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Head of Forensic Unit

Requisition ID:  16701
Region:  Europe (HQ)
Contract type:  Open-ended contract

Reports to (role)


Head of Central Tracing Agency

What we do


The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) works worldwide to provide humanitarian assistance to people affected by conflict and armed violence. We take action in response to emergencies and at the same time promote respect for international humanitarian law. We are an independent and neutral organization, and our mandate stems essentially from the Geneva Conventions of 1949. We work closely with National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and with their International Federation in order to ensure a concerted, rational and rapid humanitarian response to the needs of the victims of armed conflict or any other situation of internal violence. We direct and coordinate the international activities conducted in these situations.



As the Head of the Forensic Unit, you are an expert in Forensic science/medicine and responsible for ICRC forensic operations globally in terms of providing leadership, strategic direction, and vision. You design the strategy of the ICRC Forensic Unit, and together with the Forensic Global Management Team manage and oversee forensics globally. You guide the ICRC on forensic related matters externally and internally at the global level through necessary platforms and fora. You lead the Global Management Team and ensures operations are aligned with ICRC institutional objectives, as well as representing the Unit to the Directorate, Regions and Operations.

Main duties and responsibilities



  • Defines priorities areas for forensic engagement in the field, in coordination with the Head of CTA, Regions, Divisions, and other concerned units at HQ
  • Responsible for overseeing the orientation and implementation of the ICRC Forensic Strategy at a global level
  • Leads the Forensic Unit engagement in the transformation of the Central Tracing Agency, participating in necessary work streams and contribution to both meetings, initiatives, and documents
  • Plans objectives, activities and resources as part of the Forensic annual planning process, and contributes actively to the CTA and Division's planning process
  • Engages with Operations, and other concerned areas of the ICRC at HQ to contribute to policy discussions and emerging thematics
  • Responsible, in coordination with the Talent Manager, for the recruitment and selection of Forensic delegates (e.g. screening of candidates and technical interviews), and global planning
  • Manages each individual member of the Forensic Unit at HQ and overall management of Regional Forensic Managers in the Regions (functional reporting line), as part of the Global Management Team
  • Mobilizes the members of the Unit to work as a team as well as encouraging them to contribute to the work on transversal issues
  • Identifies potential external partners, both in terms of program implementation, research, and cooperation, and is responsible for the development and maintenance of a global network of forensic organisations and practitioners
  • Leads the ICRC Forensic Advisory Board in view of furthering Humanitarian Forensic Action
  • Organises and participates in forensic events at international humanitarian and forensic forums (e.g. workshops, thematic discussions, keynote presentations)

Main duties and responsibilities (continued)


  • Advises on and participates in ICRC diplomatic initiatives, including in bilateral and multilateral forums, related to humanitarian forensic action
  • Promotion of ICRC forensic programs and policies at various levels including, international organisations (e.g. United Nations), NGO’s, States, and other relevant platforms
  • As requested, provides input and proposes orientations, on all strategy, policy, and institutionally relevant documents
  • Proactively looks to identify emerging trends and takes the lead in working with COM to develop an internal and external communication strategy in external and internal publications
  • Disseminate the organisation’s communications on forensic science and humanitarian action:
    • Contribute to the dissemination of all relevant information on forensics both within the ICRC and beyond, in line with IHL obligations, including the preparation and presentation of appropriate materials for diverse audiences
    • Actively promote, advise and where appropriate help develop standards of forensic best practice
  • Supervise and provide reporting as required:
    • Provide expert advice on policy proposals and texts
    • Provide written and oral reports on forensic issues and missions as required for ICRC action and planning
    • Contribute to institutional planning and reports.

People management responsibilities


  • Ensures the management of the Forensic Unit and the Forensic Global Management Team.
  • Organizes regular meetings within their team to ensure optimal coordination of the work and proper flow of information.
  • Ensures that job descriptions for employees under their supervision are up to date; seeks feedback and support from the HR Department if needed.
  • Plans and coordinates the annual leave of the employees under their supervision ensuring continuity of the operations throughout the year and making sure that there are no outstanding holiday balances at the end of the year.
  • Coordinates and supports the employees under their supervision in their personal development by coaching and advising them on internal and external training and development possibilities.
  • Understands and supervises the Performance Management & Development (PMD) activities for employees under their supervision and engages in ongoing and continuous feedback and support, particularly for employees under their supervision, but also other staff members.


Scope & Impact


  • Contributes to developing of the ICRC's orientations, strategy and objectives/budget for Forensic activities at the global, regional and national levels (including during annual reporting for the field and headquarters).
  • Establishes and provides guidance on the interpretation of policies and practice.
  • Follows up on and provides support for all Forensic activities.



  • Internally, represents the Forensic Unit to the Directorate, Department of Operations and operational regions (at headquarters and in the field).
  • Externally, maintains relations with a network of experts, including medico-legal, forensic and academic institutions, partners within the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, and international organizations. Advises on and participates in ICRC diplomatic initiatives and external communication related to humanitarian forensic action.

Education and experience required


  • University postgraduate degree (at least Master’s level) in forensic medicine, biological or forensic sciences.
  • Minimum of 16 years' experience in forensic practice applied to humanitarian or human rights investigations.
  • Experience with deployment in complex field mission environments and previous project planning of missions.
  • In-depth knowledge of the humanitarian landscape and of the forensic-related challenges in conflict settings.
  • Proven experience in organizing and participating in international forensic investigations for human rights and/or humanitarian purposes
  • Confirmed contributions to relevant scientific publications in the field of forensic practice, especially as it applies to humanitarian and human rights investigations
  • Commitment towards the highest forensic scientific and ethical standards;
  • Outstanding communication skills both with colleagues and representing the ICRC's economic security activities externally.
  • Excellent command of English, knowledge of other languages is an asset.
  • Computer proficiency.

Desired profile and skills


  • Proven senior management and leadership skills, with a strong emphasis on people management and leading a multidisciplinary and multicultural team.
  • Clear planning, project management capacities with a focus on delivering results.
  • Capacity to negotiate with and influence a wide range of Forensic and other external stakeholders.
  • Previous experience and practice in negotiations and public relations particularly applied to the promotion and implementation of professional and ethical standards related to the field of expertise.
  • Experience in representation and networking, including the development and implementation of relevant standards. Bringing on an established network of forensic professionals and regular proven participation and contribution to international forensic events
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and capacity for collaborative teamwork.
  • Ability to lead, manage, motivate and develop people. 
  • Ability to develop and strengthen partnerships within and outside ICRC.


Additional information


  • Location:                        Geneva
  • Type of contract:            Required Rotation
  • Length of assignment:   5 years
  • Activity rate:                   100%
  • Estimated start date:      February 2021
  • Application Deadline:   Sunday, 17 January 2021



The ICRC values diversity and is committed to creating an inclusive working environment. We welcome applications from all qualified candidates.