Trayectoria profesional, académica, los cargos que ha desempeñado en la función pública, su trayectoria internacional, el detallede las conferencias que ha pronunciado en el país y en el exterior, sus publicaciones y en particular, información sobre Derechos Humanos, Ombudsman, Defensor del Pueblo, derecho al desarrollo, derechos de usuarios y consumidores, globalización y su actividad profesional actual.

Irán

"El Instituto Internacional del Ombudsman. Su función de coordinación con los Ombudsman del mundo", pronunciada en la 4ta. Conferencia de Ombudsman de Asia, Teherán, 10 de mayo de 1999.

 

El Instituto Internacional del Ombudsman. Su función de coordinación con los Ombudsman del mundo

IV CONFERENCE OF THE ASIAN OMBUDSMAN ASSOCIATION (A.O.A.)

Tehran, May 9, 1999
Dr. Jorge Luis Maiorano
Defensor del Pueblo of the Argentine Nation
President of the International Ombudsman Institute


Mr. Head of the General Inspection Organisation of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mr. Sayyid Ebrahim Ra’iesse, Members of the Asian Ombudsman Association -AOA-, distinguished colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen:

When I participated of the third Conference of the Asian Ombudsman Association, hosted by my dear friend, the High Commissioner Against Corruption and Administrative Illegality of Macao, Dr. Luis de Mendonça Freitas, I did so as Vice President of the International Ombudsman Institute.

It is Heaven’s desire that, now, for the celebration of the Fourth Conference of the Asian Ombudsman Association, who is talking to you today may do so as I.O.I. President elected during the Board of Directors’ Meeting held in Pakistan in October nineteen ninety-eight.

For this reason, in the name of all the Ombudsmen and other members of the Institute, I wish to express the host and the A.O.A. Board my deepest appreciation for the possibility you are offering me to pronounce these words during the opening ceremony of such a relevant event for the Ombudsmen of this Region and, certainly, for the peoples they serve.

The Institution of the Ombudsman has been developing throughout history, answering to the demands of the societies. Thus, its profile was adapted to the control, supervision and inspection functions.

Until the mid seventies, the Ombudsman was committed solely to the control of the administrative legality, including discretionality and arbitrariness. It was and it is the Ombudsman who handled all issues related to “maladministration”.

But the Ombudsman exceeded the straight boundaries imposed to this figure in its original version, which was expressed in the nineteen seventy-eight Spanish Constitution which entrusted the Defensor del Pueblo (People’s Defender) with the protection of basic rights.

This new conception of the Ombudsman figure did not take long to be incorporated in the legal frameworks of the recent Latin American democracies, which were in need of an organ of control of the basic rights and guarantees that the citizens had been vested with, upon the beginning of democracy.

The golden rule of the democratic constitutional systems is that every power enlargement must be followed by the strengthening of the means of control and oversight. The maintenance of this equation clearly depends on the balance of the relationship between the society and the State.

These relationships between the society and the State are the ones that motivate our intervention, because the Ombudsman is the connection between the peoples and their government. He is a mediator that conciliates the interests of the citizens and the State, the suffering of the weak before the powerful, sufferings that do not recognise territorial limits and are object of our intervention because they affect the social fibre of the communities we serve.

One of the principal aims of any State is to satisfy the material and moral needs of its citizens, that is to say, to obtain public welfare.

In order to comply with such an aim, control and oversight are invariably required; not to look for deficiencies or defects, but to search solutions for the people in waiting, with the object to assure that the actions and decisions taken by the Administration are neither bureaucratic nor inappropriate.

The globalization, besides the beneficent effects, contributes to the spreading of non beneficent effects, among which corruption can be referred to. This phenomenon is neither new nor exclusive of a weak or backward group of nations but, on the contrary, it is an open wound in most or almost all countries, no matter whether they are rich or poor, developing or developed.

Of course, this does not sound like a good excuse nor an absolutely satisfactory explanation, but I do understand the huge difficulties that governments face when they try to stop or limit the causes of this wound so difficult to heal.

What I meant when I recently referred to this open wound is that this corruption injury is actually eroding the very foundations of some societies.

Thus, besides the Ombudsman’s development, he has a potential of self-growth and can be created in any place where the circumstances and the place are ready to receive him. That is the reason why societies resorted to this Institution in order to win the battle against corruption.

