President's Speeches and Engagements

Concluding remarks by President Field and Vice President Europe Behrens upon their return from an official visit to Ukraine

We thank President Zelensky for his inspirational and courageous leadership of Ukraine. He has not ceded, and will never cede, his great nation’s sovereignty to the Russian Federation. History will remember him as an indefatigable and fearless champion of democracy, the rule of law and human rights.

We honour every soldier and civilian who has fought and those who have fallen. On a number of occasions Rob Behrens and I were told we were brave to travel to Ukraine. We were not. We visited brave people.

We offer my sincerest thanks to Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, Dmytro Lubinets. He is a deeply impressive leader building an exceptionally strong Ombudsman’s office and doing so while his country is at war.

We thank the many members of civil society that we met and the invaluable work that they are doing on a daily basis in Ukraine.

“I am deeply grateful to my good friend and colleague Rob Behrens CBE, IOI Vice President Europe, who joined me on this visit. He is a person of utter integrity, searching intellect and profoundly good values. He came to Ukraine. He lives his values” said Chris Field.

“The leadership, tenacity, bravery and humility of our hosts - Commissioner Dmytro Lubinets and his superb Ombudsman team, Parliament's Speaker Ruslan Stefanchuk, Irpin Deputy Mayor Dmytro Negresha, the amazing security services team who protected us throughout - made the journey (in the words of Speaker Stefanchuk) 'historic' and unforgettable. We return home humbled, and determined to promote the Ukrainian cause faced with a brutal, illegal, invasion in as concrete way as the world Ombudsman community can” said Rob Behrens.

IOI President and IOI Vice President Europe visit Irpin, Ukraine

IOI President Chris Field and IOI Vice President Europe Rob Behrens CBE undertook a visit to the city of Irpin in Ukraine.

Only twenty kilometres from Kyiv, the Russian Federation invaded Irpin, with Kyiv its next target. What followed was a battle that initially saw hundreds of civilians killed and a huge number of internally displaced persons and refugees. The invasion wrought mass destruction with 70% of this thriving city destroyed. Atrocities, mass human rights violations and devastation occurred everywhere. With exceptional courage, Ukraine recaptured the city. President Zelensky named Irpin the ‘Hero City of Ukraine’. President Field and Vice President Europe Behrens spoke at length to just one of those heroes. Civilians who would not allow their city to be taken from them; even as their own homes had been reduced to rubble or incinerated.   

“This shameful war, this appalling aggression against a sovereign nation must end. The International Ombudsman Institute stands in the deepest solidarity with the people of Ukraine. But we will also over the coming months and years commit to every practical form of assistance we can provide our courageous colleague Dmytro Lubinets. We will do so while Ukraine fights this war and we will do so after they win this war” said President Field.

 

IOI President and IOI Vice President Europe visit Kyiv, Ukraine

IOI President Field and IOI Vice President Europe Behrens commenced their third day in Kyiv with a visit to the bunker used by the staff of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights during Russian Federation missile attacks. This was followed by a formal exchange with the Commissioner and his senior staff, before attending a meeting of the Coordination Council of the Ombudsman of Ukraine, a senior advisory council of civil society human rights experts. Both President Field and Vice President Europe Behrens had the privilege of addressing the Council.

The President and Vice President Europe then visited places of destruction in Kyiv. One particularly tragic moment was seeing an operational power station that was intended to be destroyed by a Russian missile. Instead, this missile destroyed a residential apartment building on other side of the road with the loss of lives of Ukrainian civilians.

The visit then included inspecting captured Russian Federation military equipment, prior to paying our respect to those soldiers who have given their lives for their country. The day finished by visiting a ‘Point of Invincibility’, an ‘inflatable’ building that has power, tea, coffee, water and beds for Ukrainian citizens, and particularly as the temperature starts to fall to -10 or less, these buildings are heated.

IOI President Field on City Tour in Ukraine, December 2022

IOI President and IOI Vice President Europe meet Chairman and Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, Mr Ruslan Stefanchuk in Ukraine

IOI President Chris Field and IOI Vice President Europe, Rob Behrens CBE were honoured to meet the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, Mr Ruslan Stefanchuk in Ukraine.

The Chairman expressed his sincere gratitude to the Ombudsmen for the constant support of Ukraine in the field of human rights, its guarantees and protection, for demonstrating personal courage in a difficult time for Ukraine.

“This is an example of professionalism and courage for the leaders of the world human rights institutions. You demonstrate your commitment to the ideals of human rights and freedom not in words, but in deeds,” the Chairman of the Ukrainian Parliament stressed.

In a very warm exchange, the Chairman, Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, Dmytro Lubinets, President Field and Vice President Europe Behrens were able to discuss this vital time in Ukrainian history, and world history, for the supremacy of democracy, the rule of law, human rights and freedom. “I thank the Speaker for everything he is doing to advance and ensure these great principles in the great sovereign nation of Ukraine” said President Field.

President Chris Field with the Chairman and Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, Mr Ruslan Stefanchuk

IOI President and IOI Vice President Europe attend conference in Ukraine

IOI President Chris Field and Vice President Europe Rob Behrens CBE attended the International Conference “Human Rights in Dark Hours” in Ukraine. As a reminder that Ukraine is under ongoing missile and drone attack from the Russian Federation, the conference was held in one of the deepest subway stations in the world. The Conference commenced with a poignant candlelight vigil for those Ukrainians who have made the ultimate sacrifice for democracy, freedom, the rule of law and the great sovereign nation of Ukraine.

Time Person of the Year, President Zelensky, provided a powerful opening speech. In his speech, President Zelensky specifically noted the visit to Ukraine by the International Ombudsman Institute: “I am glad that Chris Field is present among us today - it’s my pleasure, good afternoon - President of the International Ombudsman Institute, a representative of a system whose potential can provide much more for the protection of human rights for Ukraine.”

The IOI President followed President Zelensky in addressing the conference. An entire session of the conference was dedicated to the IOI Vice President Europe both addressing the conference and also hosting a Q & A session with our outstanding colleague and valued IOI Member, the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, Dmytro Lubinets. IOI President Field also undertook an international press conference.

President Chris Field attending the International Conference “Human Rights in Dark Hours" in Ukraine

President Chris Field speaking at the International Conference in Ukraine, December 2022 International Conference in Ukraine, December 2022

 

President meets with Australian Ambassador to Poland, Mr Lloyd Brodrick, and Australian Ambassador to Ukraine, Mr Bruce Edwards, during official visit to Poland

Chris Field, President of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI), met with Australian Ambassador to Poland, Mr Lloyd Brodrick, and Australian Ambassador to Ukraine, Mr Bruce Edwards, during his official visit to Poland.

“Ambassador Brodrick and I were able to discuss a large number of matters relevant to my visit to Poland. Ambassador Edwards and I were able to discuss the current situation in Ukraine in significant detail. I express my sincere thanks to both Ambassadors for their deep knowledge for the very generous amount of time they afforded me” said President Field.

IOI President Chris Field with Australian Ambassador to Poland and Australian Ambassador to Ukraine 2022

President meets with His Excellency Mr Vasyl Zvarych, Ambassador of Ukraine to Poland, during official visit to Poland

Chris Field, President of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI), met with His Excellency Mr Vasyl Zvarych, Ambassador of Ukraine to Poland, during his official visit to Poland.

“On the occasion of my official visit to Poland, it was a great pleasure for me to meet His Excellency Mr Vasyl Zvarych, Ambassador of Ukraine to Poland. I was delighted to be accompanied at the meeting by the Australian Ambassador to Ukraine, Mr Bruce Edwards” said President Field.

“Ambassador Zvarych shared with me a deeply thoughtful consideration of the current situation in Ukraine and we enjoyed a very warm exchange. I was able to indicate to His Excellency that the IOI stands resolutely and unambiguously with the people of Ukraine. As I ready to travel to Kyiv tomorrow as President of the IOI, the Ambassador’s insights will assist me greatly to ensure that my visit to Ukraine will further the commitment of Ombudsman and National Human Rights Institutions not just now, but also in the post-war period, after Ukraine has won the war” said President Field. 

IOI President Chris Field with Australian Ambassador to Poland and Australian Ambassador to Ukraine 2022

President meets with the Commissioner for Human Rights of Poland, Professor Marcin Wiącek, during official visit to Poland

Chris Field, President of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI), met with the Commissioner for Human Rights of Poland, Professor Marcin Wiącek, during his official visit to Poland.

“This afternoon, as an important part of my official visit to Poland, it was a genuine pleasure to spend time with my valued colleague, Commissioner for Human Rights of Poland, Professor Marcin Wiącek. Commissioner Wiącek was recently elected to his position. He is a very impressive individual and the IOI is grateful to have the Commissioner as a member. At this meeting, I was delighted to be joined by friend and colleague, Rob Behrens CBE, UK Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman and Vice President of the European Region of the International Ombudsman. I am also particularly grateful that joining Ombudsman Behrens and I was the Australian Ambassador to Poland, Mr Lloyd Brodrick” said President Field.

IOI President Chris Field with Human RIghts Commissioner of Poland

President provides address on the occasion of an international conference and celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Cyprus Ombudsman

Chris Field, President of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) and Western Australian Ombudsman, provided an address to conference guests on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Office of the Cyprus Ombudsman.

“It was my honour this morning to address guests at a landmark international conference and celebration of the 30th anniversary of the institution of the Cyprus Ombudsman. I was delighted to join Maria Stylianou Lottides, Commissioner for the Administration and Protection of Human Rights of Cyprus; Emily O’Reilly, European Ombudsman and Andreas Pottakis, President of the Association of Mediterranean Ombudsman, Regional President Europe of the International Ombudsman Institute and Ombudsman of Greece. I was particularly honoured to be joined by Annita Demetriou, President of the House of Parliament, the first woman to hold this high office and the youngest person to do so as well. I sincerely thank her for being a role model for women in leadership in Cyprus and around the world” said President Field.

“The Cyprus Ombudsman’s work in service of the House of Representatives of Cyprus, the citizens of their great country, and in support of the global institution of the Ombudsman, is an achievement of the highest significance and profoundly worthy of today’s celebration” said President Field.

President Field told conference delegates: “Very significantly, the Cyprus Ombudsman has recently been re-accredited as an ‘A status’ National Human Rights Institution by the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions. As President of the International Ombudsman Institute, I congratulate the Cyprus Ombudsman on its reaccreditation. This is an outstanding achievement and one of which their institution should be extraordinarily proud”.

President provides address on the occasion of a ceremony to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Croatian Ombudsman

Chris Field, President of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) and Western Australian Ombudsman, provided an address to ceremony guests on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Office of the Croatian Ombudsman.

“As President of the International Ombudsman Institute it is my great privilege to extend to my valued colleague Ombudswoman Einwalter my sincerest congratulations on the occasion of a ceremony to celebrate the 30th anniversary of her esteemed Institution. It was a great honour to address ceremony guests this morning on this important occasion” said President Field.

“The institution of the Croatian Ombudsman embodies, in all of its work, the very essence of the Paris Principles, the Venice Principles and the United Nations General Assembly Resolution, The role of Ombudsman and mediator institutions in the promotion and protection of human rights, good governance and the rule of law. I sincerely thank the Croatian Ombudsman for being a champion of these principles for three decades” said President Field.

President Field told ceremony guests: “Hvlah for your support of good governance, human rights and the rule of law. Hvlah for your cooperation with your European and international colleagues and what you do for the Parliament and citizens of the great nation of Croatia”.

