SAFEGUARDING - 6 June 2023

Ombuds Board close to selecting Global Ombuds


SOS Children’s Villages has made progress in the creation of a federation-wide Ombuds system. In April, a five-member Ombuds Board was established. The board is chaired by Ms. Cornelia Zelter, who has served for over 30 years as an international lawyer, manager, mediator and ombudsperson at the United Nations. The Ombuds Board is close to fulfilling one of its main responsibilities: selecting a Global Ombuds for SOS Children’s Villages. The current interim Global Ombuds, Judi Fairholm and Andrew Azzopardi, explain the role of the board and progress on the hiring of a Global Ombuds.

One of the roles of the Ombuds Office and Ombuds Board is to select a Global Ombuds for SOS Children’s Villages. Can you tell us where we are in the process?

We are currently in the final selection process. A very talented group of young people from Benin and Sierra Leone were trained to do the first interview with the candidates. They have now finished all but one interview and have shared their feedback on the candidates. The second interview will be with the Ombuds Office (National, Regional and interim Global Ombuds), who will shortlist to two candidates. The Ombuds Board will do the final interview and select the global candidate.

What are you looking for in a Global Ombuds and how important is this decision to the success of the Ombuds office?

We are looking for a Global Ombuds who has significant leadership and management experience at the regional or global level as well as experience as an ombuds and/or in the field of child rights and protection. They need to have strong relationship skills to build a team and collaborate with SOS Children’s Villages International while protecting the independence of the Office.  This decision is critical to the success of the Ombuds Office.

When do you expect a decision on the hiring of the Global Ombuds?

We expect to have the Global Ombuds appointed in July.

What is the overall role of the Ombuds Board?

The Ombuds Board appoints, monitors, advises and evaluates the Global Ombuds and oversees the governance of the Ombuds Office. The Board is responsible to submit annual Ombuds Office reports to the International Senate of SOS Children’s Villages International.

Is there something unique about the Ombuds system being created for SOS Children’s Villages? How does it compare to others?

This is the first global organizational ombuds that has been designed and developed with and for children. Whereas government ombuds for children serve those in state care (mostly concerned with child rights), Ombuds for SOS Children’s Villages serve all children and young people in its programmes, both past and present, on a range of issues. They are designated independent, informal, and impartial conflict resolution practitioners who, guided by the Ombuds Master Charter, work independently and yet collaboratively with SOS Children’s Villages child safeguarding to strengthen safeguarding and ensure a safe culture across the Federation.

In addition to being child and young person centred, the SOS Children's Villages Ombuds model follows a ‘ground-up’ approach that believes: 'The solution is where the problem is.' This means solutions and innovations are found by those who live day-to-day with the situation, both locally and nationally.  

Learn more about the Ombuds Office for SOS Children’s Villages

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