Ombuds Institutions
for the armed forces

Ombuds institutions for the armed forces are an essential part of any transparent and accountable security sector. While they exist in a number of forms, ranging from national human rights institutions mandated to oversee and address complaints and concerns relating to all government bodies, of which the armed forces are just one narrow responsibility, to independent bodies mandated to oversee only the armed forces. However, while they may have varying mandates, all Ombuds institutions for the armed forces share a number of elements. They are all independent and impartial, and they all play a crucial role in preventing and responding to both maladministration and human rights abuses within and/or by the armed forces.



DCAF - Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance supports ICOAF, which brings together representatives of Ombuds institutions from various countries with the purpose of exchanging information and experiences about the functioning of ombuds institutions. The objective of the initiative is to establish best practice and lessons learned related to the mandate, powers and functioning of these institutions.

International Conference for the Armed Forces (ICOAF)

The International Conference of Ombuds Institutions for the Armed Forces (ICOAF) was esthablished in 2009 with the aim to discuss and establish best practice and lessons learned related to the mandate, powers, and functioning of these institutions. 


ICOAF gathers representatives of Ombuds institutions for the armed forces from around the world which exist in a variety of different names and models. To date, representatives of ombuds institutions of over 80 states have participated in the ICOAF initiative. For a list of participating countries, please refer to the participants page.

DCAF and a participating ombuds institution co-host the conference each year.

Contact DCAF

​Chemin Eugène-Rigot 2E

P.O. Box 1360

1211 Geneva



News & Publications

September 28, 2020

12ICOAF will be devoted to assessing the impact of Covid-19 on not only ombuds institutions, but also on society, and the armed forces. In the majority of countries, armed forces have been called upon to assist civilian authorities in tackling this public health emergency, exposing them to new and often unusual tasks in a fast-changing environment, but also a higher risk of infection.

Postponement of 12ICOAF due to COVID_19

May 30, 2020

On behalf of the co-hosts, DCAF – Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance and the Austrian Parliamentary Commission for the Federal Armed Forces, we regret to announce that the Twelfth International Conference of Ombuds Institutions for the Armed Forces (12ICOAF) that was supposed to be held in Vienna, Austria between 7- 9 June 2020 will postponed due to the rapid spread of COVID-19 and the restricting measures taken by governments.

The conference will therefore be provisionally postponed to 27-29 October 2020.

DCAF and the Austrian Parliamentary Commissioner accord top priority to the health and well-being of participants of 12ICOAF. For this reason, we will make sure to keep you posted on developments and promptly inform you of any decisions. 

Preparatory Meeting for the 12ICOAF held in Vienna

February 26, 2020

The Preparatory Meeting to the 12ICOAF was successfully held last week (27.02.2020) in the capital of Austria. The Austrian representative welcomed representative of Australia, Netherlands, Germany, South Africa and DCAF to discuss the  program and the organisation of the 12 International Conference of Ombuds Institutions for the Armed Forces. 


12ICOAF in Vienna in June 2020

January 01, 2020

​ICOAF will take place in Vienna, Austria in 2020. The new 12ICOAF website will be online soon ! 

11ICOAF in Sarajevo in October 2019

January 01, 2020

ICOAF will take place in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2019. The new 11ICOAF website is now online. Check it out for more information about the conference!

New country pages

October 07, 2017

Individual country pages have been added to the website to provide an overview of those countries that have participated in ICOAF, and the different ombuds institutions that exist in these countries. There are over sixty currently listed.

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