 

President provides virtual address at the Conference for Ombudspersons and National Human Rights Institutions within the framework of the First Parliamentary Summit of Crimea Platform

Chris Field, President of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) and Western Australian Ombudsman, provided a virtual address at the Conference for Ombudspersons and National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) within the framework of the First Parliamentary Summit of Crimea Platform.

“It was a great honour last night to join Ombudsman and NHRIs from around the world for the Conference for Ombudspersons and NHRIs within the framework of the First Parliamentary Summit of Crimea Platform. The conference was co-hosted by my valued colleagues Ombudswoman Einwalter, the Ombudswoman of Croatia and Commissioner Lubinets, Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights” said President Field.

“The unlawful annexation of Crimea and the unlawful invasion of Ukraine stands condemned by Ombudsman institutions and the IOI. The invasion of the Ukraine is at once an existential threat to regional and global peace and prosperity, but also a daily direct threat, that has resulted in tragic death and displacement, for the Ukrainian people. Following my official visit to Hungary to attend border crossing points at the Hungarian-Romanian border and the Hungarian-Ukrainian border last month, in December I will be undertaking an official visit to Ukraine following an invitation to do so from Commissioner Lubinets” said President Field.

President Field told conference delegates: “The IOI expresses its deepest concern, and sorrow, for the ongoing tragic loss of life in the Ukraine, the internal displacement of millions of Ukrainians, the refugee crisis and the profound impact on Ukraine’s economy, its cultural institutions and its infrastructure. The community of Ombudsman institutions, as represented by the IOI, is dedicated to promoting and protecting the rule of law and human rights. We offer our strongest support to Commissioner Lubinets in his profoundly courageous work to assist the citizens of the Ukraine so severely affected by the armed conflict. We also stand with the Ukrainian Business Council Ombudsman. We are also deeply grateful for the work undertaken by our Ombudsman colleagues in countries neighbouring Ukraine, and in Europe more generally, to safeguard the fundamental rights of refugees crossing their respective borders”.

President attends annual conference of the Australasian and Pacific Ombudsman Region, in Wellington, New Zealand

Chris Field, President of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) and Western Australian Ombudsman, attended the annual conference of the Australasian and Pacific Ombudsman Region, in Wellington, New Zealand.

“Immediately following the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Ombudsman of New Zealand, the Australasian and Pacific Ombudsman Region (APOR) of the IOI held its annual conference and meeting. As both President of the IOI, but also Western Australian Ombudsman, I was delighted to attend. It was a particular joy, following a number of virtual events, to spend time with my great friends and colleagues. I sincerely thank Deborah Glass, Victorian Ombudsman and Regional President, for her wonderful leadership of the event and the significant work of Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier and his international staff team in ensuring our APOR conference and meeting was so successful” said President Field.

IOI President Chris Field at the Australasian and Pacific Ombudsman Region, in Wellington, New Zealand

President provides address at the Parliament of New Zealand on the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of the Office of the Ombudsman of New Zealand

Chris Field, President of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) and Western Australian Ombudsman, provided an address at a ceremony held on the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of the Office of the Ombudsman of New Zealand.

“It was a great honour to join the Hon Chris Hipkins, Minister for the Public Service and the Chief Ombudsman of New Zealand, Peter Boshier, in addressing a very special event held at the Parliament of New Zealand to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Ombudsman of New Zealand. Since 1962, the Ombudsman of New Zealand has been a leader in ensuring that dealings between the State and citizens are universally and unwaveringly fair and dignified. The Ombudsman of New Zealand is one of the oldest, and now largest and most respected, Ombudsman offices in the world” said President Field.

“Beyond this, the Ombudsman of New Zealand has had a longstanding leadership role in the international community. This can be exemplified by the fact that New Zealand Ombudsmen have held the office of President three times in the International Ombudsman Institute’s (IOI) 44-year history, more than any other country. Two of these Presidents, Dame Beverley Wakem and Sir Brian Elwood attended the commemoration. This tradition of exceptional service has been carried on by Chief Ombudsman Boshier, and Second Vice President of the IOI, who has made enormously valued contributions to our region, to the global community and to the institution of the Ombudsman itself. I thank him for his conspicuous achievements. I also express my congratulations and appreciation to the Deputy Ombudsman and staff team of the Ombudsman of New Zealand for their work to ensure the major event was such a great success” said President Field.

Read the President's Speech

IOI President Field with Hon Chris Hipkins, Minister for the Public Service (right) and the Chief Ombudsman of New Zealand, Peter Boshier (middle)

President meets with Her Excellency Ms Harinder Sidhu, Australian High Commissioner to New Zealand, during official visit to New Zealand

Chris Field, President of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) and Western Australian Ombudsman, met with Ms Harinder Sidhu, Australian High Commissioner to New Zealand, at the Australian High Commission in Wellington, on the occasion of his official visit to New Zealand.

“On the occasion of my official visit to New Zealand to address the ceremony of the 60th anniversary of the Ombudsman in Aotearoa New Zealand, it was a pleasure to meet with Her Excellency, Ms Harinder Sidhu, Australian High Commissioner to New Zealand, at the Australian High Commission in Wellington. I sincerely thank Her Excellency for our discussion regarding the work of the International Ombudsman Institute and Ombudsman institutions, both in our region of the world, but also at this most critical time in Europe and globally” said President Field. 

President presents the Golden Order of Merit to two former Presidents, and Life Members, of the International Ombudsman Institute, during official visit to New Zealand

Chris Field, President of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) and Western Australian Ombudsman, presented two Golden Orders of Merit during his official visit to New Zealand.

"As part of my official visit to New Zealand, it was truly a great honour to present the Golden Order of Merit to two former Presidents, and Life Members, of the IOI, Dame Beverley Wakem DNZM CBE and Sir Brian Elwood CBE JP. The Golden Order of Merit recognises exceptional contribution in respect of the purposes of the IOI” said President Field.

“Sir Brian was the President of the IOI between 1999 and 2002. Dame Beverley was President between 2010 and 2014 and the first woman to hold the position of Chief Ombudsman of New Zealand. Dame Beverley was a wonderful mentor and friend to me when I was first elected to the World Board of the IOI in 2012. I express my deepest appreciation for the hugely significant contribution Dame Beverley and Sir Brian have made to the IOI, the institution of the Ombudsman, global good governance and to their country” said President Field.

IOI President Field with Dame Beverley Wakem DNZM CBE

Golden Order of Merit awarded to two former Presidents, and Life Members, of the IOI, Dame Beverley Wakem DNZM CBE and Sir Brian Elwood CBE JP

President attends meeting with Mr Bruce Edwards, Australian Ambassador to Ukraine

Chris Field, President of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) and Western Australian Ombudsman, attended a meeting with Mr Bruce Edwards, Australian Ambassador to Ukraine, as part of the Ambassador’s official visit to Western Australia.

“It was a great pleasure to meet Bruce Edwards, Australian Ambassador to Ukraine (and Moldova) yesterday morning. Ambassador Edwards was very generous with his time and we had an exceptionally helpful exchange. The meeting with Ambassador Edwards was particularly well-timed as I have just returned from my official visit to Hungary to attend the border crossing points of Hungary, Ukraine and Romania and will be undertaking an official visit to Ukraine in early December. The International Ombudsman Institute will always stand with our members, including the Ukraine Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights, and never waver in our support for adherence to the international rules-based order and condemn the egregiousness, and tragedy, of the breach of this order” said President Field.

“More generally, I continue to be appreciative, and deeply so, of the significant and gracious support offered to me by all Australian Ambassadors and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in my role as President of the International Ombudsman Institute” said President Field.

Chris Field, President of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) and Western Australian Ombudsman, with Mr Bruce Edwards, Australian Ambassador to Ukraine

 

President provides virtual Welcome Address at the international conference, “The rights of older persons and role of ombudsman and mediator institutions”, held in Tbilisi, Georgia

Chris Field, President of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) and Western Australian Ombudsman, provided a virtual Welcome Address at the international conference, “The rights of older persons and role of ombudsman and mediator institutions”, organised by the Association of Mediterranean Ombudsmen and the Office of the Public Defender of Georgia.
 
“I acknowledge all distinguished speakers at the conference, in particular, the President of the Association of Mediterranean Ombudsmen, Andreas Pottakis; and the Public Defender of Georgia, Nino Lomjaria. Both President Pottakis and Ombudsman Lomjaria are highly valued colleagues of mine on the World Board of the International Ombudsman Institute, with Ombudsman Pottakis also being the European Regional President of the Institute” said President Field.
 
President Field told Conference delegates: “The tragically disproportionate mortality and morbidity rates for older people arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, and shifting societal demographics due to ageing populations, are both matters that make the theme of this conference particularly timely, resonant and, indeed, poignant. It is absolutely vital that we ensure the dignity of older people, who have contributed so much, and continue to contribute so much, to the way of life that we enjoy. Our collective efforts must be directed to the safety, health, well-being and living standards of older people in our communities.”

President attends meeting with His Excellency Mr Vasyl Myroshnychenko, Ambassador of Ukraine to Australia

Chris Field, President of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) and Western Australian Ombudsman, attended a meeting with His Excellency Mr Vasyl Myroshnychenko, Ambassador of Ukraine to Australia, as part of the Ambassador’s official visit to Western Australia.

“On the occasion of his official visit to Western Australia, it was a great privilege and pleasure to meet His Excellency Mr Vasyl Myroshnychenko, Ambassador of Ukraine. Ambassador Myroshnychenko and I had a warm and positive exchange and I was able to indicate to His Excellency that Western Australians, Australians and the IOI unequivocally support the people and sovereign nation of Ukraine” said President Field.

“It was a particularly propitious time to meet Ambassador Myroshnychenko having just recently returned from my official visit to Hungary to attend the border crossing points of Hungary, Ukraine and Romania, and to meet and speak with Ukrainian refugees. I will also be undertaking an official visit to Ukraine in early December, joined by my valued colleagues and friends, Andreas Pottakis, Ombudsman of Greece, European Regional President and member of the World Board of the IOI and President of the Association of Mediterranean Ombudsman Association and Rob Behrens, Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman of the United Kingdom, Vice President of European Region and member of the World Board of the International Ombudsman Institute” said President Field.

Chris Field, President of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) and Western Australian Ombudsman, with His Excellency Mr Vasyl Myroshnychenko, Ambassador of Ukraine to Australia and Ms Rebecca Poole, President's Chief of Staff

President attends border crossing points at the Hungarian-Romanian and Hungarian-Ukrainian borders during official visit to Hungary

Chris Field, President of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) and Western Australian Ombudsman, attended border crossing points at the Hungarian-Romanian and Hungarian-Ukrainian borders during his official visit to Hungary.

“Over a period of two days, I was privileged to meet local Mayors, doctors, nurses, red cross staff, and border crossing officers, all of whom have played a vital role in ensuring the well-being and safe passage of more than one million refugees escaping the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine. My visit included the Csengersima-Petea crossing point at the Hungarian-Romanian border and the Záhony, Beregsurány and Lónya crossing points at the Hungarian-Ukrainian border. My visit followed an invitation from the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights of Hungary, Dr Ákos Kozma. The prominent presence of highly dedicated staff from the office of the Commissioner working from temporary regional offices, both in directly oversighting the work of government agencies and providing immediate information and assistance to refugees, is a great testament to the critical role of the Ombudsman institution at times of crisis" said President Field.

