Closing words by Jan van Zanen at the meeting of the International Ombudsman Institute Conference, 14 May 2024


Good evening everyone,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you here today.

Here, in the atrium of the city hall.

The next few days will be devoted to the world congress of the International Ombudsman Institute.

The Hague, the international city of peace and justice, considers it an honour that this meeting is being held here.

Did you know that The Hague municipality was one of the first cities in the Netherlands to have an ombudsman?

That was in 1980, just before a national ombudsman was appointed.

Since 2015 we have also had a youth ombudsman.

This had to do with the fact that the municipality also became responsible for youth care from that time.

The importance of the Ombudsman Institute is not something I have to emphasize in this company.

You do work that is of vital importance for the functioning of government, in accordance with the principles of good governance.

It offers people an easy way to call government authorities, both local and national, to order when they act wrongly or carelessly.

Something that, first and foremost, is in the interests of our citizens.

Besides that, the Ombudsman Institute does another important thing: it keeps governments on their toes.

For the record: in the Netherlands every municipality is required to provide an ‘ombudsman facility’.

A municipality can do that by appointing its own ombudsman, as The Hague, Rotterdam and Amsterdam, and some others do, or by turning to the National Ombudsman.

Having an own ombudsman entails more cost, of course, which we in The Hague are more than willing to bear.

We should not forget that the municipality is the level of government closest to citizens.

This is also one of the reasons why The Hague attaches great importance to having its own ombudsman.

For us it is only natural.

Without detracting from the importance of the National Ombudsman, of course.

I very much hope you have a fruitful and interesting congress.

And an enjoyable time in The Hague.