A Human Rights-Based Approach to Data

SDG 16 Hub • 8 June 2021
The text "A Human Rights-Based Approach to Data, Leaving No One Behind in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development" is displayed in bold. Icons representing participation and disaggregation are displayed over a cropped part of a sector diagram.

In step with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda) and its Sustainable Developments Goals (SDGs) adopted by Heads of State and Government at the United Nations Summit in September 2015 (A/RES/70/1), this note aims to provide general guidance and elements of a common understanding on a Human Rights-Based Approach to Data (HRBAD), with a focus on issues of data collection and disaggregation.

As devising disaggregation of indicators (or not) is not a norm or value-neutral exercise, and the risks associated with this operation for the protection of the rights of data subjects cannot be denied, an HRBAD has much to offer in this context. As outlined in this note, an HRBAD helps bring together relevant data stakeholders and develop communities of practice that improve the quality, relevance and use of data and statistics consistently with international human rights norms and principles. This note draws from internationally agreed principles for
statistics and echoes the call for a data revolution for sustainable development which upholds human rights. 

A preliminary set of principles, recommendations and good practices were formulated under the following headings of an HRBAD:

  • Participation
  • Data disaggregation
  • Self-identification
  • Transparency
  • Privacy
  • Accountability