The following information reports U.S. Government priorities and activities of the U.S. mission in Lesotho to promote democracy and human rights. For background on Lesotho's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
and the International Religious Freedom Reports
Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives
The U.S. Government's engagement with the government seeks to achieve the following goal: the development of a stable, democratic, and prosperous country that continues to improve its record as a voice for positive change in international fora, both regionally and globally. Specifically, the U.S. Government is focusing its efforts in these areas: advancing democracy and respect for the rule of law; combating trafficking in persons; reversing the devastating HIV/AIDS pandemic; mitigating the threats of international crime and terrorism; encouraging sustainable economic growth; and promoting awareness and support for these efforts through public diplomacy.
Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance
The U.S. Government takes full advantage of speaker and International Visitor Leadership programs to address issues of democracy and trafficking in persons. In 2010 the U.S. mission is bringing strategic speakers on elections and trafficking in persons to the country. The embassy also maintains an active dialogue with all political parties and civil society representatives, stressing the importance of free and fair elections, as well as the need for the country to implement a plan of action for combating trafficking, including the passage of a comprehensive antitrafficking law. In the past year the U.S. Government hosted the third in a series of three workshops on trafficking in persons, targeting prosecution, immigration, and law enforcement, and providing more detailed information about how to recognize traffickers. The U.S. Government has become an active part of the country's Multi-Sectoral Committee to Combat Trafficking in Persons. The mission recently participated as part of a six-member group that drafted terms of reference for a national action plan on trafficking.
In the health and economic development arena, the U.S. Government works with partners such as the International Labor Organization (ILO) and International Finance Corporation (IFC). The U.S. Government focuses on HIV/AIDS, particularly in the area of prevention. At present, U.S.-funded partners are working to refurbish over 130 health clinics and hospitals around the country; increase the supply of water for domestic and commercial use; and strengthen the private sector through initiatives like creating a commercial court. U.S. Peace Corps volunteers advance freedom and democracy by teaching in secondary schools and building the capacity of host country nationals, service providers, and organizations through training and technical assistance in areas such as management, life skills, food security, and income generation. In addition, all Peace Corps volunteers in the country are expected to integrate HIV prevention and care activities into their assignment. The U.S. Government continues to support the ILO and IFC's collaborative work to strengthen the capacity of workers' and employers' organizations to engage in social dialogue and improve enterprise compliance with labor standards and economic performance.
In 2010 the U.S. mission created a Facebook page to deliver messages about democracy to an audience of more than 100 Basotho "fans." A recent posting about trafficking in persons garnered comments from the community. The embassy also recently posted updates from the local papers about the ongoing political mediation process in the country. The U.S. Government seeks to improve public diplomacy capabilities, design improved strategic public diplomacy plans, and increase the effectiveness of existing programs in the country over the next year.