SA Military Ombud to host international ombud conference


South Africa will from 29 to 31 October host the 10th International Conference of Ombud Institutions for the Armed Forces (ICOAF) at Emperor’s Palace in Kempton Park near Johannesburg.

The conference is hosted in collaboration with the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), under the theme “The evolving roles and responsibilities of the armed forces and the implications for ombuds institutions”.

ICOAF gathers representatives of ombuds institutions for the armed forces from over 50 countries around the world. It was established in 2009 with the aim of developing best practices relating to the mandate, powers and functioning of these institutions, the SA Military Ombud said.

The topics to be discussed at the conference will include:

The evolving roles and responsibilities of the armed forces and the implications for ombuds institutions

The armed forces in domestic security: implications for ombuds institutions

Crisis response (natural disasters and health crises): implications for ombuds institutions

Border security and migration: implications for ombuds institutions

The armed forces as peacekeepers and peace-enforcers: implications for ombuds institutions

Africa’s current and future context analysis

The role of armed forces engagements and existing military ombuds framework

Towards Agenda 2063: mapping areas for strategic cooperation and collaboration

The key outcome of the conference will be policy recommendations and a conference statement that attempts to link the promotion of oversight of armed forces in Africa and the responsibility to protect human rights and dignity.

The last day of the conference is dedicated to Africa Day celebrations in a form of a panel discussion under the theme, “Advancing the Narrative of External Oversight over the Armed Forces in Africa”.

South Africa, being the only African country with a Military Ombud Office, will use the “Africa Day” session of the 10th ICOAF to motivate and encourage the rest of the continent to institute the military ombud concept from their own perspectives.

The South African Military Ombud is an institution that was established in terms of the Military Ombud Act, Act 4 of 2012 to investigate complaints lodged in writing by a member and former members of South African National Defence Force (SANDF) regarding their conditions of service.

The Office also investigates complaints brought by members of the public against SANDF members on their official conduct.