From Academic Kids

Template:Wiktionary An ombudsman is an official, usually but not always appointed by the government, who is charged with representing the interests of the public by investigating and addressing complaints reported by individual citizens. The term arose from its use in Sweden, with the Parliamentary ombudsman instituted in 1809 to safeguard the rights of citizens by establishing a supervisory agency independent of the executive branch. The word ombudsman and its specific meaning has since been adopted in to English as well as other languages, and ombudsmen has been instituted by other governments and organizations such as the European Union.

The origin of the word is found in Old Norse and the word umbuds man, meaning representative. The first preserved use in Swedish is from 1552. It is also used in the other Scandinavian languages such as the Icelandic "umboðsmaður", the Norwegian "ombudsmann" and the Danish "ombudsmand".

An ombudsman doesn't necessarily have to be appointed by government; for instance they may work for a corporation, a newspaper, an NGO, or even for the general public. Such an ombudsman obviously does not carry any governmental powers or sanction abilities.


Government ombudsmen


In 1713 King Charles XII of Sweden, preoccupied with fighting the Great Northern War, was residing in Bendery and had not set foot in Sweden in over a decade. In order to reestablish the domestic administration, which had fallen into disarray, he instituted the office of His Majesty's Supreme Ombudsman. The role of the King's Ombudsman was to ensure that judges and public officials acted in accordance with the laws, proficiently discharged their tasks, and if not he could initiate legal proceedings for dereliction of duty.

The autocratic rule of Gustav III of Sweden, that ended half a century of parliamentary supremacy in 1772, prompted the Riksdag of the Estates to institute an Ombudsman who was independent of the executive power when his son Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden was deposed in 1809. The King's Ombudsman, who in 1719 had been given a new title; Chancellor of Justice, was to be accompanied by a Parliamentary Ombudsman. The office of the Parliamentary Ombudsman was established by the Instrument of Government of 1809 and its role preserved in the new Instrument of Government in 1974.

Apart from this there are also a number of more specialized ombudsmen that operate under the authority of the Government of Sweden:

The Director-General of the Swedish Consumer Agency is also designated as a Consumer Ombudsman.

European Union

The European Ombudsman was established by the Maastricht treaty, the treaty establishing the European Union.


The Office of Ombudsman was set up under the terms of The Ombudsman Act, 1980. The Ombudsman, who is appointed by the President of Ireland upon the nomination of both Houses of the Oireachtas, deals with complaints against Government Departments, local authorities, health boards and An Post.

New Zealand

The post of Ombudsman was established in New Zealand in 1962, with the aegis of investigation of complaints against government departments. In 1975 the post was expanded, with a Chief Ombudsman and several (number unspecified) of other ombudsmen.


The Spanish laws translate "ombudsman" as defensor del pueblo ("People's defender"). There is a general Defensor del Pueblo for issues with the Spanish administration, and regional ones for the autonomous communities of Spain, for instance:

The Spanish Defensor can start processes at the Constitutional Court.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom a post of Ombudsman is attached to the Westminster Parliament with additional posts at the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and other government institutions.

List of all Ombudsman in the United Kingdom

Estate Agents Ombudsman, Financial Ombudsman Service, Financial Services Ombudsman Scheme for the Isle of Man, Health Service Ombudsman - England, , Health Service Ombudsman - Wales, Housing Ombudsman Service (HOS) (, Independent Police Complaints Commission, Legal Services Ombudsman, Local Government Ombudsman - England, Local Government Ombudsman - Wales , Northern Ireland Ombudsman, Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman, Parliamentary Ombudsman, Welsh Administration Ombudsman , Pensions Ombudsman, Removals Industry Ombudsman Scheme, Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman, Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, Telecommunications Ombudsman (OTELO)

Non-governmental ombudsmen

Many private companies also have an ombudsman (or a ombudsman department). Like the government official, they receive complaints and resolve them. Though they are not legally independent, they are part of a company's customer service strategy. Some companies treat their ombudsman very seriously and the ombudsman is very independent.

Newspaper ombudsman are especially valuable to newspapers by promoting journalistic integrity to their readers. There is an international Organization of News Ombudsmen. The press in Sweden is self-regulated through the Public Press Ombudsman (Allmänhetens Pressombudsman) and the Swedish Press Council (Pressens Opinionsnämnd).

