As we embarked on the final day of the International Ombudsman Conference discussing “The Right to Good Administration: myth, aspiration or reality?” the Third Plenary Session commenced the day’s agenda. This session deliberated on strengthening relationships between independent state offices and public administration.
A cornerstone of contemporary governance, this bond often governs how policies are crafted and executed—the discussion aimed to grasp how collaboration and mutual appreciation between these institutions might be nurtured. Steering the dialogue, Dr John Stanton, Senior Lecturer in Law at The City Law School, City, University of London, took the chair.
The conversation was initiated by thoughts from Prof Edward Warrington, delivered by Dr George Vital Zammit in his stead (link to speech). The address delved into perspectives from Small, Democratising or Post-Conflict States. The panel featured Mr Charles Deguara, Malta’s Auditor General, whose duties, anchored in the Constitution and the Auditor General and National Audit Act, are paramount in supervising Malta’s governmental financial integrity (link to speech). Following him, Mr Mohammed Benalilou, Mediateur from the Kingdom of Morocco, imparted his profound understanding of Moroccan governance systems. Concluding the panel, Dr Reno Borg, Malta’s previous Arbiter for Financial Services, shared insights from his substantial experience, illuminating the intricacies of the financial sector and his distinctive role within it.
The subsequent session, titled “Reaching Out to the People: The Ombudsman as the Defender of the People”, was presided over by Dr Tamar Gvaramadze, the First Deputy Public Defender from Georgia. In an age characterised by significant societal transformations, the Ombudsman stands as a sentinel for citizens’ rights. Their duty to articulate and address public grievances cements trust in communities and guarantees transparency in administrative dealings.
Esteemed panellists for this session included Mrs Maria Stylianou, Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights of Cyprus, who offered insights into the evolution of the Ombudsman institution in Cyprus (link to speech). Dr Paul Cachia, Chairperson of the Malta Arbitration Centre, detailed the subtleties of his role in promoting good administration. Rounding off the panel, Mr Peter Svetina, Ombudsman of Slovenia and Vice President of the AOM discussed the shifting roles of the Ombudsman. He underscored the significance of accessibility, community outreach, and championing tangible change in a rapidly evolving societal backdrop.
Transitioning to the conference’s culmination, the Closing Session began with an encompassing report by the conference rapporteur, Dr George Vital Zammit, offering attendees a summative perspective of the dialogues and primary conclusions (link to report). This segued into the unveiling and endorsement of the Malta Declaration by the Maltese Parliamentary Ombudsman, Judge Emeritus Joseph Zammit McKeon. This Declaration underscores the pivotal role of sound administration in governance and societal prosperity. The complete declaration is available here.
Bringing the conference to a close, remarks were delivered by the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon Bernard Grech (link to speech), and the Prime Minister of Malta, the Hon Robert Abela (link to speech).