“By far my greatest privilege was to speak directly to a Ukrainian family fleeing the war. While Russian missiles had been successfully destroyed by Ukraine’s anti-missile defence system, the explosions were so close to their apartment building that they collected their belongings overnight and their journey to refuge commenced at 5am that morning.  It is an unimaginable trauma for many of us to have to flee the place that your children have grown, and your life revolves, to an utterly uncertain future. This harrowing, heartbreaking account, of which there are at least seven million other stories, is the devastating consequence at a human level that flows directly from breaches of the rules-based international order” said President Field. 

Chris Field, President of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) and Western Australian Ombudsman, attended border crossing points at the Hungarian-Romanian and Hungarian-Ukrainian borders

President meets with President of the Constitutional Court of Hungary, Dr. Tamás Sulyok, during official visit to Hungary

Chris Field, President of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) and Western Australian Ombudsman, attended a meeting with the President of the Constitutional Court of Hungary, Dr. Tamás Sulyok, during his official visit to Hungary.

“As part of my official visit to Hungary, it was a pleasure to meet with Dr. Tamás Sulyok, President of the Constitutional Court of Hungary. I sincerely thank the President for the generous amount of time he provided me and for our very positive discussion. I am very grateful to the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights of Hungary, Dr Ákos Kozma, for organising this meeting” said President Field.

Chris Field, President of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) and Western Australian Ombudsman, and the President of the Constitutional Court of Hungary, Dr. Tamás Sulyok

President plants memorial tree in Nyírerdő Nyírségi Erdészeti Zrt State Forest in honour of his official visit to Hungary

Chris Field, President of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) and Western Australian Ombudsman, was invited to plant a memorial tree in Nyírerdő Nyírségi Erdészeti Zrt State Forest in honour of his official visit to Hungary.

“The Commissioner for Fundamental Rights of Hungary, Dr Ákos Kozma, has a mandate to protect the rights of future generations. In recognition of this important mandate, and on the occasion of my official visit to Hungary, it was a great honour to be invited to plant a memorial tree in Nyírerdő Nyírségi Erdészeti Zrt State Forest. I am very grateful for the very warm hospitality provided by the officers charged with the management of this beautiful forest. They also informed me that the now sapling should go on to make a positive contribution to our environment for at least a century” said President Field. 

Chris Field, President of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) and Western Australian Ombudsman, planting a memorial tree in Nyírerdő Nyírségi Erdészeti Zrt State Forest

President attends formal luncheon at the residence of Mr Richard Sadleir, Australian Ambassador to Austria and Head of the Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Vienna, in honour of his official visit to Austria

Chris Field, President of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) and Western Australian Ombudsman, attended a formal luncheon at the residence of Mr Richard Sadleir, Australian Ambassador to Austria and Head of the Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Vienna, in honour of his official visit to Austria.

President Field was joined at the luncheon by Mr Werner Amon, Minister for European and International Affairs, Education and Human Resources, Government of Styria and immediate former Secretary General, IOI; Ms Gaby Schwarz, Secretary General, IOI and Chairperson, Austrian Ombudsman Board; Ms Rebecca Poole, Head of the Office of the President;  Mr Meinhard Friedl, Head of Minister’s Cabinet for European and International Affairs, Government of Styria; Mr Emil Stojanovski, Deputy Head of Mission, Australian Embassy and Permanent Mission to the United Nations, Vienna, Austria; and Ms Hannah Suntinger, Executive Director, IOI.

“It was a great privilege that Mr Richard Sadleir, Australian Ambassador to Austria and Head of the Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Vienna, hosted a formal luncheon at his residence in honour of my official visit to Austria. Ambassador Sadleir is also the Australian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia, as well as Australia’s representative to multilateral institutions,” said President Field.

“Austria and Australia have a warm and longstanding relationship, cooperating on a range of issues of mutual interest, particularly in multilateral institutions, as well as strong bilateral relations deepened by a Strategic Cooperation Arrangement. The Ambassador, from my direct experience, is an outstanding contributor to the success of this relationship and a range of multi-lateral relationships involving Australia. The luncheon created an outstanding opportunity to discuss, at this critical time for both Europe and the world, the role of oversight agencies in promoting human rights and the rule of law” said President Field.

Chris Field, President of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) and Western Australian Ombudsman with Mr Richard Sadleir, Australian Ambassador to Austria and Head of the Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Vienna

 

President attends meeting with the new Secretary General of the International Ombudsman Institute, Ms Gaby Schwarz, during official visit to Austria

Chris Field, President of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) and Western Australian Ombudsman, attended a meeting with Ms Gaby Schwarz, Secretary General of the IOI and Chair of the Austrian Ombudsman Board, during his official visit to Austria.

“I was delighted, as part of my official visit to Austria, to meet the new Secretary General of the IOI, Ms Gaby Schwarz. Ombudsperson Schwarz is also the Chair of the Austrian Ombudsman Board. It was an honour to meet with the first woman to hold the office of Secretary General. The Secretary General was for many years a very senior and respected journalist for Österreichischer Rundfunk, the Austrian national public service broadcaster.  Immediately prior to her appointment as Ombudsperson, the Secretary General was a member of the National Council of the Parliament of the Republic of Austria having served as a member of Parliament for nearly five years. The Secretary General and I discussed a wide range of matters, including our important work to advance closer cooperation with the United Nations,” said President Field.

“The Secretary General and Chair of the Austrian Ombudsman Board is a person of very significant past accomplishments and will now be an outstanding leader of the IOI Secretariat. Our first meeting was hugely warm and productive, and I am delighted that we will have the opportunity to work together to advance our shared commitment to human rights, good governance and the rule of law,” said President Field.

Chris Field, President of the International Ombudsman Institute and Western Australian Ombudsman with Ms Gaby Schwarz, Secretary General of the IOI and Chair of the Austrian Ombudsman Board

President participates in a live panel discussion at the International Mediation Congress, An approach to Conflict in the Global Agenda, held in Rosario, in the province of Santa Fe, Argentina, on 7 July 2022.

Chris Field, President of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) and Western Australian Ombudsman, participated in a live panel discussion at the commencement of the final day of the International Mediation Congress, An approach to Conflict in the Global Agenda, held in Rosario, in the province of Santa Fe, Argentina, on 7 July 2022. This followed the very kind opportunity given to President Field to provide a Welcome Address to the conference on 5 July 2022.

Fellow panellists were Dr Pablo Ulloa, President of the Ibero-American Federation of Ombudsman (FIO) and Ombudsman of the Dominican Republic, as well as Mr Gabriel Savino, Ombudsman of Santa Fe and Director on the World Board of the IOI.

“I am particularly delighted to participate in this live panel discussion with President Ulloa and Ombudsman Savino. I hold your work in the highest regard. You are both very valued members of the IOI. It is also my strong desire to further strengthen cooperation, friendship and the significant mutual interests of the FIO and IOI and continue to collaborate with the outstanding Ombudsman, Public Defenders and Human Rights Institutions of the Caribbean and Latin American region” said President Field.

President Chris Field with Chief of Staff Rebecca Poole at the Parliament of Austria

 

President provides Welcome Address to the International Mediation Congress, An approach to Conflict in the Global Agenda, held in Rosario, in the province of Santa Fe, Argentina

Chris Field, President of the International Ombudsman Institute and Western Australian Ombudsman, provided a Welcome Address to the International Mediation Congress, An approach to Conflict in the Global Agenda, held in Rosario, in the province of Santa Fe, Argentina, from 5 to 7 July 2022.

Participants in the Congress included Mr Pablo Ulloa, President of FIO; Ms Cristina Ayoub Riche, President of the ILO; Mr Werner Amon, Secretary General of the IOI; Mr Kai Brand-Jacobsen, President, Peace Action, Training and Research Institute of Romania; and Mr Gabriel Savino and Mr Jorge Henn, Associate Ombudsmen of the Office of the Ombudsman of Santa Fe.

“Advancing our understanding of conflict is at the very core of the work that we do and the reason why our institutions actually exist. Indeed, not a single day will pass without our institutions responding to, or being influenced by, conflict of some kind. In undertaking this important work, our institutions uphold the great principles of justice, human rights and the rule of law” said President Field.

President Field told Congress delegates that: “The Latin American region, and its Ombudsmen, defenders of the public and human rights institutions, are admired by me and admired all around the world for your scholarly and practical commitment, particularly in relation to such vital methodologies as mediation, conflict resolution and restorative justice. Equally, you are admired for your steadfast commitment to human rights protection in all its forms, including championing the rights of women and those who are most vulnerable in your societies. I thank you for that work”.

 

President delivers speech on the occasion of the presentation of the 2021 Annual Report of the Human Rights Commission of Mexico City

Chris Field, President of the International Ombudsman Institute and Western Australian Ombudsman, delivered a speech on the occasion of the presentation of the 2021 Annual Report of the Human Rights Commission of Mexico City, held on 30 June 2022. President Field was invited to speak at the event by the President of the Human Rights Commission of Mexico City, Ms Nashieli Ramírez Hernández.

“There can be no more critical matter to the success of our collective international efforts to protect human rights, than ensuring there are spaces for exchange and dissemination of information. Work internationally can only be successful when it is properly informed by work undertaken at a local level” said President Field.

“I acknowledge the exceptional work of President Ramírez Hernández and the Commission for the citizens of Mexico City. On the occasion of the launch of this important Annual Report, I congratulate the President and the Commission” said President Field.

 

President attends meeting with the Ambassador to France, Her Excellency Ms Gillian Bird

As part of my official visit to Paris, the Australian Ambassador to France, Her Excellency Gillian Bird, met with me earlier today. Given my short time in Paris, it was particularly gracious of Her Excellency to accommodate our meeting.

Her Excellency has extensive senior Ambassadorial experience, and it was very kind of her to offer so much thoughtful and helpful insight into the work that the International Ombudsman Institute is currently undertaking with supra-national and other bodies. Following our productive and enjoyable exchange today, I will meet with Her Excellency again on my second official trip to Europe later this year.

President Chris Field with Chief of Staff Rebecca Poole at the Parliament of Austria

President attends meeting with the Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the OECD, Mr Brendan Pearson

Following my meeting this afternoon with the Australian Ambassador to France, Her Excellency Gillian Bird, I was delighted to meet Ambassador Brendan Pearson Permanent Representative of Australia to the OECD. This discussion followed my meeting with the Secretary General of the OECD, Mathias Cormann on Monday.

The Ambassador and I had a very enjoyable and productive discussion regarding the work of the International Ombudsman Institute and the OECD. The Ambassador very kindly offered to engage in further exchange about these matters.

I am grateful to the Ambassador for the perspectives he was able to bring to our discussions which will assist the IOI’s ongoing approach to these matters.

President Chris Field with Chief of Staff Rebecca Poole at the Parliament of Austria

President attends meeting with the Secretary-General of the OECD, Mr Mathias Cormann

It was a particular privilege yesterday to meet with the Secretary General of the OECD, Mr Mathias Cormann. The Secretary General was incredibly gracious to meet with me in Paris coinciding with my official visit to Austria. I have the highest admiration for the Secretary General who, following a distinguished senior Ministerial career in Australia, successfully performs his very important and demanding role with huge intellect, energy and humility.

Economic co-operation and development are absolute cornerstones of human dignity. Without them, the institutions of democracy cannot be funded, nor essential civic infrastructure, nor vital social justice programs.

I discussed with the Secretary General the work of the International Ombudsman Institute, and its more than 200 members from over 100 countries, in supporting good governance and the rule of law through work on anti-corruption measures, integrity, transparency and good governance. Adherence to the rule of law reduces sovereign risk and encourages the private capital investment that is essential to strong economies and caring, successful societies.

