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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
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18-22 OCTOBER 2021

DCAF and the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force (with support from the Commonwealth Ombudsman), have the pleasure to announce the dates and topic for the Thirteenth International Conference of Ombuds Institutions for the Armed Forces (13ICOAF).

More information


26-30 OCTOBER 2021

12 ICOAF will be devoted to assess 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. 

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Postponement of 12ICOAF due to COVID-19

31 MAY 2020

On behalf of the co-host, DCAF - Geneva Center for Security Sector Governance and the Austrian Parliamentary Commission for the Federal Armed Forces, we regret to announce that the  12ICOAF that was supposed to be held in Vienna, Austria between the 7-9 June 2020 will be postponed due to the rapid spread of COVID-19 and the restricting measure taken by governments

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

International Conference of