The vote was 78 to 20 and its confirmation comes less than a week before the United States presides over the UN Security Council for March. Following her swearing-in, she will travel to New York and is expected to present her credentials to UN Secretary-General Antnio Guterres on Thursday.
Thomas-Greenfield, a respected career ambassador who was dumped under the Trump administration, was one of President Joe Biden’s top picks for his national security team. Upon his appointment, President-elect Biden announced he was returning the UN post to a Cabinet-level post.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken congratulated Thomas-Greenfield in a statement Tuesday afternoon, noting that his confirmation “reinforces President Biden’s commitment to restore and expand US leadership on the world stage.”
“Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield is a seasoned diplomat, deeply committed to American values and the right choice to rebuild our nation’s position at the UN and in other multilateral forums,” he said.
In its first month, the Biden administration took a number of steps to restore both U.S. participation in the multilateral body, including the return of the Paris Climate Agreement, the decision to join the UN Human Rights Council and the end of the US withdrawal from the World Health Organization.
During his confirmation hearing last month, Thomas-Greenfield pledged to hold China to account at the international forum and spoke of the need for the United States to be present there.
“When America presents itself – when we are consistent and persistent – when we exercise our influence in accordance with our values - the UN can be an indispensable institution in advancing peace, security and our collective well-being,” he said. – she told the Senate External Relations Committee.
“If instead we step away from the table and allow others to fill the void, the world community suffers – and American interests too,” she said. “In particular: we know that China is working through the United Nations system to drive an authoritarian agenda that opposes the institution’s founding values - American values. Their success depends on our continued withdrawal. This will not happen under my supervision. “
Her experiences in posts in Africa, including as Ambassador to Liberia, and her time as a senior U.S. diplomat in the Office of African Affairs are likely to be a boon to her as she takes on the UNSC presidency. , as a high percentage of the Security Council. business concerns the continent.
She will take office as the United States seeks to revive diplomacy with Iran, deal with the ongoing Houthi aggression while ending US support for the Yemen offensive and undertaking a series of political reviews from Afghanistan to Russia to North Korea.
While it will likely be on the same page with its European Security Council partners, it is expected to face challenges on multiple fronts from China and Russia.
Nonetheless, UN diplomats are very enthusiastic about his arrival, especially after four years of the Trump administration lambasting and neglecting the organization. Current and former American diplomats have hailed Thomas-Greenfield as an ideal candidate to restore the status of the United States and rebuild the credibility of the venerable multilateral institution.
UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said the secretary-general “looks forward” to working with Thomas-Greenfield on issues such as climate change, Covid-19 and many other issues on a common agenda . Dujarric said Guterres knew Thomas-Greenfield well from his previous work on refugee issues.
“This is an inspired appointment,” said Irish Ambassador to the United Nations Geraldine Byrne Nason, who said she looked forward to working with Thomas-Greenfield.
“Linda Thomas Greenfield is exactly the right fit for the job right now,” said Elizabeth Cousens, President and CEO of the United Nations Foundation. “She has decades of experience on the American foreign policy front. She has worked in a wide variety of international settings. She is exceptionally well regarded among all the diplomats with whom she has served.”
“It will be accepted by the diplomatic community, not only in New York but around the world, because the vacuum in American leadership at the UN has come at such a cost and it has led countries around the world to recognize that the nations, multilateral cooperation, are so much stronger when the United States is an active player working with partners to solve common challenges, ”Cousens told CNN before Thomas-Greenfield’s confirmation.“ And so she will come with it, I think, a real appetite for others to see America at the table again, and that’s really what she will be able to do. “
Thomas-Greenfield, who grew up in the isolated Deep South, is the first black woman to be confirmed to a ministerial-level position in the Biden administration. At the time of his appointment, several people told CNN that Biden’s choice of a black woman for ambassador to the UN sent an important message, especially in a department known to be “pale, masculine and Yale. “.
“Just having a black woman head the transition and possibly head the US mission in New York is a big deal,” a senior diplomat told CNN at the time. “And that it was a black woman who was fired by Trump is even more of a statement.”
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