See also

External links

  • ( - 'EPA Ombudsman Resigns: Accountability in Handling of Superfund Sites Threatened', Project on Government Oversight (April 22, 2002)
  • (;year=2002;volume=48;issue=4;spage=292;epage=6;aulast=Satyanarayana) - 'The role of the ombudsman in biomedical journals', Journal of Postgraduate Medicine, Vol 48, No 4, pp 292-296, 2002

Governmental ombudsmen

Australian government ombudsmen

  • ( - 'Commonwealth Ombudsman Australia: Assisting the Australian community by resolving complaints and fostering good government administration'
  • ( - 'Ombudsman for the Northern Territory'
  • ( - New South Wales Ombudsman
  • ( - The Ombudsman South Australia Office: providing free, impartial, informal and timely resolution of complaints to promote fairness, openness and good public administration in South Australia'

Canadian government ombudsmen

  • ( - 'The New Brunswick Ombudsman's Office: one central mission: to ensure that all New Brunswick citizens are treated with administrative fairness by government and its agencies.
  • ( - 'Newfoundland and Labrador Citizens' Representative'
  • ( - 'Nova Scotia Office of the Ombudsman: If you feel you have been treated unfairly by a provincial or municipal government body, or you have a complaint about a Nova Scotia government service...'
  • ( - 'Ombudsman British Columbia: Promoting Fairness for British Columbians'
  • ( - 'Ombudsman Manitoba'
  • ( - 'Ombudsman Ontario'
  • ( - 'Le Protecteur du Citoyen' (English language link)
  • ( - 'Office of the Yukon Ombudsman and Information & Privacy Commisioner'
  • ( - 'Ombudsman Saskatchewan'

European Parliament Ombudsman

New Zealand government ombudsmen

Swedish government ombudsmen

  • ( - 'Barnombudsmannen' (Ombudsman for Children)
  • ( - 'Ethnic Discrimination Ombudsman'
  • ( - 'Office of the Ombudsman against Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation'
  • ( - 'Equal Opportunities Ombudsman (Jämställdhetsombudsmannen)'
  • ( - 'Parliamentary Ombudsmen: The Ombudsmen of Justice (JO)'
  • ( - 'The Swedish Consumer Agency (Konsumentverket)'
  • ( - 'Instruction for the Office of the Press Ombudsman' (Swedish Press Ombudsman)

United Kingdom government ombudsmen

  • ( - 'The Financial Ombudsman Service: provides consumers with a free, independent service for resolving disputes with financial firms'
  • ( - 'Housing Ombudsman Service: An independent service dealing with complaints against landlords & agents, and other housing disputes'
  • ( - 'Independent Police Complaints Commission'
  • ( - 'The Commissioner for Local Administration in England: Local Government Ombudsmen's Home Page'
  • ( - Northern Ireland Ombudsman's Office
  • ( - 'Office of the Legal Services Ombudsman'
  • ( - 'Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman: Making complaints a positive experience* ( - '(Irish) Office of the Ombudsman'
  • ( - 'Public Services Ombudsman for Wales'
  • ( - 'The Pensions Ombudsman: investigates and decides complaints and disputes about the way that pension schemes are run'
  • ( - 'Office of the Telecommunications Ombudsman: We are an Ombudsman Service for public communication providers and their customers'
  • ( - 'Scottish Public Services Ombudsman'

United States government ombudsmen

  • ( - 'Office of the Ombudsman for Mental Health & Mental Retardation'
  • ( - 'State of Hawaii Office of the Ombudsman: independently and impartially investigates complaints against state and county agencies and employees'
  • ( - 'Office of Citizens' Aide Ombudsman, Des Moines, Iowa'

Non-governmental ombudsmen

  • ( - 'Ombudsman for Estate Agents Scheme: A free, fair and independent service for buyers and sellers of residential property in the UK'

Ombudsman associations

  • ( - 'British and Irish Ombudsman Association' (BIOA)
  • ( - 'Organization of News Ombudsmen' (ONO)
  • ( - 'International Ombudsman Institute: Ombudsman Web Resources'
  • ( - 'The United States Ombudsman Association: Promoting and supporting fairness, accountability, and equity in government through the public sector ombudsman'
  • ( - 'The European Network of Ombudsmen in Higher Education' (ENOHE), Universiteit van Amsterdam
  • ( - 'The Ombudsman Association (TOA), the largest non-profit, international association of professional organizational ombudspeople in the world'
  • ( - 'University and College Ombuds Association' (UCOA)

Ombudsman directories

  • ( - International Ombudsman Institute (international directory of ombudsmen)dk:Ombudsmand

de:ombudsman he:נציב_תלונות_הציבור hu:Ombudsman it:Ombudsman nl:Ombudsman no:Ombud pl:Ombudsman sv:Ombudsman


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