President Chris Field with Chief of Staff Rebecca Poole at the Parliament of Austria

President has formal exchange with His Excellency Mr Karl Nehammer, Chancellor of Austria

My formal exchange with the Chancellor of Austria, His Excellency, Karl Nehammer, was memorable. His Excellency has a penetrating depth of intellect, thoughtfulness and very genuine care about issues for the people of Austria and for people internationally.

President Chris Field meeting with the Chancellor of Austria, His Excellency, Karl Nehammer

President provided private tour of the Parliament of the Republic of Austria

This week I was given a private tour by His Excellency Alexis Wintoniak, Vice Director of the Parliament of the Republic of Austria. This magnificent Parliament is under renovation and restoration. While the program of works is being undertaken, the Parliament is presently located at the Imperial Palace (Hofburg). I was accompanied on the tour by Mr Werner Amon, Secretary General of the International Ombudsman Institute, and prior to his appointment as Ombudsman, a very longstanding and senior member of the Parliament.

When works are finished, the Parliament will not only retain all of the beautiful features that represent an ode to both ancient Roman and Greek architecture and governance, but also be ready for the 21st century. There has been great attention given to a range of ways that the Parliament will be accessible and available to the people of Austria. It will truly be a people’s Parliament; a great testament to a Parliament in service of its citizens.

I thank His Excellency for providing such an informative tour and sharing with me his depth of insight.

President Chris Field with Chief of Staff Rebecca Poole at the Parliament of Austria

Peter Tyndall awarded Golden Order of Merit of the Republic of Austria

Peter Tyndall came to Vienna this week to attend the celebrations of the 45th Anniversary of the Austrian Ombudsman Board. But he also came for another reason. To be the first ever recipient of the Golden Order of Merit, recognising his conspicuous service to the International Ombudsman Institute and the institution of the Ombudsman.

Peter was the Ombudsman and Information Commissioner for Ireland, and before that, the Ombudsman for Wales. He was also a true international leader and an outstanding President of the International Ombudsman Institute for five years. Peter and I worked together very closely during his Presidency. He is extraordinarily intelligent, thoughtful and supremely warm-hearted. I am proud of our close friendship over many years. This made the opportunity to give the speech in his honour, and bestow the Order to Peter, all the more meaningful.

Peter Tyndall receiving the Golden Order of Merit of the Republic of Australia

President appears before the People’s Advocacy Committee of the Parliament of the Republic of Austria

This week I was given the opportunity to appear before the People’s Advocacy Committee of the Parliament of the Republic of Austria. After providing an introductory statement, I was delighted to answer a series of deeply thoughtful questions from the Honourable Members of the Committee.

As an officer of the Parliament of Western Australia, I take nothing more seriously than my oath to serve the Parliament in good faith. And so it is when I travel. It was a great privilege to have the opportunity to address the Committee. I thank Chairwoman Martina Diesner-Wais and all Committee Members. I will not soon forget their level of engagement and the appreciation, warmth and generosity they extended to me during my session with the Committee.

IOI President Field at the People’s Advocacy Committee of the Parliament of the Republic of Austria

President provides address at the Parliament of the Republic of Austria on the occasion of the 45th Anniversary of the Austrian Ombudsman Board

I was deeply honoured to be the international guest speaker on the occasion of the 45th Anniversary of the Austrian Ombudsman Board held at the Parliament of the Republic of Austria. It was, in my view, a celebration of democracy, of the great Republic of Austria and of a treasured and trusted institution. His Excellency, Doctor Alexander Van der Bellen, Federal President of the Republic of Austria; Magister Wolfgang Sobotka, President of the National Council; Magister Christine Schwarz-Fuchs, President of the Federal Council and the three members of the Austrian Ombudsman Board also addressed the ceremony.

The Austrian Ombudsman Board is both an Ombudsman with all the gravitas that its history bestows upon it, but absolutely a modern Ombudsman institution committed to human rights. In April this year the Austrian Ombudsman Board was officially recognized as an ‘A status’ institution by the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI).

I take great pleasure, both publicly and privately, and all around the world, to acknowledge the support that makes the International Ombudsman Institute Secretariat possible. But I have never had this opportunity in the one place that it is most meaningful to do so – the Austrian Parliament. On this auspicious occasion, I was able to acknowledge, and formally thank, the Parliament of the Republic of Austria and successive Austrian governments for their generous support of the IOI Secretariat.

The institution of the Ombudsman upholds the great principles of democracy, human rights, good governance and the rule of law. I thank the Austrian Ombudsman Board for being a champion of these principles for four and a half decades. It is an achievement of which the Austrian Ombudsman Board ought to be extraordinarily proud and, for which, I am profoundly grateful.

Read the President's Speech

IOI President Field presenting at the 45th Anniversary of the Austrian Ombudsman Board

President provides address at the Parliament of the Republic of Austria on the occasion of the 10th Anniversary of the Austrian Ombudsman Board’s OPCAT mandate

This week I was honoured to provide an address at the Parliament of the Republic of Austria on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Austrian Ombudsman Board’s Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) mandate.

OPCAT is an incredibly powerful mechanism to prevent human rights violations. It is truly a system of human rights ennobled and enabled. It brings together international, national and subnational governments, offices of statutory remit, academic and non-government actors in a way that focusses our greatest attention to the areas of greatest need.

The Austrian Ombudsman Board are rightly highly regarded for their work in the protection of human rights. Further, Austrian leaders have made hugely influential contributions throughout the history of the development of OPCAT and its preventative visiting paradigm.

In both my capacity as President of the International Ombudsman Institute, and as Ombudsman that has recently been designated in my country as a National Preventative Mechanism (NPM) under OPCAT, I can confidently say that we all owe a great debt to the people of Austria to have helped create both a principled regime, but also a wholly practical mechanism for the prevention of human rights violations.

Read the President's Speech

IOI President Field presenting at the 10th Anniversary of the Austrian Ombudsman Board’s OPCAT mandate

President attends meeting with His Excellency Mr Wolfgang Sobotka, Federal President of the National Council of the Republic of Austria

It was a great honour for me to meet with the Federal President of the National Council of the Republic of Austria, Wolfgang Sobotka, yesterday. His Excellency and I discussed the work of Ombudsmen internationally with regard to their role in upholding democratic principles, good governance, the rule of law and human rights.

His Excellency was very generous to make time to meet with me given his extraordinarily busy schedule.

Our exchange was one for which I am deeply grateful.

I again express my sincere thanks to my close colleague and friend Werner Amon, Secretary General of the International Ombudsman Institute and Ombudsman for the Republic of Austria, for organizing the meeting and accompanying me.

IOI President Field with Federal President of the National Council of the Republic of Austria, Wolfgang Sobotka and Werner Amon, Secretary General of the International Ombudsman Institute

President has formal exchange with His Excellency Mr Karl Nehammer, Chancellor of the Republic of Austria

It was a singular honour, and absolute pleasure, to have a formal exchange with the Chancellor of Austria, Karl Nehammer, yesterday. I had the opportunity to discuss with His Excellency the role of the Ombudsman institution internationally in promoting and protecting democracy, good governance, the rule of law and human rights.

His Excellency was exceptionally gracious to provide time to meet with me given his extraordinarily busy schedule. I am deeply grateful for our exchange.

I express my sincere thanks to my close colleague and friend Werner Amon, Secretary General of the International Ombudsman Institute and Ombudsman for the Republic of Austria, for organizing the meeting with His Excellency and accompanying me.

It gives me great pleasure to share a photo from His Excellency’s twitter post regarding our meeting.

IOI President Field meeting with the Chancellor of Austria, His Excellency, Karl Nehammer

President provided private tour of the Feuerwehr Verband, the Fire Brigade Association and Museum St. Florian, as part of official visit to Graz

As the final part of my official visit to Graz, on Sunday 5 June, I was provided a private tour of the Feuerwehr Verband (Fire Brigade Association and Museum St. Florian). I am very grateful to the wonderful Directors of the Museum for being such generous hosts. I was particularly honoured to be at the museum as its President is Werner Amon, Secretary General of the International Ombudsman Institute and Ombudsman of the Republic of Austria. It was also an honour to sign their guestbook.

The museum is a quite exceptional combination of the history of firefighting in the province of Styria dating back hundreds of years, but also curated modern art exhibitions. The installed exhibition on my visit was one the most imaginative and compelling I have seen.

As I leave Graz for Vienna, I can reflect that the city of Graz (which I had not previously visited) is truly one of the most friendly and beautiful that I have had the good fortune to spend time. The countryside of Styria is magical. The people of Styria are proud of their province; it is truly easy to see why.

In addition to the exceptional graciousness of Werner Amon, I also pay particular thanks for the significant support of the outstanding Meinhard Freidl, Executive Director of the International Ombudsman Institute and my equally outstanding Chief of Staff, Rebecca Poole.

President Chris Field visits the Feuerwehr Verband Museum

President provided private tour of the Grazer Landhaus, home of the Parliament of Styria, as part of official visit to Graz

As part of my official visit to Graz, on Saturday 4 June I also undertook a private tour of the Grazer Landhaus, an exceptional Renaissance Palace dating back to 1527, and home to the Parliament of Styria. I was proud to stand next to mein freund, Werner Amon, Secretary General of the International Ombudsman Institute at the Speaker's podium.

President Chris Field visits the Grazer Landhaus

President provided guided tour of the Landeszeughaus, the world’s largest historic armoury, as part of official visit to Graz

As part of my official visit to Graz, on Saturday 4 June I was provided a guided tour of the Landeszeughaus in Graz, the world’s largest historic armoury. I am very grateful to the Director and our guide for sharing with us this superb museum. It contains artifacts of great historical value and of interest to the world, so much so that the museum has regularly provided curated exhibitions for world tours including Australia.

President Chris Field visits the Landeszeughaus Armoury in Graz

President attends meeting with His Excellency Mr Hermann Schützenhöfer, Governor of Styria

I commenced my official visit to the Republic of Austria on the occasion of the 45th Anniversary of the Volksanwaltschaft (Austrian Ombudsman Board) on Friday 3 June. As a guest of my very good friend and colleague Mr Werner Amon, Secretary General of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) and Ombudsman of the Republic of Austria, my visit began in Graz in the province of Styria. Werner is a proud Styrian and hugely accomplished representative, and dedicated servant, of the Styrian people for many years.

On Saturday 4 June, it was my great honour and privilege to meet His Excellency Mr Hermann Schützenhöfer, Governor of Styria. I was joined in this meeting by Werner Amon.

It was a genuine pleasure to discuss with His Excellency the vital work of the IOI in protecting and promoting human rights, good governance and the rule of law. I also discussed the very valued friendship of Austria and Australia, including our recently entered Strategic Cooperation Arrangement.

His Excellency has made an extraordinary contribution to public life over five decades. It was particularly generous of him to receive me as one of his last acts in office.

President Chris Field and His Excellency Mr Hermann Schützenhöfer, Governor of Styria

President provides Welcome Address to the General Assembly of the International Ombudsman Institute European Region

My friend and colleague, International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) Europe President and Greek Ombudsman Andreas Pottakis, organized this year’s General Assembly of the European IOI. The event was hosted on Thursday, 26th May 2022 at the premises of the European Public Law Organization in Legraina.  I was delighted to provide a welcome address to my valued colleagues attending the General Assembly. Greece is the birthplace of democracy; Europe the birthplace of the Ombudsman. I stand in strong support of my European colleagues and work that they are doing for both the Ombudsmen of Europe and the international ombudsman community, including leadership on independent peer review.