So the introduction of the control process carried out by the Ombudsman, an Institution which has historically evolved by the two aforementioned stages (“maladministration” and control of human rights) again gave evidence of permeability and adaptability.

Numerous States, principally from Asia and Africa did not hesitate to resort to the prestigious and renowned Ombudsman Institution persuaded that the dimension and scope of the Administration must keep a strict proportion with the dimension and scope of the organisms of control, supervision or inspection.

Though this figure had not originally been designed to fulfil this function, it is a suitable tool to promote civilian participation and the information of governmental actions. It also became an effective means in the fight against corruption, supervising the activity of the State, from inside the State.

In spite of this new scope of competence assigned to the Ombudsman, the initial profile of the Institution was not modified.

In effect, the figure was always characterised by its profile of a critical collaborator of the Administration, not his flashy contradictor. So whenever he can, he must use the policy of mediation between the Administration and the citizens. He must help to solve particular problems lodged by the complainants, but always considering that those problems are symptoms or effects of causes which are surely more serious than the particular problems he must try to solve.

In other words, control and oversight must be based on the fulfilment of concrete aims, for example, the adoption of administrative policies tending to a better efficiency in the behaviour and procedures of the Executive of each State.

The concepts of public oversight and control are as ancient as the human beings and, from a scientific perspective, they go beyond the classic approach based on the search of mistakes and defects in the individuals, in order to propose a more adequate concept to concentrate all the available resources to obtain a better administration, at a lower cost and with the best possible benefits.

As a matter of fact, the Ombudsman tries to eliminate the causes of inefficiency and the unnecessary bureaucratic impediments, inadequate administration, fraud, corruption in government, thus obtaining the highest ethic levels by adopting, filing and implementing preventive measures.

The ordinary citizen does not always obtain solutions pursuant to the acts in force by the administrative authorities, being arbitrarily treated or a victim of corruption.

In this aspect, the control and inspection function of the Ombudsman is a fundamental basis for the conduction of the national issues.

In the exercise of these functions, the Ombudsman compares what should have been done with what was really done, analyses and evaluates the present and past procedures. Once this comparison is made, he rectifies those he considers are wrong or incorrect and implements urgent resources in order to achieve the desired objectives.

The contact with the crude daily reality and the relation with the citizens’ dissatisfactions make the Ombudsman an institution that must work with objectivity but with partiality.

He lives with the injustice generated by the excesses or abuses of power. He cannot be distant nor impartial towards this situation.

The experience in the daily exercise of this function has taught me, for example, that people need the Ombudsman precisely due to the defenceless situation which they are exposed to every day by the abuses of any kind of power.

The people are million of anonymous persons who are generally in the periphery at the moment of taking public decisions, who are not considered in that moment but unfortunately are taken into account at the moment of the ballot.

In the world, the Ombudsman is a concrete, effective reality and this is also evidenced by its recent incorporation in the legal rulings of the Asian countries, where it can show its accomplishments with legitimate pride.

The inexcusable reference of the Ombudsman is the noble institution with Norse origin; in its generalised diffusion, it has usually been created based on this original model with some slight differences. This distinction shows the maturity, evolution and permeability of the institution before the several requirements of the society.

Now, the Institution of the Ombudsman faces the new challenges of twenty first century, with the wisdom of knowing that it was born in the last century, and has grown in the second half of the present century and matured together with its evolution.

The International Ombudsman Institute has a lot to offer to the States that decide to create the figure.

But due to the situation of the new democracies, their governors occasionally incur in the abusive exercise of power. So the Ombudsmen must seek the support of the international community of Ombudsmen.

In order to contribute to the strengthening of the International Ombudsman Institute, the fifth International Conference held in Vienna, Austria in October ninety ninety-two highlighted the need to appear before the international organisms for the control and fulfilment of human rights, indicating the existence of different forums to resort to.

Among these forums, there are for example, besides the national and regional associations of Ombudsmen, the United Nations through its Human Rights Commission and the International Co-ordination Committee of National Institution for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and the specific association, UNESCO, through its Program of the Culture of Peace.

This program appeared as an answer to the report named “A Peace Program” submitted by the General Secretary of the United Nations to the Security Council in June seventeenth, nineteen ninety-two.

