A Western King and an Ancient Notion: Reflections on the Origins of Ombudsing
The ombuds idea has taken root around the globe providing critical protection for citizens in public, private and social sectors. Contemporary ombudsing is a unique practice which provides a rare, often fair-minded mechanism of protection for the individual with a grievance. The seeds of this modern idea may be found in ancient world cultures as well as Scandinavian history. An early version of the idea appears in a decree creating a Highest Ombudsman signed by Swedish King Charles XII in 1713, notably while he was living in exile in Turkey, during which time Sweden was in turmoil. Sometimes mechanisms for peace emerge from conflict. The modern ombuds office is often pivotal in addressing and reducing bureaucracy and conflict. As ombudsing continues to grow worldwide, as ombudsing as a human rights mechanism expands, as visitors to the ombuds office represent many world cultures, recognizing the multicultural influences and antecedents to ombudsing may deepen the international dialogue. The aim of improving governance is integral to modern ombudsing, and this aim may even be seen in the creation of the earliest Highest Ombudsman, today in Sweden existing as the Chancellor of Justice. The shift in the ombudsing function between 1713 and 1809 and thereafter, illuminates the development of the role against the backdrop of history. Early versions of the idea included protection of individuals as well as aims of good governance. For the Parliamentary Ombudsman and contemporary
models, independence and integrity are core components of the office. With the growth of ombudsing across sectors, continued reflection on patterns of power, governance, accountability and culture may prove fruitful.
The texts published in this journal are – unless indicated otherwise – covered by the Creative Commons Spain Attribution 3.0 licence. You may copy, distribute, transmit and adapt the work, provided you attribute it (authorship, journal name, publisher) in the manner specified by the author(s) or licensor(s). The full text of the licence can be consulted here: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/es/deed.en.