President returns from official visit to New York

Having just returned home, it is perfect time for me to record my appreciation for all those that made the International Ombudsman Institute’s week in New York possible. First, I thank each and every one of the members of the IOI World Board for their extraordinarily thoughtful contributions during the week. My job as President and Chair is easy due to them. Second, I thank my dear friend, Mr Werner Amon, Secretary General of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) and Ombudsman of the Republic of Austria. I could wish for no better colleague. Third, I thank another great friend, the Executive Director, IOI Secretariat, Meinhard Friedl. I have rarely seen someone so committed to an organisation being represented with utmost professionalism and abiding commitment to success. Fourth, to the staff of the IOI Secretariat, Karin Wagenbauer, Sabrina Lojnik and Hannah Suntinger - Danke meine Freunde. Fifth, the Austrian Cultural Forum very generously hosted our meeting and I thank Director Michael Haider for his warm hospitality. The wonderful Forum staff, including intern staff, could not have been more generous to me. My final thanks is reserved for my exceptional Chief of Staff, Rebecca Poole, for whom a commitment to human rights, good governance and the rule of law is only matched by an indefatigable work ethic.

Farewell Reception hosted by Australia’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, the Hon. Mitch Fifield on the occasion of the President’s official visit to New York

On 12 May, His Excellency, the Honourable Mitch Fifield, Australian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, hosted a Farewell Reception for the International Ombudsman Institute World Board on the occasion of my visit to New York.

Ambassador Fifield was a very generous host. Moreover, the Ambassador has made a very significant contribution to public life in Australia and internationally that I admire. It was a genuine pleasure to be with him on this occasion and for both of us to share the country of which we are so proud with the world.

President Chris Field and Ambassador Richard Arbeiter

United Nations Ombudsman Shireen Dodson attends International Ombudsman Institute World Board meeting in New York

While in New York, the Secretary General and I were delighted that United Nations Ombudsman Shireen Dodson made time to brief the International Ombudsman Institute World Board on her important work, including ensuring that all of her offices and staff globally are responsive to the most important human rights and equality for all.

President Field and Ambassador Richard Arbeiter

United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and United Nations Institute for Training and Research Executive Director Mr. Nikhil Seth and President of the International Ombudsman Institute, sign a Memorandum of Understanding

On 12 May 2022, at the meeting of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) Board of Directors in New York, I had the pleasure to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the IOI and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). UNITAR was represented in this virtual signing ceremony by United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and UNITAR Executive Director Mr. Nikhil Seth, who joined the virtual ceremony from Geneva.

The work of UNITAR makes a vital contribution to better outcomes for citizens globally, particularly those in developing nations. There is significant alignment in the work of the IOI and UNITAR.

Furthermore, I am so pleased that the IOI is forging even closer ties with the UN by signing this MoU, following on from the UN Resolution on The role of Ombudsman and mediator institutions in the promotion and protection of human rights, good governance and the rule of law.

This MoU is a strong foundation upon which we can, and will, continue to learn from each other to provide the most informed and effective work for the communities we have the privilege to serve.

President Field and Ambassador Richard Arbeiter

International Ombudsman Institute President Chris Field and Austrian Consul General in New York Helene Steinhäusl invite IOI World Board members to a Reception at the Austrian Consulate General

It was a singular honour to host, with the Austrian Consul General in New York, Ms. Helene Steinhäusl, and the Secretary General of the International Ombudsman Institute and Ombudsman of the Republic of Austria, Mr Werner Amon, a Welcome Reception in New York at the Consulate for the International Ombudsman Institute World Board.

The Austrian Consul General could not have been a more gracious or generous host. It was the perfect way for the World Board to commence our formal work and I express my sincere gratitude to the Austrian Government, the Consul General and Mr. Hubert Heiss.

President Field and Ambassador Richard Arbeiter

President Chris Field attends official dinner at the New Zealand Official Residence of the Ambassador to the United Nations in New York,
H.E Ms Carolyn Schwalger

In the course of my visit to New York, I was delighted to attend an official dinner at the residence of the New Zealand Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, Ms Carolyn Schwalger, together with the Second Vice President of the IOI and Chief Ombudsman of New Zealand, Mr Peter Boshier and a number of distinguished guests, including the Secretary General of the International Ombudsman Institute, Mr Werner Amon.

Australia and New Zealand are great friends, and so it is with my office and the office of the Ombudsman New Zealand. Ambassador Schwalger not only warmly opened her home to us, but provided us deeply thoughtful insight to our work in New York. I am very grateful to the Ambassador and the Chief Ombudsman of New Zealand.

President Field and Ambassador Richard Arbeiter

President attends meeting with Hon. Mitch Fifield, Australia’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York

It was my great privilege this morning to meet with Australia’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, the Hon. Mitch Fifield. I am exceptionally grateful to Ambassador Fifield and the Australian Government for their ongoing support of my role as President of the International Ombudsman Institute (the IOI) and for the institution of the Ombudsman in its work in promoting good governance, the rule of law and human rights. The Ambassador and I were able to undertake an extremely useful dialogue regarding strengthening the relationship of cooperation and collaboration between the IOI and the UN. My work in New York will continue over the next week in a series of meetings with Ambassadors, meetings with the UN and chairing the annual World Board meeting of the IOI. Ambassador Fifield has also been extremely kind to host, on the occasion of my visit to New York, a Farewell Reception for the World Board on Thursday 12 May at the offices of the Permanent Representative. This will follow a Welcome Reception jointly hosted by myself, the IOI Secretary General Mr. Werner Amon, and the Austrian Consul General in New York, Mrs. Helene Steinhäusl, at the Austrian Consulate General on Tuesday 10 May 2022. I am also delighted that on Thursday 12 May, Mr. Nikhil Seth, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and Executive Director, United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and I will sign a Memorandum of Understanding between UNITAR and the IOI. 

President Field and Hon. Mitch Fifield

President attends meeting with Ambassador Richard Arbeiter, Deputy Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations in New York

I was delighted this afternoon to meet with Ambassador Richard Arbeiter, Deputy Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations in New York with my valued colleague Paul Dube, Ombudsman for Ontario and IOI Regional President, North America. Canada and Australia are warm friends and it was an absolute pleasure to discuss with Ambassador Arbeiter the relationship of the IOI and the UN. I am most grateful for the generous time he provided to us.

President Field and Ambassador Richard Arbeiter

Secretary General of the IOI and Ombudsman for the Republic of Austria, Mr Werner Amon undertakes an official visit to the President of the IOI

On Sunday 13 March and Monday 14 March, Secretary General of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) and Ombudsman of the Republic of Austria, Mr Werner Amon, undertook an official visit to the President of the IOI and Western Australian Ombudsman, Mr Chris Field. The IOI is the global organisation representing 205 Ombudsman institutions from over 100 countries. The IOI Secretariat is domiciled in Vienna in the offices of the Austrian Ombudsman.

The Secretary General was accompanied by the Executive Director of the IOI Secretariat, Mr Meinhard Friedl. The President was accompanied by the Head of the International Secretariat and office of the President, Assistant Ombudsman Rebecca Poole.

The official visit commenced with an informal dinner on Sunday 13 March, followed by an official bilateral exchange on the morning of Monday 14 March. Following a tour of the office of the Ombudsman, a formal lunch was held in the Members’ Dining Room of Parliament House. The delegation was accompanied at lunch by Mr Wilfried Wimmler, Honorary Consul of Austria. The delegation then undertook a tour of the Parliament. The Ombudsman then accompanied his guests to visit two great Western Australian icons, Kings Park and Cottesloe Beach, including the annual Sculptures by the Sea.  

“I am deeply indebted to my friend and colleague the Secretary General for visiting me as a matter of first priority following the change in Western Australia’s borders. Nothing the IOI does would be possible without the generous support of the Austrian Government and the tireless efforts of the Secretariat of the IOI, led so incredibly well by the Secretary General” said President Field.

“It was a great privilege and pleasure for me to welcome both the Secretary General and the Executive Director to share, with great pride, our outstanding city with them. The official visit has further strengthened our exceptional working relationship. It has also fortified our resolve to ensure that we continue the vital work of the IOI in protecting and promoting human rights, good governance and the rule of law around the world” said President Field.

 

 

 

 

 

President attends webinar jointly organised by the African Ombudsman Research Centre and the International Ombudsman Institute

President of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI), Chris Field, was very pleased to attend a webinar jointly organized by the African Ombudsman Research Centre (AORC) and the IOI. The webinar focussed on the benefits of membership of both the African Ombudsman and Mediators Association (AOMA) and the IOI for Ombudsman institutions in Africa. He was joined by fellow speakers IOI Treasurer and Public Protector of Zambia, Caroline Sokoni; President of AOMA, Chairperson of the AORC Board, IOI Board member and Public Protector of South Africa, Busisiwe Mkhwebane; IOI Secretary General and Austrian Ombudsman, Werner Amon; and former IOI President and former Ombudsman of Namibia, John Walters. The webinar was facilitated by President of the African Region of the IOI, Secretary General of AOMA and Ombudsman of Kenya, the Hon Florence Kajuju. Introductory remarks were provided by Dr. Freddy Mnyongani, Academic Leader for Teaching and Learning at the University of KwaZulu-Natal School of Law.

The President discussed the vision, values and work of the IOI. He also recognised the vital work of the AORC.

“It is my view that the AORC undertakes world leading Ombudsman research and training. As President of the International Ombudsman Institute, I am deeply grateful for the work they do for the Ombudsman of Africa, but also for Ombudsman all around the world. I also thank the University of KwaZulu-Natal, a world-leading university, for their support of the AORC.”

“I close by saying to my many friends and colleagues throughout the extraordinary continent of Africa, you have my greatest admiration and you will always have my strongest interest and support. The IOI stands with you each and every day. We are here to serve you and provide you with meaningful and direct benefits” said President Field.

“We should always remember that while individual offices may be relatively small, together, we are very large. Together, we can, and do, achieve extraordinary results.”

 

President provides opening address to the XII Virtual Assembly and Seminar of the Latin American Institute of the Ombudsman

Chris Field, President of the International Ombudsman Institute and Western Australian Ombudsman, provided an opening address to the XII Virtual Assembly and Seminar of the Latin American Institute of the Ombudsman, Human Rights and Transition: The Ombudsmen and their contribution to the future, held on 2 December 2021.

The Assembly and Seminar was dedicated to Berta Cáceres, a Lencar indigenous woman from Honduras and defender of the Lencar people, the protection of their territories and the environment.

“I am sincerely grateful to Professor Cristina Ayoub Riche, President, Latin American Institute of the Ombudsman, for inviting me to address this very important event and for allowing me to join in this celebration of Berta Cáceres - her life, her courage and her achievements and the extraordinary contribution of all the indigenous peoples throughout Latin America. The Latin America region, and its Ombudsman, Public Defenders and Human Rights Institutions are admired around the world for their passionate defence of the rights of women, the protection of the environment and for the fundamental human rights of the most vulnerable citizens” said President Field, “You have long had my utmost admiration and, in turn, you have humbled me with your great support for my role as the President of the International Ombudsman Institute.”



President greets delegates at the international conference commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the office of the State Comptroller and Ombudsman of Israel

Chris Field, President of the International Ombudsman Institute and Western Australian Ombudsman, provided an opening greeting to delegates at the international conference on Advancing the Rights of the Elderly in an Age of Longevity, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the State Comptroller and Ombudsman of Israel.