The Action Program to Promote the Culture of Peace was adopted in the Final Declaration of the sixth International Conference of the International Ombudsman Institute, which I had the honour to host in Buenos Aires in October nineteen ninety-six, and which was enhanced by the participation of many of you here. In its fourth point, at the request of UNESCO, the Declaration of Antigua Guatemala on the Culture of Peace and Human Rights was accepted.

Based on these ideas, I chair the International Ombudsman Institute Presidency, being the first occasion in which a non classic Ombudsman is the President of this Organisation which, since its creation, was successively chaired by the following Ombudsmen: Mr. Ulf Lundvik from Scandinavia from nineteen seventy-eight to nineteen eighty-five; Dr. Bernard Frank from the United States from nineteen eighty-five to nineteen eighty-seven; Mr. Stephen Owen from Canada from nineteen eighty-eight to nineteen ninety-two; Sir John Robertson from New Zealand from nineteen ninety-two to nineteen ninety-four and Dr. Marten Oosting from The Netherlands from nineteen ninety-four to nineteen ninety-eight.

Moreover, I would like to share with those of you who are not members of the International Ombudsman Institute that, as President, I have fostered the execution of a Memorandum of Understanding with UNESCO, that without prejudice to the International Ombudsman Institute and without financial implications for the Institute, will be aimed to begin a collaboration relationship with both Institutions in order to promote the Institution of the Ombudsman.

In this order of ideas, I have the honour of being the first International Ombudsman Institute President who participated as such in the fifty-fifth Session of the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations Organisation held last April in Geneva.

During said event, the task carried out by the International Ombudsman Institute was mentioned, emphasising the daily task of the Ombudsman committed to the people’s rights. Moreover, the High Commissioner for the Human Rights of the United Nations has allowed the International Ombudsman Institute to spread its activities during the meeting.

Today, the Ombudsman is not a luxury of the developed societies; he is an evident need that forms part of the “institutional landscape” indispensable for the efficient defense of the rights of the people.

The institutional strengthening of the Ombudsman obtains a basic sense, in relation to the people’s rights not only with the fundamental aim to consider the basic and ultimate value of the human dignity but also in compliance of other fundamental values that constitute the present axiological horizon: peace and the sustainable development of peoples.

As President, I would like to start a new period in the International Ombudsman Institute’s life, based on a solidary and pluralist perspective towards the diffusion and strengthening of the figure of the Ombudsman around the world.

As a matter of fact, the International Ombudsman Institute is at the service of its members and of all those Institutions that would like to become a member, so that we can strengthen our relationships and share our common interests.

The International Ombudsman Institute can not be limited to the organisation of International Conferences, to the edition of different publications or to the eventual financial support to the host of a workshop.

Just as the Institute’s Secretary, Daniel Jacoby wisely said: “... it is important for the I.O.I. not to stay on the dock but also get on board.”

I would add that the I.O.I. cannot be static because it must be adapted to the changes with the same quickness as the Ombudsman develops in the world.

Thus, as President of the International Ombudsman Institute, I persuade you to accompany me in this new period, placing the I.O.I. at the service of all its members and those who would like to become new members.

We must not forget that the International Ombudsman Institute is formed by Ombudsmen and the Ombudsman is, in essence, an Institution that promotes changes to improve people’s way of life.

We must bear in mind that Asia is the largest continent. Then, you, my dear friends of the Asian Ombudsman Association, have the noble mission to control the rights of the two thirds of the human beings living in our planet.

I have the pleasure of informing you that on May 4, I received a letter from the State Inspection of Vietnam, Mr. Ta Huu Thanh requesting the Membership of the Institution under his charge in the IOI. This decision is highly positive for it will contribute to the strengthening of the Ombudsman Institution in the Asian Region.

Adding the importance that Asia represents by its social, economic and cultural perspectives, we can also say that this continent will attract the attention of the whole world during the next century.

So this will demand you to double the commitment assumed by the creation of the Asian Ombudsman Association as a forum the aim of which is the promotion of the Ombudsman Institution and the improvement of the mechanisms used for the search of a better way of life in the management of the public sector.

Finally, I would like to congratulate my colleagues of the Asian Region since, in virtue of their effective daily work, the development of the figure of the Ombudsman is justified and is shown in the creation of the Association that gathers all of us today in Tehran in its fourth Conference.

Dr. Jorge Luis Maiorano