OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 24, 2012) - The Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and Canadian Forces, Mr. Pierre Daigle, welcomed to Canada today representatives of ombudsman institutions from more than 25 countries from around the world to exchange best practices and lessons learned related to the protection and promotion of the welfare and human rights of armed forces personnel.
The Fourth International Conference of Ombudsman Institutions for the Armed Forces (ICOAF) will take place at the Government Conference Centre on Sussex Drive in Ottawa, Ontario from September 23 to September 25. The conference will include representatives of ombudsman institutions from Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Canada, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Honduras, Kyrgyzstan, the Netherlands, Norway, Republic of South Africa, Romania, Russia, Senegal, Serbia, Tajikistan, Tunisia and the United Kingdom.
The aim of this conference is to reach out to other states in the near future, in particular post-conflict and transition states. The ICOAF initiative also looks to establish ties with states that do not have an ombudsman institution for the military but have expressed an interest in learning from the experiences of established ombudsman organizations.
"I am deeply honoured and very pleased to be co-hosting such a significant conference in Canada - the first time this prestigious gathering will be held in North America," said Pierre Daigle, Canada's military Ombudsman. He added "I know that we will learn a great deal from one another and that this conference will make a substantial difference in the work we all do for our military members world-wide."
As one of the world's leading institutions in the areas of security sector reform and security sector governance, the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces will be co-hosting this fourth international conference in Canada.
"We are delighted that Canada has agreed to co-host this conference," said His Excellency Ambassador Theodor Winkler, Director of the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces. He added, "We have established a robust and substantial agenda for this conference over the next few days that we feel will advance the cause of human rights for armed forces personnel."
This year's conference includes sessions on capacity development and understanding, developing, and instituting outreach plans. Capacity development will focus on building a firm foundation with the help of well-established institutions who will assist emerging institutions seeking to function at their full potential.
Effective outreach leads to a better understanding of constituents needs and provides constituents with a better understanding of ombudsman institutions and how to receive help for their issues and concerns.
To date, three International Conferences of Ombudsman Institutions for the Armed Forces have taken place: the first at the German Bundestag in Berlin in May 2009; the second in the National Assembly of Austria in Vienna in April 2010; and the third at the Palace of Belgrade in Serbia in April 2011.
Each conference ends with a declaration for moving forward so lessons learned can be put into place. In previous years, conference participants have helped increase awareness of post-traumatic stress-disorder, the support of military families, the need for respectful handling of diversity in the Armed Forces, and the importance of openness and transparency.
Canada is a member state of the Democratic Control of Armed Forces and provides project related funding and seconded personnel to the organization. More information on the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces is available on their website at: www.dcaf.ch.
The Ombudsman's Office for National Defence and Canadian Forces was created to increase openness and transparency in the Canadian Forces and the Department of National Defence and to ensure the fair treatment of concerns raised by Canadian Forces members, departmental employees and their families. Further information is available on the Ombudsman website at: www.ombudsman.forces.gc.ca.