Ombuds institutions play a crucial role in ensuring that the armed forces operate with integrity and in a manner which is both accountable and transparent. By handling individual complaints, as well as through the exploration of thematic and cross‐cutting issues, ombuds institutions help to prevent human rights abuses, eliminate waste and malpractice and contribute to the overall good governance of the security sector.
The International Conference of Ombuds Institutions for Armed Forces (ICOAF)—which brings together ombuds institutions from more than twenty‐five states—first met in Berlin in May 2009. Its aim, over the past four years, has been to establish best practice and lessons learned relating to the mandate, powers and functioning of these institutions. As well as bringing together well‐established bodies, ICOAF has also actively sought to reach out, both to states with newly‐formed institutions, and those that have expressed an interest in creating such a body.