President Field followed the President of the State of Israel, Isaac Herzog and Speaker of the Knesset, Mickey Levy in providing his greeting. Opening greetings were also provided by the President of the Association of Mediterranean Ombudsman and Ombudsman of Greece, Andreas Pottakis; State Comptroller and Ombudsman of Israel, Matanyahu Englman; Secretary General of the International Ombudsman Institute and Member of the Austrian Ombudsman Board, Werner Amon. A lecture was provided by keynote speaker, Chairwoman, Chief Technology Officer and founder of Diagnostic Robotics, Dr Kira Radinsky. Lady Globes magazine, “one of the leading financial magazines in Israel, selected Dr. Radinsky, when Chief Scientist and Director of Data Science for eBay Israel, as ‘Woman of the Year’. Dr. Radinsky was atop a distinguished list of the 50 most influential women in Israel.”

President Field told conference participants that: “It is a great privilege and honour to join you in commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the office of the State Comptroller and Ombudsman of Israel. It is an extraordinary testament indeed to the wisdom of the Knesset five decades ago that we are here today to celebrate this anniversary.”

“The institution of the Ombudsman upholds the great principles of democracy, human rights, good governance and the rule of law. Upon reaching this significant milestone, I take this opportunity to thank the office of the Ombudsman of Israel for championing these principles for half a century. Your work in service of the Knesset, the citizens of Israel and the global institution of the Ombudsman is deeply valued” said President Field.



President addresses the Caribbean Ombudsman Association webinar on how to be effective as a small Ombuds institution

Chris Field, President of the International Ombudsman Institute, addressed the Caribbean Ombudsman Association webinar How to be effective as a small Ombuds institution, on 25 November 2021.

“I am sincerely grateful to Dr Rosemary Husbands-Mathurin, Parliamentary Commissioner for Saint Lucia and President, Caribbean Ombudsman Association, and Rienier van Zutphen, National Ombudsman of the Netherlands, for inviting me to address this very important event” said President Field.

President Field told webinar participants that: “I recognise and respect the powerful nature of small Ombuds offices in the services they provide. No matter the size of an Ombuds institution, it is, in its national or subnational context, a bulwark against the misuse of the power of the state against its citizens, a protector of the basic dignities and fundamental human rights of our most vulnerable citizens, a promoter of the rule of law and democracy and a proactive agent for change so that governments continue to serve its citizens in the most fair, just and effective way. Where the significant powers of the institution of the Ombudsman are used with vision, with purpose and with passion, small Ombuds institutions can be transformative in terms of their impact on government administration and service delivery, and ultimately, the lives of citizens.”



President speaks at the Ukranian Network of Integrity and Compliance panel discussion "Compliance as a necessary component of investment protection in Ukraine", November 2021

Chris Field, President of the International Ombudsman Institute, joined a Ukrainian Network of Integrity and Compliance (UNIC) panel discussion "Compliance as a necessary component of investment protection in Ukraine", on 17 November 2021, as part of the Ukraine Business Integrity Month.

President Field was particularly pleased to speak alongside Vasyl Lozynskiy, the First Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Regional Development in the panel discussion moderated by Tetyana Korotka, Deputy Business Ombudsman in Ukraine.

  President Field and Deputy Business Ombudsman Korotka

President Field discussed the role of the International Ombudsman Institute and the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly, in December 2020, of the resolution, The role of Ombudsman and mediator institutions in the promotion and protection of human rights, good governance and the rule of law as the new global standard for Ombudsman institutions. He emphasised the fundamental importance of the rule of law and good governance in creating successful societies. He indicated that, in any country, the observance of the rule of law, good governance, integrity and compliance are all necessary pre-conditions to minimising sovereign risk, attracting foreign investment and giving confidence to the private sector in return on capital. He noted that the productive economies that ensue improve the lives of all citizens, including ensuring the greatest means to provide support for the most vulnerable citizens. He further noted that it is vital that states ensure independence of Ombudsman institutions.

“I was delighted, and honoured, to be invited by Antonina Prudko, Head of Secretariat, UNIC, to address this important event. The citizens of the Ukraine are well-served by the excellent work of UNIC and the Business Ombudsman” said Mr Field.

President delivers keynote address at the Plenary Session of the Forum for Institutions Supporting Democracy inaugural Virtual Conference on Constitutional Democracy, November 2021

The President of the International Ombudsman Institute, Chris Field, was honoured to be invited by Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, Public Protector South Africa and Chair, Forum for Institutions Supporting Democracy, to deliver a Keynote Address at the Plenary Session of the Forum for Institutions Supporting Democracy inaugural Virtual Conference on Constitutional Democracy, The need for collaboration on the promotion of good governance and ethical leadership in responding to the impact of Covid 19 and corruption on constitutional democracy, held in South Africa on 11 November 2021.

Advocate Mkhwebane is an esteemed colleague as a Director of the African Region of the IOI World Board. It was a particular privilege for the President to be able to share the platform with the other keynote speaker, former Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, The Honourable Mogoeng Mogoeng. Mr Werner Amon, Secretary General of the International Ombudsman Institute and Member of the Austrian Ombudsman Board provided Opening Remarks to the Conference.

“As President of the International Ombudsman Institute, it was a great privilege to be invited by the Public Protector South Africa to address the Forum and to be in the presence of agencies of such a range of expertise and experience. It is, in my view, beyond question that the Forum is, and will continue to be, of enormous value to the people of South Africa” said President Field.

“Constitutional democracies are resilient and robust, but this does not mean that they are perfect and it is unlikely that we will ever reach a stage where every single person or institution within the democratic state is completely incorruptible. The Public Protector, and the other agencies who comprise the Forum, are key institutions in promoting and protecting the rule of law, good governance and democracy. Each institution is in its own right powerful, but together when they intervene collaboratively, they represent an even more powerful force again for fundamental honesty, transparency and integrity in the delivery of public service and the expenditure of taxpayer’s money.” said President Field.



Peter Tyndall awarded Honorary Life Membership of the International Ombudsman Institute, November 2021

Peter Tyndall was elected to the IOI Board as European Director in 2012. He held the position of European Regional President for one year, until he was elected IOI 2nd Vice-President in 2014 and IOI President two years later; a position he held until May 2021.

Peter has been highly committed to the institution of the Ombudsman promoting the IOI and its mission, principles and services. He was dedicated to the establishment of internationally recognized universal standards for Ombudsman institutions and he contributed significantly to the development of the Council of Europe’s “Principles for the Protection and Promotion of the Ombudsman Institution”, which are now better known as the Venice Principles. As Chair of the IOI’s UN Working Group, Peter worked tirelessly to ensure that the Venice Principles were strongly endorsed in the amended version of the UN Resolution on the “Role of Ombudsman and Mediator Institutions in the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights, Good Governance and the Rule of Law”, (adopted in December 2020). The international recognition of these universal standards was an important step to strengthen independent and autonomous Ombudsman offices around the world and has ensured that the IOI has become a respected international body.

Peter also made very strong contributions to the affairs of the IOI, including personal stewardship of IOI electoral reform that has resulted in all Voting members in good standing electing the Officers of the IOI (i.e. President, Vice-Presidents and Treasurer), thus making the IOI and the election of its governing body more democratic and transparent in the future. Peter and his office also hosted the 12th IOI World Conference and General Assembly. Peter showed a high level of personal commitment, as well as great flexibility and readiness for organizational change, when the Covid-19 pandemic required that the event be first postponed for a year then held online in May 2021.

“Not only is Peter an extremely warm and good-humoured colleague, he was an exceptionally distinguished President, who transformed the IOI to what it is today. I could wax at Joycean length about Peter, but it simply suffices to say that IOI Life Membership is an honour rarely given and no one has ever been more worthy than our former President, esteemed Ombudsman of both Ireland and Wales and my good friend, Peter Tyndall”, said IOI President Chris Field.

On 15 November 2021 the IOI World Board of Directors therefore approved by acclamation that Mr Peter Tyndall be awarded IOI Honorary Life Membership. Mr Tyndall will resign from the office of the Ombudsman and Information Commissioner of Ireland on 31 December 2021.

President delivers Welcome Address to the working seminar on the Manchester Memorandum, November 2021

Chris Field, President of the International Ombudsman Institute, delivered a Welcome Address to the working seminar on the Manchester Memorandum hosted by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman of the United Kingdom from 9-10 November 2021.

Participants in the working seminar included Andreas Pottakis, President of the European Region of the International Ombudsman Institute, Rob Behrens, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman of the United Kingdom, along with Ombudspersons and representatives of international organisations.

“As President of the International Ombudsman Institute, it was a great privilege to be invited by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman to address the Manchester Memorandum working seminar on the development of national Ombudsman institutions” said President Mr Field.

President Field told seminar participants that: “The matters you will consider in the sessions of this seminar will, I think, be at the very core of the next stage of the development of the Ombudsman institution: How do we reach and assist the most vulnerable and marginalized members of our societies, including first nations peoples?; How do we review and reflect on our own capability and performance, including through the very positive trend of peer review?; and How do we ensure we capture the momentum of both the Venice Principles and the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2020 of the resolution on, “The role of Ombudsman and mediator institutions in the promotion and protection of human rights, good governance and the rule of law”?”

“Through what has been a period of sustained global tragedy and hardship, Ombudsmen have sought to ensure that the rights of the most vulnerable citizens have been upheld wherever and whenever it has been necessary. Emboldened by our continued commitment to defending human rights in any context, empowered by the Venice Principles and ennobled by the UN Resolution, the Manchester Memorandum is an outstanding initiative at exactly the right time.” said President Field.



International Ombudsman Institute Secretary General Amon attends Ombudsman conference in Colombia, October 2021

IOI Secretary General Werner Amon followed an invitation from the Ombudsman of Colombia, Carlos Ernesto Camargo Assis, to participate in an international Ombudsman meeting on “Migration and Refuge – Rights at Risk”, which took place in Cartagena (Columbia) from 19 – 21 October 2021.

The international exchange put a specific focus on the problematic situation of migrants and refugees. Opening remarks were presented by Colombian Ombudsman Camargo Assis and the Ombudsman of Guatemala, Mr Augusto Jordan Rodas Andrade, who attended the meeting in his function as President of the Federation of Ibero-American Ombudsman (FIO).

Secretary General meets colleagues at Cartagena conferenceSecretary General meets colleagues at Cartagena conference

In different plenary sessions and round table discussions, delegates exchanged information and experiences around topics such as human trafficking, labor exploitation, mixed migratory flows with a specific focus on vulnerable groups, as well as the effects of climate change and changing economies.  

IOI Secretary General Werner Amon took the opportunity of this international event to present the IOI and its principles, visions and services. Furthermore, Mr Amon met Colombian President Iván Duque, and exchanged experiences with colleagues and representatives from countries effected by migration flows.

 

President delivers Official Statement on the occasion of the Fifth International Conference on human rights protection in Eurasia, held in Moscow

Chris Field, President of the International Ombudsman Institute and Western Australian Ombudsman, delivered a statement in support of the Fifth International Conference, Human rights protection in Eurasia: exchange of best practices of Ombudspersons, held in Moscow on 12 October. President Field participated in the conference on the invitation of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation, Tatiana Moskalkova.

Participants in the conference included members of the Eurasian Ombudsman Alliance, Human Rights Commissioners, Ombudspersons, representatives of international organisations, public authorities and non-government organisations.

“As President of the International Ombudsman Institute, it gives me great pleasure to offer my strong support to the success of the Fifth International Conference on human rights protection in Eurasia” said Mr Field.

