After Sweden in 1809 and Finland in 1919, Denmark in 1955 became the third country in the world to acquire an ombudsman. And it was from Denmark that the ombudsman institution gained a footing all over the world. From that point onwards, the institution underwent spectacular growth. At present, more than 100 countries worldwide have ombudsmen at one or more levels of government. Nevertheless, the ombudsman is not yet widespread in the Asian region. So far only Hong Kong, Macao, South Korea, Thailand, and Pakistan have ombudsmen that are also members of the International Ombudsman Institute. In Indonesia an Ombudsman institution exists but is not a member of the International Ombudsman Institute.
Countries undergoing political transition can draw particular benefit from the existence and activities of an ombudsman. The presence of an ombudsman can contribute significantly to the development of young democracies, and help build public confidence in the government.
Former National Ombudsman of the Netherlands Roel Fernhout delivered this Lecture Tour series. Following his lectures, he exchanged views with discussants and the audience.
The speaker addressed general characteristics of ombudsmanship, as well as specific challenges that needed to be overcome in setting up a new ombudsman institution or improving an existing one. The countries he toured varied in the status of development and settlement of an ombudsman institution, and his lecture served as an opportunity to introduce insights and practical experiences that could be applied to each country.
Dr. Roel Fernhout, Professor of Law, University of Nijmegen and Former National Ombudsman of the Netherlands