Anyone who has ever worked in a government bureaucracy comes to realize the ongoing conflict between the forces of the bureaucracy and the needs and interests of clients being served. There is always a pull on the part of bureaucrats to place their interests and the need of the organization to exist before the interests of those for whom the institution was created. Reidar Hjermann, from day one of his installation as the Ombudsman for the children of Norway, has been engaged in such a struggle. His conflict began with a dispute over an exiting bureaucrat who wanted to keep computer equipment, and has escalated into continuing disputes over power.
The concept of an Ombudsman who focuses on the needs of children is an important innovation in human rights. Children don’t vote and lack power to impact how government deals with their issues. A man like Hjermann is important because he will not allow bureaucratic forces to place their interests before those of children.