Annan defends International Criminal Court

2013-10-08 07:47

Cape Town - If African victims could get justice in their own countries, there would be no need for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to step in, former UN secretary general Kofi Annan said on Monday.

Speaking at the third annual Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture, Annan came to the defence of the ICC - which had come under increasing criticism from African countries for "unfairly targeting Africans".

"On a continent that has experienced deadly conflict, gross violations of human rights, even genocide, I am surprised to hear critics ask whether the pursuit of justice might obstruct the search for peace," Annan told a packed University of the Western Cape main hall.

Annan said justice and peace were interlinked, and one could not be achieved without the other.

"We must be ambitious enough to pursue both, and wise enough to recognise, respect and protect the independence of justice," he said.

"And we must always have the courage to ask ourselves 'who speaks for the victims'?"

Annan bemoaned the fact that "the victims of the worst crimes" in Africa had been failed due to inaction against the perpetrators.

In most cases, it was Africans that sought justice, when courts in their own countries had failed them.

Court of last resort

"In four of the cases on Africa before the court, African leaders themselves made the referral to the ICC. In two others - Darfur and more recently Libya - it was the United Nations Security Council, and not the Court, which initiated proceedings," he said.

Speaking to media shortly after his address, Annan reiterated the ICC was set up as a court of last resort.

"If African victims can get justice at home and we have credible courts and they do take action there'll be no need for [the] ICC," Annan said.

Earlier in his speech, Annan spoke out against the "winner takes all" approach to politics on the continent.

"We have seen how this has led to abuses of power by the winner and encouraged losers to reject democracy as a peaceful means for change," he said.

"Too often, the individual interests of leaders have been misconstrued as interests of their country."

Annan also paid tribute to Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu - who celebrated his 82nd birthday.

Deeply blessed

"Desmond has always found the courage, no matter how uncomfortable or dangerous, to speak truth to power."

Introducing Annan to the crowd earlier on, Tutu said he was "deeply blessed" that Annan had chosen to speak at the lecture, describing the former UN chief as "humble".

"Unfortunately, you won't see he's blushing," Tutu told guests who roared with laughter.

In his brief introduction, Tutu said he "felt sorry for God".

The Arch - as he's affectionately known around the world - made brief reference to the strife in Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"Can you imagine what it must be like for God... looking down saying those are my children in Syria, those using chemical weapons are my children, those dying are my children," Tutu said.

  • Duncan Scott Bennie - 2013-10-08 08:41

    Finally a leader in Africa that speaks sense

      Chad Massala - 2013-10-08 10:03

      Annan is not an African Leader he is stupid western puppet that haven`t done no good to Africa, when will u people wake up and see the real face of the enemy.

  • Mike Lucejko - 2013-10-08 09:07

    If Africa leaves the ICC then leaders of African countries will be accountable to no-one and very soon we will have a bunch of 'Dictators' running their countries, causing all kinds of atrocities..

      Nhamo Dzenyika - 2013-10-08 09:12

      Not really Mike. The contentious issues with this whole ICC is why people like Bush and Blair can't be hauled before such courts for doing almost the same thing - violating human rights. They went into Iraq without the mandate of UN on the pretext of finding weapons of mass destruction. We all know now there was no such a thing. Now this is double standards and that is what African leaders are querying. Where is the fairness?

      Chad Massala - 2013-10-08 10:09

      How about building a strong African court that will oversight African problem, because the truth is the ICC is very very biased. George Bush and Tony Blair are the worst Genocidal leader of the 21ST Century killing up to a Million Iraqi , but yet they are no where to be see in the ICC dock.

  • Pascal Dus - 2013-10-08 09:15

    clear and fair peace lecture

  • Chad Massala - 2013-10-08 10:06

    Genocide are committed by African to Africans we agree, but those African leaders who commit Genocide are always supported by western leaders for their own interest. Koffi Anna is a stupid puppet, that have done no good to Africa, when he was UN General Secretary how many wars occurred in Africa with complicity of his western Mafia boss.

      KB MaFive-zero Mosimanyana - 2013-10-08 10:26

      Those who tag others Stupid puppets r usually themselves puppets of their own masters and r just singing the tune of these masters who r unfortunately usually hate mongers... As history have shown wherever they is a bad man his opponents or any1 who tries to reprimand him is labeled a puppet.... Note well

      Chad Massala - 2013-10-08 12:33

      That`s fine if that's the case, than the ICC that only target Africans and leave the real perpetrator of Genocide untouched in America and Europe.

  • Simvuyele Nduna - 2013-10-08 15:38

    If Annan suggest that the reason why African leaders are prosecuted in Geneva its because there is no justice in the continent then we must question his ability to think and detect problems. He is supposed to speak on how do we build capacity in the continent so that we can deal with the problem permanently instead of postponing it. If there was justice in ICC most eastern leaders would be in jail by now.

  • Zan Bi Kouame - 2013-10-08 17:57

    As a matter of fact impunity is not to condone. But it is naive to believe the international criminal court is a fair justice system.When We African people will understand we should start solving our own differences. Are the USA ashamed of not being part of ICC why African nations that want to leave ICC should then be ashamed ?

  • Mohammad Naeem Khan - 2013-10-09 07:08

    The atrocities perpetrated by the powerful, whether that be the NATO forces, the Taliban, al-Qaida, or the indigenous rulers in the less organized states on their victims are invariably justified with vehemence by the relevant perpetrators as an act of justice. There is no dearth of arguments in their intellectual inventory and the biased media to tilt the very concept of justice in support of the atrocious crackdown by the strong against the weak. The obnoxious phenomenon is universal in the absence of a strong unanimous voice against repression. Ah, unanimous ? Who will side with victims ? The smaller states and organizations are afraid of the stronger ones. They are, like bonded-labour, afraid of financial sanctions and political support, lest they be bracketed as rogue, non-cooperative and even pro-terrorist states or organizations. The QUESTION that needs to be answered is how to DEFINE justice as a universal mechanism of peace with equal opportunities to the entire human race as one homogeneous community on this beautiful planet of OURS ?

  • Sifiso Ndlovu - 2013-10-09 12:14

    no one doubts the importance of the work that ICC i s suppose to do. there's been violations of human rights in the Continent, civil wars, rebels and all that! but what Africa is arguing is that let Africa deal with its problems lets set a Regional Court that is not gonna be influenced by western powers with their own agenda!

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