An interview with Shaun Kang, ICRC Special Adviser in Singapore


1. Why did you choose to join the ICRC?

I have two passions in life - law and helping those most in need. The ICRC provides me with the opportunity to turn my dreams into reality as it is an organization that protects and assists victims of armed conflict and in so doing also promotes adherence to international humanitarian law. What appeals to me most is the uniqueness of the ICRC in maintaining its independence, impartiality and neutrality despite the difficult situation it works in. The fact that the organization places focus not on who started the conflict or how the conflict began but instead on the well-being of the victims and how the ICRC could alleviate their sufferings is one of the surest reasons for me to be part of this organization.


2. What does working for the ICRC mean to you?

The ICRC has more than 19,000 personnel working in diverse contexts and roles. You may think that joining the ICRC is just adding to the number of staff and having another day job. To me, this is far from the truth. To be part of the ICRC is to be part of a larger family. As a family, we go through the most challenging times together and importantly, stay united despite the adversities faced. It is a strange and surreal feeling. My first encounter of this is when I met colleagues from the other side of the world. It was an instant connection, a sense of familiarity and an unexplained connection. I now know that this results from our common beliefs and for what we all stand for:


"The ICRC means family to me; a family that serves humanity together under the same flag and mission."


3. Could you give us some highlights & challenges of your current role?

My current role as Special Adviser, allows me to interact with government officials, military personnel, academicians, students and the general public in non-armed conflict contexts. One of the highlights of my role is the opportunity for me to bring to life the experiences, stories and challenges faced by victims of armed conflict. When I relate these experiences and see how often the audience are moved to tears, reaffirms my faith in humanity. It convinces me that while we may be living in a peaceful, stable and developed part of the world, we are still able to relate, empathize and share the pains and sufferings that are felt by our fellow human beings on the other side of the globe. This, to me, is what humanity is all about. My greatest challenge is not being able to reach out to every individual to share this story, to help everyone realize that despite our differences, we share something in common – humanity.


4. Any tips to people who want to join our organization?

To be a suitable fit at the ICRC, regardless of the role you are applying to, I firmly believe that you will find the most joy when your motivations and intentions to join the ICRC are aligned with the mission and mandate of the organization. Ultimately, one should have the desire to serve humanity, often doing so in challenging conditions, living in basic housing conditions and perhaps even being away from your family for a while. Importantly, I think that one should not be disillusioned that you are able to solve the world's problems when you join the ICRC as often the contexts which the ICRC works in are fraught with complexities that cannot be resolved easily. What you will be part of is a dedicated team of people who have come together to alleviate the sufferings of victims of armed conflict and to protect their lives and dignity.


"Ultimately, results are extremely important, but so is the heart."


Shaun graduated with a Bachelor of Laws Degree, LLB (hons) from the University of Reading, UK and a Master of Laws Degree, LLM from the National University of Singapore (NUS). He has worked in several international organizations and humanitarian agencies before finding true passion at the ICRC.