Building on the successes of the previous nine International Conferences of Ombuds Institutions for the Armed Forces in Berlin (2009), Vienna (2010), Belgrade (2011), Ottawa (2012), Oslo (2013), Geneva (2014), Prague (2015), Amsterdam (2016) and London (2017), this conference counted with the presence of over sixty participants from nearly forty countries who represented their Ombuds Institutions, and other institutions related to the Armed Forces and the keeping of peace.
The conference was jointly hosted by the South African Military Ombuds, and the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) and it gave ICOAF, an opportunity to further strengthen its functions as a platform for promoting democratic oversight of the armed forces and preventing maladministration and human rights abuses.
The theme of the conference focused on the conscious knowledge that the nature of armed forces has shifted, and this has meant the need to acknowledge the new roles and responsibilities that come with such a shift. This covers various areas of security such as domestic security, crisis response, border security, and peacekeeping operations. To best understand the relationship between the evolving roles of the armed forces and the position of the Ombuds institutions, it was important to engage in discussions that contributed to bridging the gap and to the creation of coherent relations between the two.
On one side, the shift of the armed forces has meant further engagement with the Ombuds institutions, but, on the other hand, such a shift has also meant that Ombuds institutions must now adapt and appropriately engage and address issues related to abuses, complaints, and the promotion and protection of human rights.
Through the fruitful discussions that took place during this conference, ICOAF continues to be a useful platform to enhance dialogue between Ombuds institutions and to strengthen their cooperation.