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Your Excellency Mr. Julian R . Hunte,
President of the 58th Session,
Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Government,
Your Excellency, Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

Mr. President, my delegation associates itself with the compliments extended to you on your election to the presidency of this session, to your predecessor, His Excellency Mr. Jan Kavan of the Czech Republic, and to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, H.E. Mr. Kofi Annan.

Mr. President, as we converge into this city of New York, we are once again reminded of the stark reality of the scourge of terrorism whose effects have reverberated across the world. Two years ago, early this month, and in this very City, humanity suffered the worst threat visited on it by terrorism.

We continue to share the grief of those who will forever miss the love and support of their loved ones. We must therefore reaffirm our resolve to partner together to eliminate those elements which threaten to destroy humanity and its way of life. Our best hope for success is, and should be, our collective strength. We owe it to ourselves and future generations of humankind to pool resources and strategies together to annihilate the scourge of terrorism. In doing so, we must simultaneously and genuinely examine and begin to understand what forces and factors drive an inherently good human being to such desperation as to commit such drastic acts of violence, not only against others, but against self in the process. Our preventive measures must address such forces and factors to disarm potential terrorists.

Mr. President, the progress report on the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in Lesotho, documents that the single greatest obstacle to the development of our nation, and indeed to reaching the objectives as laid out in the MDG, is the scourge of HIV and AIDS. In our part of the world, Southern Africa, governments are overwhelmed by the high levels of morbidity and mortality, especially among the working age group in all sectors, including Health and Agriculture. HIV and AIDS have become the leading cause of food insecurity and famine that plagues so many of our people today.

Mr. President, we are also frustrated because our efforts toward the achievement of the MDG of education for all by 2015, through the introduction of free primary education, is faltering due to the high rate of absenteeism by both teachers and pupils. Teachers are sick and dying, Children, especially girls, are dropping out of school to take care of their sick relatives. The number of malnourished, traumatized, orphaned and out-of­school children, is increasing at an alarming rate.

We therefore stress the need for urgent assistance to Lesotho and to the Southern African Region, with increased supplies of the anti-retroviral and other related HIV and AIDS drugs, in order to curb the scourge. Lesotho and the Region also need financial and technical resources for training and capacity building in HIV and AIDS Programme Implementation and Management.

Mr. President, Lesotho is concerned that the goal of poverty eradication, which is the first MDG and one of the cross-cutting themes of all the major United Nations Conferences and Summits, could elude the international community. Indeed, this critical state of affairs is highlighted in the Economic Report on Africa, 2003, which reflects that in 2002, of the 53 countries in Africa, only five achieved the 7% growth rate required to meet the MDG, while 43 countries registered growth rates below 7% and five countries registered negative growth rates.

Against the back-drop of a democratizing continent, a pre-condition set for assistance by the developed North, there is a growing consensus that the decline in ODA and other financial flows to Africa, increases the marginalization of the Continent in the global economy. Without new inflows of external resources, the pace of development in Africa will forever remain elusive. My delegation therefore wishes to reiterate its appeal to the developed countries to meet the commitments made at all the major United Nations Conferences and also at the Millennium Summit. Furthermore, we wish to stress the need for the review of the list of heavily indebted poor countries and those on the borderline, so that all poor countries like Lesotho, which face debt servicing difficulties, could be considered under the Enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) debt initiative. My delegation also shares the view that debt cancellation for Least Developed Countries should be considered as a viable option for enabling the said countries to inject that money into their economies.

Mr. President, my delegation reiterates the call for increased support to the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). We are aware that Iraq today dominates the world spotlight as also confirmed in recent testimony before the USA Congress which was asked to approve 87 Billion Dollars for the rehabilitation of Iraq. But in sharp contrast, an injection of only about six Billion Dollars into NEPAD, would go a long way in achieving what is a continental agenda.

African leaders need extensive support as they address, inter alia, the root-causes of the agricultural crises in the Continent. For us in Africa, agriculture is the engine of overall growth, for it addresses the very core of people's livelihoods, mainly in the rural areas. It responds to issues of food security and contributes to growth in other economic sectors.

Mr. President, Lesotho is deeply concerned that armed conflicts continue to hinder economic growth in Africa and elsewhere. We are also shocked by several reports of extreme lack of respect for basic principles of international humanitarian law by parties to armed conflicts. Equally regrettable are incidences of egregious violations of the rights of women and children. We therefore commend the United Nations for all its efforts aimed at the elimination of human suffering in armed conflict. Indeed, the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunals, the birth of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and the setting up of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, have brought considerable optimism and proved beyond any doubt that the world has grown weary of impunity. It is our fervent hope that Member States will continue to provide the necessary support and cooperation to these institutions.

Mr. President, Africa hungers for peace. The Continent must never again have to witness acts of violence and atrocities such as those that were recently committed in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia. We hope that the international community will continue to support all endeavours aimed at attaining lasting peace, security and stability in these countries.

