Within the framework of the SDG 16 project, DCAF hosted the workshop “Ombuds Institutions, SDG 16, and Security Sector Governance: Towards Peaceful, Just, and Inclusive Societies in Sub-Saharan Africa” on 5-6 October 2022, in Oslo, Norway. The workshop gathered National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), Ombuds Institutions (OIs), Parliamentary Commissioners and Human Rights Defenders from The Gambia, Kenya, Niger, Senegal, and Togo to discuss how to align their work with SDG 16 and contribute to achieving the 2030 Agenda. Ombuds institutions are a key component of the institutional architecture necessary to achieve peaceful, just and inclusive societies as envisioned by SDG 16 and the 2030 Agenda.
Overall, the workshop underscored that ombuds institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa can play a key role in addressing the transnational threats to peace and stability that the region currently faces. By providing access to justice through investigations, mediating between the state and society, and monitoring human rights abuses, ombuds institutions act as societal “thermometers” through detecting and addressing grievances before they escalate into conflict. In the words of the President of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly, H.E. Miroslav Lajčák, given the ability of security actors to “bring societies back from the brink of conflict – or push them over the edge”, it is crucial that ombuds institutions apply their oversight functions to the security sector. In the view of DCAF, only when security actors respect human rights, the rule of law, and gender equality, can the conditions for sustainable development be realized. It is for these reasons that the continuation of support for ombuds institutions across Sub-Saharan Africa is crucial for achieving the aspirations of SDG 16.