Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield’s Interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
August 1, 2023


QUESTION: Ambassador, it’s great to have you here today.

AMBASSADOR LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you. Delighted to be here.

QUESTION: So for the layman out there, what does it mean for the United States to have the presidency, the head seat at the table on the Security Council?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: It’s a rotating seat, and as the president of the Security Council, you get to set the agenda for the month. You preside over the Council’s actions during that month and you are really in the hotseat.

QUESTION: And the elephant in the room, as we were just discussing, is that Russia also sits at that table as a –


QUESTION: – permanent member of the Security Council. For the last let’s call it a year and a half, what has that been like to sit – and you do. You sit and you discuss issues and you kind of go at it. What’s it like to sit across from Russia now?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: When we’re sitting across the table, we’re adversaries. It can sometimes be very tense. Russia vetoed a resolution that provided for food assistance across the border into Syria against the will of 13 other Council members. So the tensions can be seen when we’re sitting across the table from each other. But there are times when we can come together in consensus. We voted on a Haiti resolution recently, and which we all supported.

QUESTION: So, Madam Ambassador, as the ancient saying goes, someday this war will be over.


QUESTION: But in the interim, Russia has virtually destroyed a country, Ukraine – destroyed it. In addition to that, they have now begun attacking Odesa, an important port that gets food and grain out to other countries. Specifically, I want to talk about the continent of Africa –


QUESTION: – which is littered with hungry people, a vastly young population. You don’t have to be a genius to know where the immigration flow is going to come from. It’s already begun and it’s going to overwhelm Europe, at least. What is the UN doing about something that everyone knows is coming?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: The UN has called a very, very strong appeal to the world, which we are supporting, to continue to support the needs of more than 700 million people who go to bed hungry every single night. And that’s why I have, for the third time – my third presidency – brought food insecurity to the top of the agenda. We are the largest donor. About 40 percent of the World Food Program that provides humanitarian assistance – we provide 40 percent of that. We’re supporting the humanitarian actions of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. They have the responsibility for protecting individuals.

But Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine has exacerbated a situation that has already had an impact on the world, and we are calling them out for it. We’re asking the world to condemn their actions. Their attacks on Odesa are unacceptable – attacks on the grain infrastructure of Ukraine, the grain infrastructure that provides needed food assistance to Africa and the Middle East as well as elsewhere in the world.

QUESTION: So, Madam Ambassador, that’s obviously a big piece of the food insecurity priority, but your other is about human rights.


QUESTION: And it’s one thing to call out Syria or North Korea, but what’s the message going to be during your presidency here to China, which, of course, has its own human rights issues with the Uyghurs and others?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: China has heard our message, and China will continue to hear our message of concerns about how they treat the Uyghur population in China. This is a message that we have been very, very vocal about, very clear on in the Security Council, and we will continue to raise that issue.

QUESTION: Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, as of this morning, president for this month of the United Nations Security Council, thanks for being here today. We appreciate it.