“This Conference, by ensuring an examination of human rights protection by a wide range of institutions, drawn from many countries, represents the very best way for us to advance our collective understanding, and collaborative work, to support human rights in Eurasia and globally.”

The President’s Official Statement can be found here.

The statement has been published by the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation and can be found here.

President attends virtual presentation of the 2020 Annual Report of the Human Rights Commission of Mexico City

Chris Field, President of the International Ombudsman Institute and Western Australian Ombudsman, attended the virtual presentation of the 2020 Annual Report of the Human Rights Commission of Mexico City on 29 June. President Field was invited as a special guest to the presentation by the President of the Human Rights Commission of Mexico City, Ms Nashieli Ramírez Hernández.

The virtual presentation was held in the presence of the Head of Government of Mexico City, the President of the Superior Court of Justice of Mexico City, the members of the Human Rights Commission of Congress and representatives from civil society organisations. The presentation also included a speech by Dr Raúl Lamberto, Ombudsman of the Province of Santa Fe and Regional President, IOI Caribbean and Latin America region.

“The Human Rights Commission of Mexico City undertakes extraordinary work for the people of Mexico and it was a great privilege to attend this event” said Mr Field.

President addresses opening ceremony of the Third Latin American Congress on Restorative Justice

Chris Field, President of the International Ombudsman Institute and Western Australian Ombudsman, delivered an opening address to the 3rd Latin American Restorative Justice Congress. The Congress was held over three days, with more than 60 presenters from 15 countries, including Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Australia, Honduras, Uruguay, Bolivia, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic and Great Britain. More than 4000 people registered for the Congress.

The President’s address can be found here.

Ombudsman commences term as President of the International Ombudsman Institute

Chris Field, Ombudsman, commenced his four-year term as President of the International Ombudsman Institute on 27 May 2021 at the Closing Ceremony of the 12th quadrennial World Conference of the Institute held (virtually) in Dublin. The Ceremony was attended by the Honourable Gary Gray AO, Australian Ambassador to Ireland. The Institute represents 205 Ombudsman institutions from more than 100 countries.

This marks the first time in the 43-year history of the Institute that an Australian has been elected President. Among his first priorities will be strong engagement with the United Nations following the recent adoption by the General Assembly of the resolution, The role of Ombudsman and mediator institutions in the promotion and protection of human rights, good governance and the rule of law.

Chris is also deeply committed to advancing the strategic, investment, trade and cultural relationships of Western Australia globally, and particularly in the Asia Pacific, a region so vital to Western Australian interests.

His Closing Ceremony address can be found here.

UN Resolution on the Ombudsman Institution

President-elect of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) and Western Australian Ombudsman, Chris Field, has welcomed the United Nations (UN) resolution on the Ombudsman institution, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 16 December 2020.

The resolution was proposed by the Kingdom of Morocco and co-sponsored by 91 countries, including Australia. It represents the culmination of the IOI’s work to develop a closer relationship with the UN, led by Irish Ombudsman Peter Tyndall and President of the IOI. The IOI is the only global organization for the cooperation of independent Ombudsman institutions. The IOI represents over 200 members from more than 100 different countries all over the world and its General Secretariat is provided by the Austrian Ombudsman Board and is based in Vienna.

Peter Tyndall said: “The resolution provides strong endorsement of the Principles on the Protection and Promotion of the Ombudsman Institution - the Venice Principles. It establishes these principles as the new global standard for the Ombudsman”. The Venice Principles, the equivalent of the Paris Principles for National Human Rights Institutions, are 25 principles that protect and promote the Ombudsman institution.

IOI Secretary General and Austrian Ombudsman Werner Amon said: “This is an important step to strengthen independent and autonomous Ombudsman institutions worldwide and to raise awareness at international level for the essential role they play in the protection and promotion of human rights. It confirms and reinforces the importance of a close cooperation of our organization with the UN”.

Chris Field said: “I wish to acknowledge, and sincerely thank, the Australian Government for its support of the resolution”.

Ombudsman elected President of World body

Western Australian Ombudsman, Chris Field, has been elected President of the International Ombudsman Institute (the IOI).  It is the first time in the 42-year history of the IOI that an Australian has been elected President.

The IOI, established in 1978, is the global organisation for the cooperation of 205 independent Ombudsman institutions from more than 100 countries worldwide. The IOI is organised in six regional chapters - Africa, Asia, Australasian and Pacific, Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America and North America.

His appointment also marks the first time that a President has been elected by IOI members. Historically, Presidents were elected by the IOI World Board. A new voting system, applicable for the first time in the 2020 election, provided the opportunity for every IOI member globally to vote for the position of President.

Chris will commence his term as President at the rescheduled 12th World Conference and General Assembly of the IOI in Dublin, Ireland.

Chris will bring significant experience to the role of President. He is currently Australia’s longest serving ombudsman and has previously served on the IOI World Board as Second Vice President between 2016 and 2020, Treasurer between 2014 and 2016 and President of the Australasian and Pacific Ombudsman Region between 2012 and 2014.

In addition to his role as Ombudsman, he concurrently holds the roles of Energy and Water Ombudsman, Chair, State Records Commission and Chair, Accountability Agencies Collaborative Forum (a forum comprised of: the Ombudsman; Chief Psychiatrist; Information Commissioner; Commissioner for Equal Opportunity; Inspector of Custodial Services; Commissioner for Children and Young People;  Director, Health and Disability Services Complaints Office; Director, State Records Office; Director of Equal Opportunity in Public Employment; Chief Mental Health Advocate; and the Commissioner for Victims of Crime).

He has for the last fourteen years been an Adjunct Professor in the School of Law at the University of Western Australia where he teaches the advanced administrative law unit Government Accountability – Law and Practice, a course he founded with Professor Simon Young (co-author of the university textbook Lane and Young, Administrative Law in Australia). Chris is also the author of a range of publications on the ombudsman and administrative law.

Of his appointment as President, Chris said he hoped to “continue the productivity, professionalism and collegiality that have defined the Board’s work and seeking to continue the outstanding leadership provided by his close colleague, current President, Peter Tyndall, Ombudsman and Information Commissioner for Ireland.”

To do so, he will work alongside his IOI World Board colleagues, an Executive Committee of the Board comprised of: himself; First Vice President, Mr Viddhavat Rajatanun, Chief Ombudsman of Thailand; Second Vice President, Ms Diane Welborn, Ombudsman for Dayton and Montgomery County, Ohio; Treasurer, Ms Caroline Sokoni, Public Protector of Zambia; and Regional Presidents for Europe and the Caribbean and Latin America.

Chris will also work closely with Mr. Werner Amon, Austrian Ombudsman and Secretary General of the IOI. The Austrian government generously provides funding to the office of the Austrian Ombudsman to provide a staff secretariat to support the work of the IOI, led by the Secretary General who is also one of three Austrian Ombudsmen.

His goals for his term as President are:

1.

Contribute leadership on behalf of the global ombudsman community with respect to issues that nations face regarding integrity and good governance;

2.

Focus the work of the IOI on promoting access to justice, contributing to the rule of law, advancing human rights, protecting minorities, first peoples and the vulnerable, standing strongly with ombudsmen under threat and supporting developing democracies and emerging ombudsman institutions;

3.

Further develop the IOI’s relationship with the United Nations, including promoting the Venice Principles.  The Venice Principles, adopted by the Venice Commission (the Council of Europe’s Commission for Democracy through Law), represent the first, independent, international set of standards for the Ombudsman institution. They are the equivalent of the United Nation’s Paris Principles which set out the standards against which national human rights institutions are judged; and

4.

Ensure inclusion of every IOI region and member so that all voices are fairly represented and heard.

“I am certainly hopeful that, in my role of President, I can in any way that is appropriate to do so, advance Western Australia’s interests, including with our great friends, trading and cultural partners in the Asia Pacific Region where my office already has longstanding highly positive senior relationships”.   

“As President, I will play one small role, among so many who contribute so much, but any opportunity to serve Western Australia will be an extraordinary honour” said Chris.

Vice President attends International Seminar Commemorating 20th Anniversary of the Establishment of the Ombudsman Thailand, 10 – 15 February 2020

Vice President of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) and Western Australian Ombudsman, Chris Field and Assistant Ombudsman, Rebecca Poole, attended an international seminar from 10 – 15 February 2020 in Bangkok, Thailand. The international seminar, Ombudsman in a Changing World: Resilience amidst Challenges, was hosted by the Chief Ombudsman of Thailand on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Office of the Ombudsman Thailand.

The Ombudsman was a speaker in the first plenary session, Ombudsman in a changing world: paradigm shift and challenges, and chaired the closing plenary session, Future of Ombudsmanship in a changing world: adaptation and cooperation techniques.

While in Thailand, the Ombudsman met with Mr Allan  McKinnon PSM, Australian Ambassador to Thailand, and attended a reception hosted by His Excellency Taha Macpherson, New Zealand Ambassador to Thailand, and Peter Boshier, Chief Ombudsman of New Zealand, to recognise and celebrate the growing role of the Ombudsman in the Asia-Pacific Region. 

 
Vice President Chris Field with General (Ret.) Viddhavat Rajatanun, Chief Ombudsman of Thailand, Mr Somsak Suwansujarit, Ombudsman Thailand, Mr Hilmi Jashari,  Ombudsman of the Republic of Kosovo and Mr Masahiro Shimizu, Director General, Kinki Regional Administrative Evaluation Bureau, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Japan.   Vice President Chris Field with Peter Boshier, Chief Ombudsman of New Zealand and Deborah Glass, Victorian Ombudsman.

 

Western Australian Ombudsman and Chief Ombudsman of Thailand sign Memorandum of Understanding on Bilateral Cooperation between the Ombudsman Thailand and the Ombudsman Western Australia, September 2019

Second Vice President of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) and Western Australian Ombudsman, Chris Field, welcomed the Chief Ombudsman of Thailand, General Viddhavat Rajatanun, who led a high level delegation from the Office of the Ombudsman Thailand, to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Bilateral Cooperation between the Ombudsman Thailand and the Ombudsman Western Australia.

The Chief Ombudsman of Thailand was accompanied by Mr Boon Tapanadul, Ombudsman, Mr Somsak Suwansujarit, Ombudsman, and Mr Raksagecha Chaechai, Secretary-General. The MOU on Bilateral Cooperation was the first such agreement for the Ombudsman Western Australia and the first outside of Asia for the Ombudsman Thailand.

The signing of the MOU on Bilateral Cooperation marks a significant step toward closer cooperation and collaboration between the two Ombudsman institutions and fosters further international cooperation in the field of complaint-handling, good governance and Ombudsmanship. During the delegation’s visit to Perth, formal bilateral discussions were held between the Ombudsman Thailand and the Ombudsman Western Australia and an official high-level program of visits was undertaken to other Western Australian integrity agencies.

“The signing of the MOU on Bilateral Cooperation further strengthens the great friendship between our offices, but also the very positive highly valued and important relationship between Western Australia and Thailand.” said Mr. Field.

 
Vice President Field and Chief Ombudsman Rajatanun at the signing ceremony.   Vice President Field and Chief Ombudsman Rajatanun at the signing ceremony.
 
Vice President Field and Chief Ombudsman Rajatanun at the signing ceremony.   Vice President Field and Chief Ombudsman Rajatanun with senior representatives from the Ombudsman Thailand and the Ombudsman Western Australia.

 

Vice President attends 30th Australasian and Pacific Ombudsman Region Conference, 27 November - 1 December 2018

Vice President of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) and Western Australian Ombudsman, Chris Field and Assistant Ombudsman National and International Relations, Rebecca Poole, attended the 30th Australasian and Pacific Ombudsman Region Conference in Auckland, New Zealand. The conference was themed Holding governments to account in a changing climate and was hosted by the Chief Ombudsman of New Zealand.

