“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.
“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.