Celebrating 20 years in service of democracy

Celebrating 20 years in service of democracy

18 May 2018

The idea of creating an association for ombudsmen and mediators from French-speaking countries and regions was born in October 1996 at the 6th International Ombudsman Institute World Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and was the brainchild of Québec Ombudsman Daniel Jacoby and French Ombudsman Jacques Pelletier. Their intention was to enhance mutual support and expand coordination between French-speaking countries on human rights issues. They were also hoping to develop democratic engagement, improve interventions, and strengthen ombudsman and mediation bodies in French-speaking countries and regions.

Thanks to financial support from the International Organisation of La Francophonie, their vision became a reality with the first meeting of Ombudsmen and Mediators of La Francophonie in Quebec from 9 to 12 June 1997. The AOMF’s statues were officially adopted by the 18 founding members in May 1998, in Nouakchott (Mauritania).

The association’s first statutory congress was held in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) in November 1999, and was attended by representatives from the International Organisation of La Francophonie, the International Ombudsman Institute, and the United Nations Human Rights Centre.

Twenty years later, the AOMF’s membership numbers nearly 50 institutions, drawn from Europe, Africa, America and Oceania. The association continues to promote the development and consolidation of independent mediation bodies within the French-speaking world.

•    Democracy, rule of law and social harmony
Together, the participants work on a daily basis to improve the quality of public services in their respective states, which is an integral part of protecting basic rights. In 2012, a specific objective to protect the rights of children in French-speaking countries and regions was added to the association’s original mandate.

Among the major accomplishments of the AOMF, it is worth highlighting a series of actions to bolster existing mediation bodies and to support new organisations which are also driven by a desire to promote the rule of law and the principles of justice and equality. To this end the association has, for example, instituted professional training programmes and established a centre for training and sharing of mediation experience (Rabat, Morocco). It has also created a compendium of mediation doctrine.

•    Objectives and the future
Over the coming years, the AOMF will continue to actively support member institutions in their professional development, to strengthen mediation organisations within member states, and to assert its presence in Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Asia. The association’s work on behalf of children is also a priority. Communication, both internally and externally, remains a critical factor in achieving its objectives.

For this reason, the AOMF has launched a brand new website www.aomf-ombudsmans-francophonie.org, a new logo and a new design identity. It has also opened an account on Twitter, twitter.com/AOMFrancophonie?lang=fr, a symbol of the network’s dynamism.

Finally, the Ombudsman for Wallonia and the Wallonia-Brussels Federation (Belgium), who chairs the association, will host the 10th AOMF Congress from 6 to 9 November this year in Brussels and Namur. The theme for the meeting will be “AOMF 1998–2018: 20 years in service of mediators and the rule of law”. It will offer a chance to take a look back at the considerable work that has been done and to lay the foundations for the association’s activities over the coming years, with a focus on the same shared objective: strengthening the rule of law and protecting basic citizens’ rights.