The Ombudsman in developing democracies: the Commonwealth Caribbean experience

Najmul Abedin (Department of Public Management, Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, Tennessee, USA)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Publication date: 6 April 2010



The purpose of this paper is to critically examine the working of the Ombudsman offices in six developing democracies in the Commonwealth Caribbean in order to assess/evaluate the degree or extent of effectiveness of these offices. It aims to look at them from both contemporary and evolutionary perspectives. Although it focuses on the Commonwealth Caribbean, some references to other parts of the world are also made for a better and comparative understanding of the Ombudsman institution.


The paper is based mainly on archival research. Original/primary as well as secondary sources – old, recent and contemporary – have been used. Random interviews and observation have also been useful sources of information.


On the one hand, this study identifies various factors and related issues that make the performance of the Ombudsman institution difficult and problematic in the Commonwealth Caribbean; and, on the other, it also identifies some remedial measures for effectively dealing with these problems. Although the Ombudsman office has a number of inadequacies, it plays a fairly useful role in protecting and promoting human rights, in redressing grievances especially of the “small” people, and thus in contributing to good governance, transparency and democratic values.

Research limitations/implications

There is considerable dearth of literature on this institution in the Caribbean. This study, at least partially, fills the gap.

Practical implications

The adoption of the remedial measures identified will improve the performance and the effectiveness of this institution in varying degrees. These measures/recommendations will also facilitate the reform efforts of the policy makers who will find them useful.


The paper, based on original research, makes a significant contribution to the understanding of the Ombudsman institution.



Abedin, N. (2010), "The Ombudsman in developing democracies: the Commonwealth Caribbean experience", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 221-253.

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