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(äm`bədzmən) [Swed.,=agent or representative], public official appointed to deal with individual complaints against government acts. The office originated in Sweden in 1809 when the Swedish legislature created a riksdagens justitieombudsman, or parliamentary agent of justice, and in the 20th cent. it has been adopted by a number of countries. As a government agent serving as an intermediary between citizens and the government bureaucracy, the ombudsman is usually independent, impartial, universally accessible, and empowered only to recommend. In the United States the term ombudsman has been used more widely to describe any machinery adopted by private organizations (e.g., large business corporations and universities) as well as by government to investigate complaints of administrative abuses. In 1969, Hawaii became the first of many American states to appoint an ombudsman.


See studies by G. Sawyer (2d ed. 1968), F. Stacey (1978), and D. C. Rowat (2d ed. 1986).



in bourgeois states, an official empowered by the constitution or a special law to oversee the workings of government institutions, ministries, and departments. The position of ombudsman was first provided for in the Swedish Constitution of 1809.

In most countries the ombudsman acts nominally on behalf of the parliament, on the initiative of individuals or legal entities that have approached him. The official title of the position of such a government supervisor varies: for example, in France, intermédiaire, and in Great Britain, New Zealand, and India, “parliamentary commissioner” (plenipotentiary). In some countries there are several ombudsmen, each of whom is assigned a certain sphere of administration (in Sweden, for example, there are civil, military, and consumer ombudsmen). Ombudsmen are elected by parliament or appointed by the head of state. In monitoring the actions of officials in the government apparatus, the ombudsman does not have the right to revoke their decisions, but he can make recommendations. In most countries the ombudsmen’s control is very limited; it does not cover the activities of the government, ministers, foreign-policy departments, the police, or municipal agencies.


1. a commissioner who acts as independent referee between individual citizens and their government or its administration
2. (in Britain) an official, without power of sanction or mechanism of appeal, who investigates complaints of maladministration by members of the public against national or local government or its servants
References in periodicals archive ?
134) British Columbia, Canada Office of the Ombudsperson, Annual Report 2011-12 (British Columbia: Ombudsperson, 2012) at 21-24, 29, 35-36, 39, 44, 46-47, 51-53.
listed individuals and entities as private complainants, on the one hand, and the ombudsperson as an institutionalized agent associated with the UN Secretariat, on the other).
The legislative ombudsperson avoids this defect, but suffers from the obverse problem of being inherently confrontational.
their case to an independent and impartial Ombudsperson, who, after a
The creation of the ombudsperson, however weak the role might currently be, equally deserves to be carefully considered by all other targeted sanctions regimes.
For the use of ombudspersons and special events, cities in the two nations are becoming more alike over time.
The Parliament Ombudsperson examines whether state authorities properly perform their duty to serve the people.
There should be an independent ombudsperson with whom recruits can discuss bullying or other problems.
In 1994, she joined the procurement corporate staff where she handled the procurement training program and became part of the ombudsperson team.
Most ethically progressive companies have an ombudsperson, a hot line or both that allow employees to anonymously report ethical violations.
Since there is no ombudsperson for Aboriginal music issues, it also takes the individual, whether artist, agent, or other affected person or group to ensure accessibility and equitable treatment.