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Working for the ICRC: a career at the ICRC?


ICRC policy on human resources, and information useful for future employees

Professional human resources management


Professional human resources management 

Ref. AF-N-00245-25 

The ICRC's human resources policy has been shaped in the light of the organization's strategic objectives. It enables the ICRC to call on motivated personnel who are at ease with the organization's humanitarian mission and share its fundamental values.

The aim of that policy is in particular to:

  • strengthen staff members'professional skills;

  • develop know-how in connection with the specific requirements of humanitarian action;

  • give the ICRC the capacity to mobilize and hire that enables it to operate in conflict zones without delay on the basis of needs;

  • promote equal opportunities for men and women.

The policy's key concepts are transparency of the measures applied, fairness in the treatment of staff and consolidation of management principles .

To implement this policy, the ICRC relies on professionals and tested management methods. For international staff it applies a system whereby objectives are set, each staff member's performance is evaluated every year, a policy of assignment and career planning is implemented and management careers are planned. Its Career Advisory Service facilitates career development and change. For the management of national staff, which is decentralized, it has established a standard reference framework.

The path followed by international staff


The path followed by international staff 

Many ICRC staff work for the organization for several years, then leave to continue their professional lives in another sector. The professional experience they acquired at the ICRC is a factor of success in such career changes.

To those wishing to continue with the organization the ICRC offers opportunities for career development, gradually increasing the level of responsibility and encouraging horizontal mobility, for the purpose of maintaining and developing skills and guaranteeing internal and external employability. Ongoing learning is one of the basic givens of career development at the ICRC.

The professional life of an expatriate typically progresses through three phases:

  • during the first two or three years, staff members learn institutional skills and about the ICRC's basic activities; this is also the time when each staff member's potential is assessed;

  • after three years, staff members can aspire to management functions and middle management positions involving the coordination of large-scale projects and supervision.

They take on growing responsibilities, and are required to display confirmed abilities of commitment and leadership and sure skills in managing personnel and making decisions in complex situations;

  • after several years, a successful career comprising supervisory positions wi ll result in the expatriate assuming strategic functions and occupying senior management positions.


 Regular appraisal of competencies and performance  

The career path of ICRC staff is largely shaped by regular evaluations of their performance. Once a year or after each mission, everyone's performance is assessed in writing by the direct supervisor. Everyone can comment on their performance and on their aspirations. The written evaluation (appraisal report) gauges performance, the quality of the person's contribution and the results obtained in terms of the objectives set. It examines the level of competence displayed in the post and of respect for professional ethics. This system of appraisal reflects the ICRC's expectations of its personnel. It is a key component of the ICRC's human resources management policy.

Duty stations


Duty stations 

Staff are assigned to duty stations on the basis of events in the countries in conflict and the needs of humanitarian operations. In principle, they are not free to choose where they will carry out their missions. The ICRC can decide to change the duty station at any time, if the circumstances so require.

In deciding where to post its expatriate staff, the ICRC must reconcile the characteristics of the post with the staff member's profile and with career planning requirements. It must meet operational needs while making sure each staff member's career follows a coherent path. In spite of the constraints, the ICRC encourages staff members to inform it of their aspirations. It tries to fulfil those aspirations if they are in keeping with a logical course of professional development. A data bank of all field and headquarters positions enables staff to express interest whenever a vacancy comes up. Staff can also tell the ICRC what they would like to do next, at the latest three months before the end of their mission.

Opportunities for national staff


Opportunities for national staff 

The ICRC endeavours to afford personnel hired and employed locally in the field - its delegation employees - opportunities for career development that are in tune with staff expectations and skills but also with the limits of their status and the organization's constraints.


 Greater professionalization  

In managing delegation employees, the ICRC must take account of:

  • their status and the length of time they have been with the organization, which differ in the case of expatriates;

  • its obligations under the country's domestic legislation;

  • the employees'strong political and social ties to the setting;

  • the fact that the ICRC's presence in the country is by definition limited in time.

For several years, the ICRC has been working to develop the professional qualifications and skills of delegation employees, who can:

  • gradually assume responsibilities in the delegation, depending on their experience and performance;

  • have access to institutional and technical training programmes;

  • carry out ad hoc missions for a limited length of time to ICRC delegations in other countries;

  • become expatriates, under the conditions required by the ICRC for the recruitment of applicants for expatriate missions.

In 2003, delegation employees conducted 118 ad hoc missions outside their countries of origin and 15 delegation employees became expatriates.


 Decentralized management  


The principles underlying the management policy for delegation employees are defined by ICRC headquarters, which guarantees that they are coherent in the long term. The application of the policy is entirely decentralized and conducted only in the field, in the delegations. The delegation is in charge of implementing the ICRC's key principles and adapting them to the local context.

Ongoing training


Ongoing training 

The ICRC's mission is such that staff must demonstrate a high level of professionalism. Ongoing training is one means of meeting the collective and individual training needs identified in the course of an operation and the requirements of quality those operations impose. The ICRC devotes a portion of its financial resources (5% of the total wage bill) to ongoing training, which forms part of a constant development process both from the technical point of view and for the purposes of staff supervision.


 A response to operational needs  


Training is provided in accordance with the function occupied. The ICRC finances training deemed to be necessary for a person to be able to carry out the tasks relating to that function and to the short and medium-term responsibilities he or she will be given.

The ICRC has one main Training Centre and decentralized Regional Training Units. It has developed its own training programmes in the light of the challenges of humanitarian practice. For example, it offers courses in its specific spheres of activity (protection, humanitarian law). There are also management programmes and courses in other technical fields.

In 2003, the ICRC organized over thirty different kinds of courses and about 256 training session s for its staff. Nearly 2,370 staff members took part in an internal training course. The ICRC also encourages staff to maintain and develop their professional skills. It supports the career development of its staff by providing a number of services.