectively. Data collected by UNHCR and its partners must be managed responsibly, and in alignment with UNHCR’s data protection frameworks to avoid creating or aggravating risks to the wellbeing and safety of PoCs.

Following a Workshop organized by the World Bank UNHCR Joint Data Centre (JDC) on Forced Displacement in May 2020, UNHCR developed a suite of activities on the application of data responsibility principles to ensure that operations, policy, and research can continue to be informed by high-quality data. A subset of these activities focusses on governance and feeds into the implementation of the UNHCR Data Transformation Strategy (DTS) overseen by the UNHCR Senior Data Advisory Board, and which seeks to build on and strengthen UNHCR’s current approach to the management of microdata on PoCs.

Overall Purpose and Scope of Assignment

To support this work, UNHCR seeks a dynamic and proactive team player to review the policies, techniques and standards used to manage and disseminate microdata on PoCs and identify and document relevant good practice from other organizations with similar data needs and protection considerations. Based on this review, the consultant will make recommendations on optimizing UNHCR data governance as it applies to microdata on PoCs.

Duties and responsibilities

The consultancy will include the following elements:

Objective 1:

Map the current UNHCR policies, techniques, and standards (including their dependencies) that apply to microdata on PoCs and the process flow of microdata management and dissemination in UNHCR (including decision points and relevant authorities). This mapping should allow the consultant to identify any ways to optimize the current approach and framework. It will include the review of current and forthcoming UNHCR policies and guidance that relate to microdata on PoCs, including for example the General Policy on Personal Data Protection and Privacy (forthcoming), the Policy on the Protection of Personal Data of Persons of Concern to UNHCR and its associated Guidance, the Administrative Instruction on the Curation of Personal Microdata of Persons of Concern to UNHCR (forthcoming), and the UNHCR Microdata Curation Handbook (live).

Objective 2:

Identify and document relevant good practice in microdata governance by governments (e.g., national statistical offices) and humanitarian, development, and peace organizations with similar data needs and protection considerations (as well as relevant parts of the private sector through pragmatic and proportionate coverage, i.e., not exhaustive). Relevant interagency frameworks such as the IASC Operational Guidance on Data Responsibility in Humanitarian Action should also be included in this documentation. Work under this objective will be informed by the issues emergent from the 2020 May JDC Workshop, and the working definition of good practice should be rooted in the organizational and operational contexts that make it so.

Objective 3:

Compare the UNHCR data governance of microdata mapped under objective 1 with the good practice collated under objective 2 to identify concrete ways to strengthen UNHCR’s current approach, through changes to technical practice and the optimization of its intersection with governance. Work under this objective should consider related research exercises on aspects of data responsibility in humanitarian action (e.g., data sharing between humanitarian organizations and donors), and build on them where relevant.


Output 1: A three-part internal UNHCR report for review and use principally by the UNHCR Global Data Service. Parts 1, 2 and 3 of this report correspond to Objectives 1, 2 and 3 above.

Output 2: A public summary of the internal report, summarizing UNHCR’s approach to data governance in relation to microdata on persons of concern to UNHCR.

Essential minimum qualifications and professional experience required

The ideal candidate will have:

  • A relevant advanced university degree in Social Sciences, Operational Research, Business Administration, Data Science, Statistics, Public Policy, Law, Development, International Relations, Political Science, Economics or a related discipline.
  • A minimum of 8 years relevant experience with Graduate degree; or 7 years relevant experience with Doctorate degree, including roles in leadership and change management, ideally around data in humanitarian and/or development contexts, at or in support of public, research or international/ multilateral institutions.
  • Excellent English language skills and the ability to write precise, clear and impactful communication products in various formats and for a variety of audiences, as well as to conceptualize and communicate complex ideas clearly and purposefully.
  • Demonstrable experience communicating information related to data and statistics effectively to a variety of audiences, including senior managers and policy professionals.
  • Excellent ability to work as part of a diverse and fast-moving team.
  • Demonstrable knowledge of, and experience working with, issues and developments related to the use, governance, and dissemination of microdata at public, research, or international/multilateral institutions.
  • Experience working with UN agencies, international NGOs, international organizations, and/or governments (refugee-hosting and/or donor governments).


  • Field experience (country level) working for a humanitarian and/or development organization.

Location and Conditions

The successful candidate will be based in Copenhagen, Denmark (or home-based). This position is temporary for 7 months. It is a full-time role (40 hours per week). Recruitment as a UNHCR staff member and engagement under a UNHCR affiliate scheme or as an intern is subject to proof of vaccination against Covid-19.

How to apply

Interested applicants should submit their letter of motivation, Personal History Form (PHF) and CV to indicating “CPH/VN/2022/037” in the subject of the email. Personal History Forms are available at PHF Form / Supplementary Sheet.

As part of the recruitment process candidates might be requested to complete a technical assessment.

The UNHCR workforce consists of many diverse nationalities, cultures, languages and opinions. UNHCR seeks to sustain and strengthen this diversity to ensure equal opportunities as well as an inclusive working environment for its entire workforce. Applications are encouraged from all qualified candidates without distinction on grounds of race, colour, sex, national origin, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity.

The closing date for submission of applications is 29 August 11:59p.m. (Copenhagen time)

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