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The term comes from an old Norse word which translates as "representative". Ombudsman is, therefore, an appointed official that is responsible for representing the interests of the public. They act as an external examiner on government and parliament. Their tasks focus on dealing with poor administration, the violation of citizens' rights or simply addressing complaints by voters. Ombudsmen are most often there to deal with the public sector as a whole.
There are often Ombudsmen in larger organizations or groups that place a large emphasis on rights to ensure that workers rights are not being abused and the organization is following best practise.
While they have a large degree of responsibility, they usually act as intermediaries and resolve issues through recommendations rather than binding agreements.