Ombudsperson Gaby Schwarz meets UN representatives in New York

October 17, 2023

From 9–12 October 2023, Ombudsperson Gaby Schwarz met high-ranking UN representatives in New York in her role as Secretary General of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI). She took the opportunity of these meetings raise awareness about the important work Ombudsman institutions provide every day to ensure good governance and the rule of law and to explore new options for the IOI to closer engage and cooperate with the United Nations.

Secretary General Schwarz held meetings with his Excellency Dennis Francis, 78th President of the UN General Assembly, her Excellency Paula Narváez, President of Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), his Excellency Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and her Excellency Maria-Francesca Spatolisano, Assistant Secretary-General at the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA).

‘Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions’

During these very productive talks, Ms. Schwarz was able to demonstrate how Ombudsmen contribute to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, for instance in matters relating to health, gender equality, education, or environmental protection. This is specifically true for SDG 16 on ‘Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions’, to which Ombudsmen contribute by providing free and accessible complaints handling services, identifying systemic issues and recommending change to enhance the effectiveness and performance of public services.

A meeting with Ambassador Marco Suazo, Head of the New York office of UNITAR, the UN Institute for Training and Research, provided an excellent opportunity to discuss a first joint project in more details. Based on the Memorandum of Understanding signed between UNITAR and the IOI last year. A first project will be training on the Sustainable Development Goals, which is tailored to the work and needs of Ombudsman institutions.

This informal consultation with high-ranking UN representatives provided an opportunity to identify a new range of opportunities for the IOI to cooperate and engage in the UN’s sustainable development process.

During her stay in New York Ombudsperson Schwarz was welcomed by Ambassador Alexander Marschik, the Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations in New York, as well as the Austrian Consul General, Ms. Helene Steinhäusl. Ombudsperson Schwarz was also delighted to be able to visit the Austrian Cultural Forum and meet its new Director, Susanne Keppler-Schlesinger.