The Vice President addressed the conference on the IOI’s perspectives on the major themes of the conference – the role of the Ombudsman in a time of political and social change and the response of nation states and Ombudsmen to climate change. Mr Peter Tyndall, IOI President and Ombudsman and Information Commissioner for Ireland and Mr Günther Kräuter, IOI Secretary General and Ombudsman, Austrian Ombudsman Board attended the Conference, in addition to Australian Ombudsmen, the Hong Kong Ombudsman, the Control Yuan and Ombudsman from the Pacific Island nations of the Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.

The Conference was part of a three day program that included a Business Meeting, training and an official side event. Training was provided on leading effective change and on monitoring places of detention to ensure the human rights of detainees are upheld as part of the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT).   

Delegates at 30th APOR Conference
Vice President Chris Field, IOI President Peter Tyndall and Control Yuan President Dr Po Ya Chang.
Ombudsman Field 30th APOR Conference
Vice President Chris Field addresses the Conference.
Ombudsman Field welcomed to NZ for 30th APOR Conference
Vice President Chris Field is welcomed by a representative of the Auckland iwi (tribe) Ngati Whatua with a hongi.

 

Ombudsman attends quadrennial conference of the European region of the IOI, 1-3 October 2018

Ombudsman and Vice President of the International Ombudsman Institute (the IOI), Chris Field, attended the quadrennial conference of the European Region of the IOI in Brussels from 1-3 October 2018. The conference, The Ombudsman in an open and participatory society, was hosted by Catherine De Bruecker and Guido Herman, the Federal Ombudsman of Belgium, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Office of the Federal Ombudsman. The conference also included a ceremony on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the IOI.

The Conference, held at the Hemicycle, Senate of the Federal Parliament of Belgium, consisted of three plenary sessions. The Ombudsman chaired the second session, The Ombudsman as a catalyst for citizen participation. The conference was opened by Ms Christine Defraigne, President of the Senate and the conference dinner was addressed by Mr Didier Reynders, Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium and Minister for Foreign Affairs.

While in Brussels, the Ombudsman participated in an Executive Committee meeting of the World Board of the IOI and met with Mr Justin Brown PSM Australian Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg, the European Union and NATO, and on 4 October in Dublin, met with Mr Peter Tyndall, Ombudsman and Information Commissioner for Ireland and President of the IOI (and host of the 2020 World Conference of the IOI) and Mr Richard Andrews, Australian Ambassador to Ireland. 

Federal Parliament of Belgium
The quadrennial conference of the European Region of the IOI, held at the Hemicycle, Senate of the Federal Parliament of Belgium.
Ombudsman Field Belgium Conference
Western Australian Ombudsman and Second Vice President of the IOI, Chris Field, addresses the Conference.

 

OECD report on the role of ombudsman institutions, 5 September 2018

The Organisation for Economic Development (OECD) has released a major report, The Role of Ombudsman Institutions in Open Government.  The Report, based on data from 94 ombudsman institutions in 65 countries, is the first of its kind as it documents the role of ombudsman institutions to the heart of the global open government agenda and provides concrete policy recommendations to strengthen their role in it.

“The OECD is to be congratulated for producing a very valuable report on the institution  of the Ombudsman, particularly in relation to open and good government” said Western Australian Ombudsman and Second Vice President of the International Ombudsman Institute Chris Field. “I am very pleased that my office has contributed to this valuable and important work, which recognises the ombudsman institution as a central pillar of open and accountable government.  It is humbling that the work of our office is exemplified on a number of occasions in the report.”

Second Vice President addresses Plenary Meeting of the Control Yuan, 13-17 August 2018

Second Vice President of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI), Western Australian Ombudsman Chris Field, recently visited the Control Yuan in Taiwan. The Control Yuan is one of five branches of government (the others being the Legislative Yuan, the Judicial Yuan, the Executive Yuan and the Examination Yuan).

The Control Yuan is also a longstanding member of the IOI. The IOI, established in 1978, is the only global organisation for the cooperation of more than 190 independent Ombudsman institutions from more than 100 countries worldwide. The IOI is organised in six regional chapters (Africa, Asia, Australasia & Pacific, Europe, the Caribbean & Latin America and North America). The IOI is governed by a World Board of which the Ombudsman is the Second Vice President.

  Second Vice President Chris Field and Control Yuan President Dr Po Ya Chang
Second Vice President Chris Field and
Control Yuan President Dr Po Ya Chang
   
 

As a central part of this visit, the Second Vice President was extended the privilege of addressing the chamber of the Control Yuan in a plenary session on 14 August. The Ombudsman’s address was titled The role of the Ombudsman in promoting good governance and protecting human rights.

The Ombudsman was accompanied on the visit by IOI Director and Chief Ombudsman of New Zealand, Peter Boshier. The Chief Ombudsman gave an address titled The growing importance of leadership codes in the Pacific. The Chief Ombudsman’s address was followed by a question and answer session between both Ombudsman and the Members of the Control Yuan.

  Second Vice President Chris Field and Director Boshier meeting the National Audit Office
Second Vice President Chris Field and
Director Boshier meeting the
National Audit Office

During his visit the Ombudsman and Chief Ombudsman were also received by the Agency Against Corruption, the National Audit Office and the Taipei City Government 1999 Citizen Hotline Call Centre.

“Engagement, sharing and friendship between Ombudsman, and other institutions of good governance around the world, deepens all of our work for Parliaments and citizens” said the Ombudsman.

  Second Vice President Chris Field speaking at the Agency Against Corruption
Second Vice President Chris Field speaking at the Agency Against Corruption

“Our visit will enrich and enliven our work in our own countries, but also the contributions that we can make to the international community”.

 

Ombudsman attends IOI World Board meeting in Toronto and United Nations in New York, 30 April – 3 May 2018

In April 2018, the Ombudsman attended a meeting of the World Board of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) in Toronto, Canada.

The IOI, established in 1978, is the only global organisation for the cooperation of more than 190 independent Ombudsman institutions from more than 100 countries worldwide. The IOI is organised in six regional chapters (Africa, Asia, Australasia & Pacific, Europe, the Caribbean & Latin America and North America). The IOI is governed by a World Board of which the Ombudsman is the Second Vice President.

Immediately prior to the meeting of the World Board of the IOI in Toronto, the Ombudsman attended the United Nations (UN) in New York to participate in a formal event between the IOI and the UN hosted by Ambassador Jan Kickert, Permanent Representative of Austria to the UN and Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason, Permanent Representative of Ireland to the UN.

The event also included recognition of the 40th anniversary of the IOI and was followed by IOI delegates being received at the Austrian Ambassador’s residence, attended by a number of Permanent Representatives to the UN, including Her Excellency Gillian Bird, Permanent Representative of Australia to the UN. The Ombudsman also attended the offices of the Australian Mission to the UN and met with Her Excellency to discuss IOI work with the UN.

Western Australian Ombudsman hosted the 29th Australasian and Pacific Ombudsman Region Conference in Perth, November 2017

Perth hosted international and interstate delegates from Ombudsman institutions in the Australasian and Pacific region in November 2017. The 29th Australasian and Pacific Ombudsman Region Conference was themed Connections in our Australasian-Pacific Region.

The Australasian and Pacific Ombudsman Region (APOR) is a chapter of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI). The IOI, established in 1978, is the global organisation for the cooperation of more than 170 independent Ombudsman institutions from more than 90 countries worldwide. Members of APOR include ombudsmen from the Commonwealth and every state and territory of Australia, the New Zealand Ombudsman, Hong Kong Ombudsman, the Control Yuan, Taiwan and Ombudsman from the Pacific Island nations of the Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, the Kingdom of Tonga and Vanuatu.

“The Conference explored the present and future challenges and opportunities for the institution of the Ombudsman in the Australasian and Pacific Region in enhancing citizens’ redress, undertaking major investigations intended to improve the administration of the laws of Parliament, supporting the rule of law as well as working collaboratively with developing nations in our region”, said the Western Australian Ombudsman Mr Chris Field. “As Second Vice President of the IOI and Ombudsman of Western Australia, I was absolutely delighted to welcome my valued colleagues to our wonderful city and great state.”

Importantly, the Conference included a session on engagement with First Peoples. “This session considered the criticality of service delivery and engagement by Ombudsman offices that comprehensively acknowledges, deeply respects and fully supports the unique history, culture and circumstances of First Peoples”, said Mr Field.

The Conference was part of a three day program, commencing with delegates being welcomed to Western Australia at a Reception at Parliament House hosted by the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, the Honourable Peter Watson MLA on Monday 27 November 2017, followed by the Conference on Tuesday 28 November and a business meeting and optional investigations training program on Wednesday 29 November.

Click here to view the program, presentations and photos from the Conference

Starter Kit for new ombudsmen and developing or expanding offices, May 2016

On 3 May 2016, Mr Chris Field, International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) Treasurer and Western Australian Ombudsman, launched a Starter kit for new ombudsmen and developing or expanding offices (Starter Kit) at the 2016 Australasian and Pacific Ombudsman Region (APOR) Conference held in Melbourne.

The Starter Kit is a project funded by the IOI through its regional subventions project, and jointly undertaken by the offices of the Western Australian Ombudsman and New South Wales Ombudsman.

The objective of the project was to provide a highly accessible, web-based induction tool for newly appointed Ombudsmen utilising the knowledge and experience of existing Ombudsmen, and a resource for those offices who are undergoing an expansion of functions or dealing with novel or challenging issues.

The Starter Kit is an online collection of information and documents on a range of topics relevant to Ombudsman offices. Topics covered by the Starter Kit fall into four broad areas: Core Principles for an Ombudsman Institution; Governance and Office Management; Complaints and Investigations; and Stakeholder Engagement.

“We proposed to create a comprehensive resource for new Ombudsmen or developing or expanding Ombudsman offices that would draw upon the collective expertise and experience of APOR Members,” said Mr Field.

“I am delighted to be able to launch a project that provides a rich library of very helpful information in one central place that I believe will be a valuable ongoing and living resource for all APOR Members and their offices.”

In launching the Starter Kit, Mr Field observed that “I am also pleased, and excited, that the Starter Kit will be made available to all IOI members – further enhancing the value of the Starter Kit and the assistance that is able to be provided to new Ombudsmen taking office all around the world and those who are considering the expansion of functions for their offices.”

Changes to the Starter Kit are coordinated by the office of the Western Australian Ombudsman.

APOR Members can access the Starter Kit through the member area of the IOI website: www.theioi.org/member-area.

Ombudsman elected President of the Australasian and Pacific Ombudsman Region, November 2012

Western Australian Ombudsman Chris Field was recently elected President of the Australasian & Pacific Ombudsman Region and a Director of the Board of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI). The Australasian and Pacific Ombudsman Region consists of Australia, China/Hong Kong, Cook Islands, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Taiwan, Tonga and Vanuatu. Mr Field will be joined on the Board of the IOI by Ombudsmen drawn from around the world, including the Chief Ombudsman of New Zealand, the National Ombudsman of the Netherlands, the Parliamentary Ombudsman of Sweden, the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, United Kingdom and the Ombudsman for Namibia.

At the recent International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) World Conference, the Ombudsman delivered an address titled, The Western Australian Integrity Coordinating Group. Read the Ombudsman’s Address.

To read more about the work of the IOI, go to http://www.theioi.org.