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Cablegate: Lesotho Supports Rape Resolution, Ambivalent On

VZCZCXRO0303
PP RUEHMR
DE RUEHMR #0586 2991232
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P R 261232Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY MASERU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3421
INFO RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0091
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0051
RUEHMR/AMEMBASSY MASERU 3822

UNCLAS MASERU 000586

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/S, IO/RHS (ELIZABETH WEPLER, AMY OSTERMEIER, AND
DEEPA GHOSH), IO/UNP (JOHN MARIZ), DRL/MLGA (LYNN SICADE AND
SYLVIA HAMMOND)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL KTIA UN UNGA ETRD IR LT
SUBJECT: LESOTHO SUPPORTS RAPE RESOLUTION, AMBIVALENT ON
COUNTRY-SPECIFIC AND CUBA EMBARGO RESOLUTIONS

REF: A) STATE 148527; B) STATE 147506; AND C) STATE 145641

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On October 26, Poloff delivered reftel
demarches on UN resolutions concerning rape, the Cuba embargo,
and the human rights situation in Iran, Burma, Belarus, and
North Korea to Lesotho's Deputy Principal Secretary of Foreign
Affairs Thabang Lekhela. Mr. Lekhela was strongly supportive on
the rape resolution, skeptical of country-specific Third
Committee resolutions (though offering interesting insights into
Lesotho's actions on human rights issues), and inconclusive
about the Cuba embargo resolution. END SUMMARY.

----------------------------------
Strong Support for Rape Resolution
----------------------------------

2. (SBU) Regarding the U.S.-sponsored resolution against the use
of rape as an instrument of state policy (ref A), Lekhela
plainly stated that Lesotho's MFA would instruct their permanent
representative in New York to support the resolution. He agreed
with Poloff that the resolution was thematic and did not target
any one nation, and that the issue was of great importance.
Noting that "we want this phenomenon gone," Lekhela reiterated
that Lesotho "cares about sexual offenses."

------------------------------------------
Skepticism on Country-Specific Resolutions
------------------------------------------

3. (SBU) On the subject of country-specific UN Third Committee
resolutions on Iran, Burma, Belarus, and North Korea (ref C),
Lekhela said that the Foreign Ministry has not yet taken a firm
position. On the general topic of Third Committee
country-specific resolutions, he cited skepticism about their
effectiveness due to: 1) the danger of appearing
"discriminatory" regarding those nations singled out; 2) the
possibility that such resolutions could make subject nations
"more intransigent"; and 3) the concern that oft repeated
resolutions fostering no change in the human rights situations
in their target nations could make the UN appear "toothless."
He claimed that using friendly neighbor nations as
intermediaries could be a more effective means and changing in
these states.

4. (SBU) Of note, Lekhela stated that Lesotho's concern about
the human rights situation in other regions had led the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs to bring up the subject of human rights
directly with the accredited Iranian Ambassador (resident in
Pretoria). Lekhela stated that Lesotho's concern stemmed from
reports of religious persecution brought to the government's
attention by local members of the Baha'i faith. He noted that
the Iranian Ambassador denied the persecution of Baha'i in Iran.
Lekhela noted somewhat cryptically that Lesotho also raised its
concerns about Zimbabwe "privately."

---------------------------------
Looking at Cuba "From All Angles"
---------------------------------

5. (SBU) With regards to the Cuba-sponsored resolution on the
U.S. embargo (ref B), Lekhela stated that the Foreign Ministry
would "try to look at the issue from all angles." He said that
Lesotho would try to foster a full debate on the issue at the UN
as part of its broader policy of global support for human
rights. (NOTE: Lesotho's King and Foreign Minister are
currently in Cuba and scheduled to return October 28. END NOTE.)

------------------------------
A Win, a Loss, a Question Mark
------------------------------

6. (SBU) COMMENT: Lehkela's statement that Lesotho's mission to
the U.N. would be instructed to support the U.S.-sponsored rape
resolution was one of the strongest promises which we have heard
from Lesotho's MFA in some time. Lesotho's support for "quiet
diplomacy" may pose a continuing obstacle to their backing for
country-specific Third Committee initiatives. And while Poloff
made a strong case for opposition to Cuba's embargo resolution,
Lesotho's King and Foreign Minister likely have heard an earful
of their own during their current trip to the workers' paradise.
END COMMENT.

MURPHY

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