Republic of Malawi -- U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) hosts the sixth iteration of the Accountability Colloquium- a specialized conference on military operations for African military commanders, chief of staff, and legal advisors throughout the continent from Feb. 26-28 in Lilongwe, Republic of Malawi.
The Accountability Colloquium, an annually-held conference, discussed the current legal issues and importance of operational commanders to seek advice from their legal advisors to ensure adherence to the rule of law with approximately 80 delegates and 30 African Nations in attendance.
Brig. Gen. Dan Kuwali, chief of legal service in the Malawi Defense Force, stated that the military relationships between the legal advisors and military commanders ensure operations are conducted in accordance with the law.
This particular engagement and exchange of information was intended to give military legal advisors from AFRICOM’s strategic planning department the opportunity to focus on the African military legal professional and commander relationship as well as facilitate discussions and exercises related to military justice, command responsibility, and United Nations and African Union operations. During the 3-day forum, the delegates and personnel discussed the importance of access for the law in sake of creating an ethical military.
“I’m struck by how candid the military commanders were in describing their challenges,” said Sandra Franzblau, AFRICOM Office of Legal Counsel. “Over the years of working on the Accountability Colloquium, it is gratifying to see that candidness is occurring. Part of what we do is bridge capability gaps and get the professionals in the room who really know their issues, commanders and legal advisors that are working in African militaries, and we get them talking.”
Discussions throughout the conference were tempered with realism, as participants weighed new ideas with an understanding of military justice in the country. The attendees brought with them an impressive array of prior experiences to help define a better understanding of African military operations subject to the rule of law in Africa.
"It's essential to have access to legal advice, and it's even better to have more than one attorney so that they have the opportunity to converse with one another, so that no legal issues are missed," Franzblau said.