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

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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