Background to the norm of a human rights ombudsman The origins of national human rights institutions (NHRIs) can be tracked to early nineteenth-century Sweden. The basic task of the modern ombudsman institution is to investigate – on his or her initiative or on a citizen’s complaint – unlawful action by state authorities towards citizens. In addition, the tasks may include human rights education and promotion, and other related activities. The crucial point is that the ombudsman is guaranteed such resources and institutional arrangements that he or she can work independently without political interference.