On 25 May 2021 the IOI General Assembly was held by virtual means and hosted by the Office of the Irish Ombudsman Peter Tyndall. The General Assembly brought together 130 IOI member institutions to hear presentations from the IOI Board of Directors on the organization’s services, development and achievements in the past years and to adopt two major reform to the IOI By-laws, in order to guarantee that the IOI becomes a more inclusive, transparent and democratic organization.
Outgoing President Peter Tyndall and IOI Secretary General Werner Amon reported on the IOI’s main achievements of the past few years, such as training provided to members free of charge; the new publication series of Best Practice Papers; the IOI’s analysis of membership progress; or the President’s visits to all of the IOI Regions, which gave him an opportunity to get in touch with members on the ground.
They further presented the work of the IOI’s UN Working Group, the very significant development of the Venice Principles and the adoption of an amended resolution on Ombudsman by the General Assembly of the United Nations in December 2020.
Last but not least, Secretary General Amon gave account on the matter of Ombudsman under threat and how the IOI can lend its support for colleagues, who work under difficult circumstances or come under threat; an issue that sadly remained topical. This presentation was further supported by a remarkable presentation from Prof. Victor Ayeni, who joined the IOI General Assembly and shared his valuable expertise with IOI members.
The most important decisions made by this IOI General Assembly, were the approval and adoption of two very essential sets of reforms, which will ensure that the IOI will become an even more inclusive, transparent and democratic organization.
The IOI Electoral Reform, which already received great support at the last – albeit not quorate – General Assembly in Bangkok in 2016, was now confirmed in Dublin. It is thanks to this reform, which was lead by Irish Ombudsman Peter Tyndall, that the central governing body of the IOI, its Executive Committee consisting of the President, the two Vice-Presidents and the Treasurer, will now be elected by universal suffrage (i.e. by all Voting members) and electronic means. The reform received an overwhelming support of the 2021 General Assembly, with the unanimous approval from member institutions.
Following the debate of the Bangkok General Assembly in 2016, incoming IOI President Chris Field chaired a working group to review the IOI By-laws in relation to some of the matters raised. Together with colleagues from all IOI regions, he developed a set of amendments to the by-laws to meet the concerns and proposals discussed in Bangkok. This set of proposed by-laws amendments received an overwhelming support from the Dublin General Assembly. The amendments will lead to a fairer, more inclusive and more democratic IOI as they ensure better regional representation on the IOI governing bodies, i.e. the Executive Committee and the IOI Board, thus guaranteeing that the IOI’s decision making process becomes more inclusive.
The General Assembly furthermore adopted the Dublin Declaration. True to the theme of the 12th IOI World Conference, “Giving Voice to the Voiceless”, the Dublin Declaration refers to the important contribution Ombudsman make to the UN Agenda 2030, especially the prerequisite of leaving no on behind and ensuring that all persons can fulfil their potential in equality. The declaration also tackles the global challenges we all face due to the Covid-19 and the fact that the pandemic has disproportionately affected persons belonging to vulnerable groups. The declaration therefore calls upon Ombudsman colleagues around the world to continue their good work in supporting those who are most in need of assistance and give a voice to the voiceless.