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Letsie III: Address to World Summit 2014

Address to World Summit 2014, Seoul, Korea, August 9-13, 2014

I consider it a great privilege and honor to have been invited by the organizers of this impressive 2nd Summit of the Universal Peace Federation to share with you my thoughts on the subject of peace, security and human development. In the same vein, on behalf of my delegation and on my own behalf, I wish to register our profound gratitude to the government and people of the Republic of Korea for the warm hospitality extended to us and for accepting to host this summit in this beautiful city of Seoul.

This meeting affords us with an opportunity to share ideas on issues pertaining to peace, security and human development. These are three topics which I deem very central to humanity in recent times. This conference on peace, security and human development is being held at a time when relations between countries are overshadowed by dark clouds of tensions and lack of trust. I am however, confident that as we gather here during the course of this week, we will be able to discuss ways and means through which world leaders could join hands in finding lasting solutions to the myriad problems engendered by lack of peace and security all over the globe. I underscore this point conscious of the fact that peace is not a monopoly of the few, but a common heritage for mankind.

Sixty-nine years ago, the United Nations was born as a mechanism for global governance. In setting up this pinnacle organization with universal membership and equality of nations, the leadership of the world and their nations did so driven by the quest for peace, the end of all wars, striving for the development of nations, and the protection and promotion of human rights. At that time, the leaders of the world had the presence of mind to realize that despite the diversity of our opinions, sensitivities, cultures and beliefs, human dignity is a fundamental universal value and therefore central to the peaceful coexistence of nations. Human dignity resonates in all our actions and relationships, and all nations must respect it because it is a basic requirement for peace and human development and, indeed, the strongest weapon against intolerance, hatred and violence.

We in Lesotho do not just subscribe to the principles of the United Nations but also remain steadfastly convinced that the United Nations, with its unique legitimacy, should be at the center of joint global governance. No one can deny that the challenges that we face in the 21st century require a joint global governance system that ensures justice and fairness, in which international law is enforced equally and adjudicated independently. However, the central role of this international institution needs to be restored to its former magnificence and reinforced to reflect the contemporary realities. In this regard, the majority of countries who yearn for genuine peace and justice have rightly called for and continue to call for the reform of this important institution.

All of us are aware that our summit takes place on the heels of a decade that has been particularly troublesome and turbulent. The on-going wars and conflicts around the globe (in Palestine, Nigeria, Kenya, Sudan and Ukraine) are far from being favorable for human advancement and peaceful coexistence. All these forms of instability and absence of peace put into question our claim to civilization. It is therefore with emotion, affection and respect that I wish, at this moment, to pay tribute to all those who, in the service of the United Nations, take risks every day in pursuit of our shared ideal of peace and development. Their fight is a noble one. The respect for universal values and principles of human rights is the basis on which the United Nations’ action must be built. Clearly, joint efforts are needed to deal with many pressing issues of our time. Our ambition to develop a world order based on the universal respect for human dignity was and will always be at the heart of Basotho diplomacy.

In recent times, we have witnessed numerous events and developments that have had a direct impact on the security, peace, progress and future well-being of mankind. These events have also demonstrated that no one country alone can cope with the onerous task of dealing adequately with the three imperatives of our time, which are to save our planet from environmental catastrophe, eliminate poverty and consolidate world peace. They have shown that no one country can single-handedly triumph over the vast arena of transnational threats and challenges that endangers our individual and collective well-being, peace and security.

I have been asking myself, what planet do we want to leave to our children? Are we capable of making ambitious and difficult decisions to fight climate change and preserve our environment? This is a subject that concerns all of us and demands a global partnership. For the world to tackle the emissions of dangerous gases into the atmosphere, there must be a coordinated and binding global agreement that will turn around the existential threat posed by climate change. Most importantly, we must ensure that the commitments we make are implemented and that follow-up mechanisms and effective institutions are put in place. Similarly, unless we vigorously work for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, we will continue to face threats from existing nuclear weapons.

History informs us that 47 years ago this year the Organization of African Unity, which was later transformed into the African Union, was established. We acknowledge that since the founding of this organization, great achievements have been realized. In the three decades or so of its founding, it has focused its energies on, amongst others, the liberation of the African continent from the shackles of colonialism. Sadly, however, and notwithstanding these achievements, the continent continues to be confronted with the formidable challenges of peace and stability. Indeed, the determined efforts by our member states towards socioeconomic recovery and development continue to be severely undermined by the scourge of conflicts on the continent.

The causes of these conflicts are many and varied. They range from ethnic and religious extremism corruption, and exclusionary definitions of citizenship to unfair distribution of Africa’s renewable and non-renewable resources.

The continent also faces the threats posed by transnational organized crime, climate change and by a phenomenon that has become mankind’s greatest challenge in the 21st century, namely, terrorism. The scourge of terrorism, wars, kidnappings and crime continues to claim lives of many people in the African continent and around the world. Under these conditions, there can be no human development. Furthermore, Africa has recently witnessed the resurgence of conditionalities that were clearly spelt out in the OAU Algiers and Lome declarations on unconstitutional takeover of government.

These negative developments have a bearing on and undermine the democratization processes set in motion since the early 1990s. Because tensions or conflicts can no longer be contained or localized, it stands to reason that these challenges require our collective resolve and determination to find durable and lasting solutions, in partnership with the United Nations Security Council, whose universal mandate, as I have already underscored, is to maintain peace and security.

Global peace and security cannot be realized if a significant number of people on the globe still have to cope with the challenges of poverty and under-development, lack of access to education, quality health care and equal access to basic amenities. Nearly 15 years ago, world leaders met and adopted the agreement spelling out eight important goals (MDGs). The MDGs identify the core issues that drive socio-economic development and therefore pave the way for a peaceful world. The adoption of these goals injected some impetus into the development pace of different nations. However, as we approach the set target date for their full implementation, we realize with great concern that progress has been rather sluggish on some while it has been good on others. This, therefore, prescribes a fresh challenge to all nations to begin to think about the post-2015 agenda.

In November 2012, world leaders converged in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and recommitted themselves to sustainable development and to ensuring the promotion of an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable future for our planet and for present and future generations. We are now discussing sustainable goals that will build on the MDGs beyond 2015. We are also reviewing progress on the Cairo Consensus of 1994 on population and development with a view to integrating population fully in our development agenda beyond 2015.

Our performance to date calls for a strong post-2015 plan; it must be bold and yet simple. It must be supported by a new and effective partnership for development that recognizes the valuable inputs and catalytic role played by various stakeholders including foreign and local civil society and the private sector.

Let me conclude my remarks by reminding all of us that. In our quest to attain human development, we must always remember that peace and security remain the sine qua non for socioeconomic development. The fight against terrorism, the elimination of corruption, the resolve to advocate for good governance and the upholding of democratic principles, as well as respect for human rights and the rights of peoples remain a compulsory venture for all peace-loving humanity. Finally, I am hopeful that the second World Summit of the Universal Peace Federation will contribute effectively to the ongoing global debate on peace, security and human development and thereby securing human dignity. I wish full success to our meeting.

.For more information about the World Summit, click here.