Linda C. Reif

Document Type


First Page



The number of human rights ombudsman institutions has increased dramatically over the past three decades. Such institutions are prevalent in Latin America and in Central and Eastern Europe, and are increasingly found in other regions of the world as well. Forces such as democratization, public institution-building, comparative law influences, limited state resources, and international human rights law continue the spread of human rights ombudsman institutions. This Article discusses the mandates and jurisdiction of human rights ombudsman institutions. It argues that all governments should endow human rights ombudsman institutions with as many additional powers as their institutional and legal systems permit to supplement the ombudsman’s core investigatory mandate. These include inspection, litigation, research, and education powers. Further, this Article argues that all human rights ombudsman institutions must institute operating practices to increase their ability to protect and promote human rights.