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4.15.2009

New Report on Ombudsman

We have recently posted a new report on constitutional provisions on the Ombudsman. The ombudsman is originally a Scandinavian institution, dating at least back to Sweden’s 1809 constitutional settlement. But ombudsmen have become popular in many regions of the world, particularly with the spread of human rights movement in the postwar era. Over 20% of contemporary constitutions include an ombudsman of some type, though there is regional variation, with ombudsman institutions being relatively rare in the Middle East and East Asia.

Ombudsmen are empowered to challenge government actions that violate the rights of citizens, complementing and substituting for institutions of administrative law. In some sense the ombudsman can be seen as an alternative to a constitutional human rights commission, though a small number of constitutions (13 in our dataset) adopt both institutions. Ombudsmen powers also vary a good deal, ranging from mere recommendations to the ability to refer questions to the courts.

For more detail see the Reports tab of our website, www.constitutionmaking.org/reports.html, under the Regulatory and Oversight Bodies tab.

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