The National Ombudsman actively supports ombudsman and similar institutions in other countries. Assistance in the development of Ombudsman institutes is provided on request. The young democracies form a particular focus.
The importance of an ombudsman in a democratic society
An ombudsman plays an important role in the process of democratization, as noted on numerous occasions by the Council of Europe and the European Union. The availability of an independent ombudsman promotes the development of good governance and helps to ensure that human rights are upheld. An effective ombudsman is alert to signals from society. He examines the quality of government action objectively and impartially. He can do much to strengthen or restore confidence in the government and can help to educate the public about how government works. This creates greater transparency and ensures that public sector authorities are both accessible and accountable.
What can the National Ombudsman do?
As an organization, the National Ombudsman of the Netherlands has over thirty years’ experience in assessing complaints relating to the service provided by public sector authorities. The institute is willing and able to make its expertise available to sister institutions in other countries. The National Ombudsman has taken part in various projects of cooperation and regularly receives delegations wishing to learn more about methods and practices in the Netherlands. A project of cooperation is based on an equal partnership. Opportunities for a strengthening of the internal processes are discussed, as are ways in which to achieve greater effectiveness, allowing for any geographic, cultural, economic or demographic constraints.
Results of international cooperation
The National Ombudsman is part of the European Network of Ombudsmen, the members of which share best practices and information about relevant European legislation. The network organizes meetings and seminars, publishes a regular newsletter and hosts an online discussion forum. There is also a daily news service.
In recent years, the National Ombudsman has taken part in successful projects of cooperation with counterparts in Morocco, Indonesia and Greece. Cooperation is a two-way process which benefits both organizations. These international activities encourage self-reflection and enhance the quality of the National Ombudsman organization in the Netherlands.
The European Ombudsman and the Council of Europe
A resident of a European Union member state can direct a complaint about any part of the European organization to the European Ombudsman.
The Council of Europe has appointed a Commissioner for Human Rights who plays an important part in helping to establish new institutes in the young democracies.
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