Towards a peaceful, lasting solution in Lesotho

Sep 1, 2014

Ms. Karla Robin Hershey is the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Lesotho. Photo: UNDP Lesotho / Mark S. Cogan

The United Nations remains deeply concerned about the situation in Lesotho. In keeping with our statement issued on Sunday, we urge calm, restraint from violence, and respect for human rights. Fundamentally, the United Nations remains committed to ensuring that all parties work constructively find common ground so that a lasting solution may be found.

The United Nations works in Lesotho in partnership with the Government of Lesotho, and has done so for decades. The United Nations has worked closely with the Independent Election Commission and worked closely with political parties on mediation efforts after the 2012 elections, which was inclusive of civil society organizations, and heads of churches.

While Lesotho may be a small country, its complexities, issues of conflict, peace, justice and security are just as challenging as those of larger countries. The immediate challenge in Lesotho is to achieve a sustainable political solution. This is by no means easy. Long-term problems only facilitate crisis, which in turn leads to a sense of urgency to deliver quick results. A lasting solution must address not short-term symptoms, but long-term solutions—and that can only be done through intra-party and inter-party communication. That can also be difficult.

Yet, it is the only way forward. All parties must learn to cooperate across political lines. While competition is an important part of public discussions on national issues and priorities, once elections are decided politicians must find a way to cooperate and govern for the benefit of the people of Lesotho.

Change will not come unless there is true political will. For that to happen there must be a desire for lasting change. There must be individuals who are willing to lead the dialogue in a neutral fashion. There must be a sense of urgency about the need for change that is inclusive of people and makes the public equally compelled to find solutions. Finally, there must are be challenges on the national agenda that are of equal or greater weight. To date, Lesotho ranked second worldwide in HIV prevalence among adults. As many as 220,000 children have been made orphans because of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

That’s not all. More than 50% of the Basotho people live below the national poverty line. More women die prematurely—of complications that could easily be prevented. Rural families struggle to feed their families, and recent drought, floods, and climate change have hurt Lesotho’s agricultural production.

It is important to remember the long-term visions Lesotho has aspired for itself. At the first National Dialogue for the National Vision 2020, more than 500 representatives of key stakeholders formulated a vision statement, which aims for Lesotho to “be a stable democracy, a united and prosperous nation at peace with itself and its neighbours.”

In that effort, Lesotho is not alone.

Press Contact:

Mark S. Cogan, Communications and Reports Specialist
Office of the Resident Coordinator (RCO)
Tel: (+266) 22 313 790 ext. 377