Who we are



An Ombuds is a trustworthy person who listens, supports, and guides children, young people and adults towards solutions. The Ombuds Office is the team of people who ensure that all Ombuds offer strong support for children and young people. It consists of National Ombuds, Regional Ombuds, a Global Ombuds and Representatives (staff and children) Office Coordinators support their work. The Ombuds Board oversees the Ombuds Office.


Meaningful child participation is fundamental to the Ombuds Office. Children and young people participate in the development of the Ombuds Office approach, Ombuds recruitment and selection, monitoring and evaluation, and awareness raising.

Importantly, the Ombuds Office is independent from SOS Children’s Villages with internal reporting lines: National Ombuds report to their Regional Ombuds, Regional Ombuds to the Global Ombuds, and the Global Ombuds to the Ombuds Board.

Ombuds Board members are selected through an open and transparent recruitment process.

Ombuds board

Ombuds board chair:

Cornelia Zelter, Germany

Served with the United Nations for over 30 years as an international lawyer, manager, mediator and ombudsperson.  

Ombuds board members:

  • Emma Baumgartner, Italy
    Former Professor of Developmental Psychology and Head of the Department of Developmental and Social Psychology, Faculty of Medicine and Psychology, University of Rome, Sapienza.  
  • Jaap Doek, Netherlands
    Former Chairman of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (2001-2007), emeritus professor of Law (Family and Juvenile Law) at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam.
  • Benyam Dawit Mezmur, Ethopia
    Chairman UN Committee on the Rights of the Child from 2015 - 2017 and vice chairman of African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.


The Ombuds Office:

Regional Ombuds:

  • Asia (ASIA): Harleen Walia
  • Eastern & Southern Africa (ESAF): Nandisa Tilayi
  • Latin America & the Caribbean (LAAM): Magela Luksic
  • West, Central & North Africa (WCNA): Sambieni Bienvenu


Global Ombuds: Pierre Cazenave