December 28, 2018

Ombuds Year in Review: 2018 (Part 3)

The annual recap of the top ten Ombuds stories concludes today. Next week, readers will have a chance to express their opinion and vote on the list.

3. International Aid Organizations Feel Pressure to Create Ombuds in Response to Sexual Misconduct -- Although it was rooted in the U.S., the Me Too movement spread around the world leading many organizations to address gaps in their response programs and internal resources. Investigators revealed that many international aid organizations have failed stakeholders who complained about gender discrimination and sexual abuse. In August, British lawmakers recommended Ombuds be implemented to protect against abuses by charity workers and peacekeepers. In November a conference at the Hague presented a report by commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs calling for an Ombuds for international aid organizations. However, these proposals do not provide much detail about how such Ombuds would operate. Moreover, even Ombuds operating to recognized standards may not be understood or appreciated: In January , IOA defended the United Nations Ombuds program after the Guardian newspaper accused the UN Ombuds of failing to assist victims of discrimination and abuse. Expect more international NGO's to create and expand their Ombuds programs to address these issues in the future.

2. Regional and Affinity Ombuds Groups Flourish -- Many Ombuds have conflicting feelings about the International Ombudsman Association. On one hand, they appreciate the professional standards, training, and affiliation. But Ombuds also can feel a little lost and unrecognized at the annual conference, which is also quite expensive. Regional and affinity groups are responding, offering lower cost and more intimate events. These alternative groups are doing well. The California Caucus of College and University Ombuds, which almost died in 2009, has reached capacity in the past couple years. New groups started up in 2018, including ones for community college Ombuds and liberal arts Ombuds. In December, IOA published a list of 18 groups, but there are many others and the list will continue to grow (the list now stands at 22 groups). The challenge for IOA will be managing this demand for regional and affinity groups while preserving its role as the flagship professional association.

1. The First Ombuds Day is a Success -- October 11, 2018 was the first ever Ombuds Day. The new annual event for all types of Ombuds was organized and promoted by the American Bar Association's Dispute Resolution Section Ombuds Committee. A blog provided a tool kit with graphics, articles, press releases, and more. The U.S. states of Colorado and Connecticut, and the cities of Boulder, Denver, and Aurora signed proclamations recognizing the day. For the Ombuds Blog, the day was highlighted by a guest post by Reese Ramos, "The Thread that Unites Us All – A Celebration of Ombuds Day." It was an unexpected success for the first year.

Related post: Ombuds Year in Review: 2018 (Intro); Ombuds Year in Review: 2018 (Part 1)Ombuds Year in Review: 2018 (Part 2).

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