Authors: Niall Crowley
This perspective explores the experience of equality bodies in making links with ombudsperson offices, and, in particular, multi-mandate bodies, specifically where a single institution holds both the equality mandate and the ombudsperson mandate.
Links between separate bodies can be both formal and informal and range in ambition. Ten of Equinet’s forty six members are multi-mandate bodies, in combining an equality mandate and an ombudsperson mandate as multi-mandate bodies .
Equality bodies are statutory bodies established to promote equality and combat discrimination. In many instances, they have been established on foot of the EU equal treatment Directives. They are diverse in their scale, length of history, legal basis, structure, mandate and function. This diversity influences the level and nature of links they might make with ombudsperson offices. The diversity of function is of particular relevance when it comes to the combination of competences accorded to equality bodies across: adjudicatory competences; competences to litigate and to support people experiencing discrimination; and competences to promote equality and combat discrimination.
The term ombudsperson is used in different ways. It does not always describe a traditional ombudsperson office and there can be different types of ombudsperson offices. These can address a particular issue, a particular group of people, or a particular sector of the administration. The traditional ombudsperson office tends to be established through the Constitution, or if not through then through legislation, and to address issues of mal-administration by public sector bodies with reference to a minimum standard that relates to ensuring no abuse of power and being just, accessible and effective. This is the understanding that is applied through this perspective.
Links between equality bodies and ombudsperson offices have a potential to contribute to the effectiveness of each. Multi-mandate bodies hold their own particular potential. It is useful to analyse the experience of equality bodies in making these links and within multi-mandate settings to better understand how this contribution to effectiveness can be achieved and how this potential can be realised.
The purpose of this perspective is to establish and explore this body of experience, build a knowledge base about making these links, enable a better understanding of the challenges in making such links, and identify the good practices that underpin the most fruitful linkages. Making such links is not a matter of a hierarchy of bodies or powers or bodies, but of getting the best out of the powers each body has.
Number of pages: 49