The 11th World Conference of the Ombudsman for the Armed Forces (ICOAF) began today in Sarajevo, organized by the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiHPA), the Office of the BiH Parliamentary Military Commissioner and the Geneva Center for Security Sector Management (DCAF).
The conference was welcomed by DCAF Director, Ambassador Thomas Guerber, who emphasized in his statement the importance of building strong ombudsman institutions in the AF, resilient to all kinds of potential pressures.
“This is the largest ICOAF conference ever held,” said Ambassador Guerber, stating that the organizers and of the event have hosted the largest number of representatives so far.
This conference will mark a decade of international conferences, which was first initiated in Berlin in 2009 and has taken place annually since.
This year the conference will focus on the topic of “Building Resilient and Sustainable Ombuds Institutions”, specifically, how ombuds institutions can develop stronger internal capacities so that they are able to withstand threats and adapt to changing and challenging environments.
Against the backdrop of states encroaching on democratic space, the conference will explore how ombuds institutions can avoid politicization and attacks against their impartiality and independence, without compromising their mandate.
The aim of the International Conference of Ombuds Institutions for the Armed Forces (ICOAF) is to establish best practice and lessons learned related to the mandate, powers and functioning of ombuds institutions with a mandate to oversee the armed forces. ICOAF gathers representatives of ombuds institutions for the armed forces from around the world. To date, representatives of ombuds institutions of over 50 countries have participated in the ICOAF initiative, which has been ongoing since 2009.