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Political Science Comparative Politics

The Ombudsman

Citizens Defender

edited by Donald C. Rowat

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
Apr 2019
Comparative Politics, City Planning & Urban Development, History & Theory
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    Publish Date
    Apr 2019
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The Ombudsman is an officer appointed by the legislature to receive and investigate complaints from citizens against unjust administrative action. The system originated in Sweden in 1809, was adopted by Finland in 1919, and recently has spread to Denmark, Normay and New Zealand. It is now being widely discussed in other democracies, and has been proposed for, and in some cases accepted by, countries as far apart and as different in constitutional nature as Britain, Canada, Indian, Ireland, Holland and the United States. The editor of this book of essays sees the Ombudsman scheme as an important new addition to the armoury of democracy and predicts that eventually it will become a standard part of governmental machinery throughout the democratic world. His preface to the second edition outlines fully the latest developments in both new and existing schemes.


Language barriers have made it difficult for English-speaking countries to find out how the system works, however, and wrong impressions have been gained. In this first comprehensive treatment of the subject, the editor has spaced no effort in securing experts to explain how the institution actually works and to discuss whetheri t can be adapted successfully to various constitutional systems. In all, there are twenty-nine contributors (including several Ombudsmen) from thirteen different nations. The editor, who is Professor of Political Science at Carleton University, Ottawa, has travelled twice to Scandinavia to study the schemes there, and has written extensively on the subject.


The book is designed for layman and expert alike. It is aimed at all readers who have a serious interest in improving their country's government. For experts it includes, in an appendix, statistical tables on existing systems, an extensive bibliography, the British Parliamentary Commissioner Act and Alberta's Ombudsman Act which are notable additions to this new edition, and the Bills proposing Ombudsmen for Canada and the United States.

About the author

DONALD C. ROWAT is Professor of Political Science at Carleton University.

Donald C. Rowat's profile page

Editorial Reviews

' … can be warmly recommended to all those interested in the protection of human rights and individual liberties. It is a mine of useful and helpful information.' Economist

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