The Office of the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces has a significant international profile and has been an active participant in bilateral and multilateral projects designed to promote the rule of law through co-operation and sharing of expertise, particularly in countries currently examining the establishment of military ombudsman institutions to ensure that complaints from service personnel are dealt with by an impartial, independent, expert body. The Ombudsman for the Defence Forces has keenly supported the work of the Organisation for Co-Operation and Security in Europe (OSCE) as the lead international institution driving such initiatives. The OSCE is made up of 56 participating States, from Europe, Central Asia and North America, together with 12 partner countries. The organisation has a comprehensive and co-operative concept of security, and views the protection of human rights as central to the sustainability of peace and security.
Ireland will assume the Chairmanship of the OSCE in 2012 for the first time since the establishment of the organisation in 1975. OSCE activities fall within three dimensions: the Politico-Military Dimension, the Economic and Environmental Dimension and the Human Dimension. Ireland attaches particular importance to the Human Dimension, which deals with human rights and fundamental freedoms, as this is a central focus of Irish foreign policy. Conscious of Ireland's commitment in this field, the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces actively supports OSCE initiatives in this area aiming to ensure full respect for human rights, the rule of law and the promotion of policies and practices which protect and enforce the human rights of armed forces personnel.
The Organisation for OSCE led conference "Citizens in Uniform: Protecting Human Rights in the Armed Forces" was held in Berlin on 7- 8 September 2006.As a consequence of this meeting the Ombudsman was invited by the OSCE’s Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) to participate as a member of an Expert Group convened to draw up a the "Handbook on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Armed Forces Personnel", which was published jointly by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the OSCE and the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) , and launched in Vienna in 2008.
The Ombudsman for the Defence Forces was invited to address the Inaugural Conference of Military Ombudsman Institutions which was held in 2009 in Berlin on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the German Parliamentary Commissioner for the Armed Forces. She was also invited to address the Second International Conference of Ombudsman Institutions for the Armed Forces held in Vienna on 25 April 2010 to 26 April 2010 and will make presentations to and moderate one of the discussions sessions of the Third International Conference of the Ombudsman Institutions for the Armed Forces to be held in Belgrade on 13-15 April 2011. The Ombudsman has been invited to chair one of the main conference sessions in Belgrade focusing on the relationship between external complaint handling (e.g. ombudsman or parliamentary body) and the internal complaint handling mechanisms of armed forces.
In February 2011, the Ombudsman was invited to participate in an OSCE supported conference in Yerevan, Armenia, where the establishment of a military ombudsman is currently being examined. The conference focused on international best practices for democratic control of the armed forces and human rights protection in the military. As the Ombudsman had prior work commitments she was unable to present her paper in person, which was kindly delivered to the conference by the Honorary Counsel of Ireland to the Republic of Armenia, Mr Jonathan Stark.
From a bilateral perspective, in July 2010, the Ombudsman was honored to have been invited by Dra. Nilda Garre, former Argentine Minister for Defence to contribute to a publication related to Human Rights and Civilian and Military relations that the National Office on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law of the Argentine Ministry of Defence intends to publish later this year.