The Board of Directors of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) held its annual meeting from 7 – 11 May 2023. Together with IOI President Chris Field, Ombudsperson and IOI Secretary General Gaby Schwarz welcomed colleagues from around the world at the premises of the Austrian Ombudsman Board in Vienna.
In the meetings, the IOI Board endorsed new training initiatives for IOI members and agreed to continue the successful regional subsidies program to facilitate the implementation of Ombudsman-related projects in the six IOI Regions. Moreover, the Board approved IOI membership for Ombudsman institutions from Africa, Latin America and North America, thus increasing the number of Voting members to a total of 214.
IOI sends signal of solidarity
In addition to organizational matters and strategic priorities, the IOI Board also discussed topical issues of utmost importance. The Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Dymtro Lubinets, was invited to address the Board during its Vienna meeting. Commissioner Lubinets reported how his staff continues to offer a broad range of support and help to the citizens, despite the difficult situation caused by the on-going war. The IOI Board acknowledged the work and commitment of Commissioner Lubinets and re-iterated the IOI’s full support and solidarity with the Office of the Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights.
The Board further highlighted the importance of dialogue for the current human rights situation, not only in Ukraine but also in other parts of the world. Support from the IOI is especially important whenever Ombudsman come under threat in their own countries, or are hindered in the fulfilment of their mandate and work. The Board therefore also agreed to launch an official statement on the current situation in Haiti and the on-going climate of violence and human rights violations.
New Honorary Life Members
The IOI Board took the opportunity of its Vienna meeting to award Mr. Rafael Ribó, long-standing President of the IOI’s European Region, Honorary Life Membership and to present him with the IOI Golden Order of Merit to honor the outstanding and exceptional contribution that Mr. Ribó has rendered to the institution.
This award was also given to former IOI Secretary General Werner Amon on the occasion of a reception in Graz, which was held by the Governor of Styria, Mr. Christopher Drexler, and to which the IOI Board of Directors was generously invited.
The successful Vienna meeting of the IOI Board was concluded by an invitation from the President of the Austrian National Council (Parliament), Mr. Wolfgang Sobotka. Board members were invited to a guided tour of the newly renovated Parliament building followed by a reception. In his welcoming remarks, the President of the National Council highlighted the importance of Ombudsman institutions in the protection and promotion of human rights. This was followed by IOI President Chris Field and IOI Secretary General Gaby Schwarz, who both thanked the members of the Board for the successful meeting and the constructive debate.