My delegation is encouraged by the progress made so far, to restore law and order in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), including the establishment of an all-inclusive transitional government of national unity. The international community has to intensify its efforts to assist millions of the Congolese people, who are not only displaced but are also facing serious food shortages. My delegation is confident that, with the necessary support, the national transition government in the DRC will restore peace and security in the country and heal the deep wounds caused by war and ethnic hatred. We are also gratified that the Security Council mandated a special panel to investigate the plunder of natural resources in the DRC. It is our wish and hope that those responsible will be brought to book.

Mr. President, at last, the people of Angola have peace after one of Africa's long running fratricidal wars. The scars of war in Angola will forever remain deeply embedded in the most vulnerable of the population, that is, women and children of that country, whose motherhood was abused and childhood deprived. Reintegration and rehabilitation assistance to Angola, therefore, should in the main, target these groups.

The future of Somalia continues to hang in the balance despite the efforts by Kenya, IGAD, AU and all other stakeholders to bring an end to carnage in that country. Somalia has been turned into a breeding ground for war-lords who have no respect for human life but greed for power and money. We tend to agree with those who argue that the deployment of an international force would help to facilitate the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration processes. At the end of the day though, the responsibility for bringing peace and reconciliation in Somalia lies, first and foremost, with the Somalis themselves.

Mr. President, at a time when there were positive indicators in the search for a peaceful and acceptable solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine, we are concerned that the recent resumption of a cycle of violence shall render the road map to peace futile. The drastic and repressive measures, the unilateral erection of a wall dividing the two, and re-occupation of Palestinian towns and villages, and the targeting, with the aim to kill HAMAS leaders, are all measures which cannot help the course of ensuring that the Palestinian people enjoy their inalienable rights, including the right to self-determination in a sovereign and independent state. In like manner, the continuing suicide missions by militant groups to kill Israelis indiscriminately, cannot, and must not, be condoned or justified. But then, Mr. President, two stark realities must be addressed. First, that the root-cause of the problem is the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands. Secondly, that no one country can be an honest broker in the Middle East. History itself places some countries so much with one party to the conflict that they cannot, with the best of intentions, be non-partisan.        Consequently, my delegation strongly urges the United Nations to take the initiative and lead the process, and thus lend legitimacy and credibility to the efforts to find an abiding solution.

The same goes for the people of Western Sahara. In the civilized world of the twenty-first century, it is simply untenable that we still have colonisers in some parts ofthe world, in disregard of the widely accepted principles of self-determination and democracy. The international community must intervene so as to bring finality to the status of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic. The brotherly people of Sahara have suffered long enough and totally unduly!

On a positive note, we welcome the lifting of sanctions against Libya by the UN Security Council. Nevertheless, it is our contention that the lifting of the sanctions would have been more significant if all the members of the Security Council had raised their flags in favour.

By the same token, it is now time to collectively address all issues related to the unilateral economic blockade against Cuba. It is simply untenable for the United Nations to look on helplessly when a Member State strangles another Member State of this august body, simply because they hold and practise different economic philosophies or political viewpoints. These truths must be confronted and discussed in honesty and without malice to anybody. Otherwise, our credibility and raison d'etre are called into question.

In conclusion, Mr. President, I wish to refer to the question of the reform of the Security Council. It is now a trite fact that the United Nation's credibility, including its adherence to multilateralism, is being openly questioned. It will take a lot of work to change this perception by the many, especially in the developing world. The UN Secretary-General, Mr. Annan, has on several occasions, stressed the need for "Radical Reform to restore the UN credibility". We therefore applaud the statement that he made to this august body, yesterday, that he intended to establish a High-level Panel of eminent personalities to look into the challenges to peace, security and other global issues. It is our hope that recommendations of this Panel will pave a way to a better international order.

It has been almost ten years since the establishment of an Open-ended Working Group to study all questions relating to equitable representation in the Security Council, including the increase of the membership of the Council. My delegation is of the view that there is an urgent need to accelerate the pace and redouble efforts to bring this matter to a conclusion. Let us face it, the very concept and practice of a veto in the Security Council is simply untenable and totally at variance with democratic principles of our modern times. For one Member with veto to overrule fourteen others, is simply undemocratic. It is patently unjust and contrary to every principle underpinning fair play and world order. My delegation cannot, in all honesty, understand how and why leading champions of democracy can cling so desperately to such an outmoded, primitive and unjust system. The same sacred convictions, truths and beliefs that guided and forced our forbears to abolish slavery, to declare racism and genocide as crimes against humanity, and to declare and uphold the equality of all humans must of necessity guide us in this instance. Otherwise, history will judge and chastise us severely, but justifiably, as dishonest. Such is the naked truth staring us in the face, Mr. President.

I thank you.