Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
March 28, 2023
QUESTION: The Biden Administration is training a spotlight on global democracy. This week, the United States is joining the Netherlands, South Korea, Zambia, and Costa Rica as co-hosts of the Second Summit for Democracy, which is in Costa Rica. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield leads the U.S. delegation. Ambassador, what would you consider to be the biggest threat to democracy worldwide?
AMBASSADOR LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, certainly the biggest threat is authoritarianism. And this Summit is about highlighting the importance of democratic resilience and increasing the participation of young people in democracies and showing that democracies do deliver to their people.
QUESTION: You know, Ambassador, I remember the Biden Administration saying a while ago, or not that long ago, that technology needs to help support democratic freedoms. How can technology help do that?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: You know, technology can be a double-edged sword. But in protecting freedoms, it provides information, it opens – it gives people access to information about what their governments are doing, how their governments are performing. And it also gives people a platform to actually have conversations about what is happening in their countries, and democracies allow that to happen. And in authoritarian systems you see will regularly that they block access to technology, they block access to information, they block freedoms.
QUESTION: Yeah. And more information, obviously better than less information.
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Absolutely.
QUESTION: Did the planet make progress in democracy, in human rights since the first Summit that was in 2021?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Actually, this is what the Second Summit is about. It’s about the progress that countries have made since the First Summit and highlighting those countries that have made progress in those areas, and there are a number of countries. I mean, if we look at a country like Angola, Angola has taken steps to create an independent judiciary, Albania took significant steps toward judicial reform, and Albania is on the Security Council with us. So, we’re highlighting those countries that made commitments and countries that actually followed through on their commitments.
QUESTION: Now China is excluded from the Summit, but Taiwan is going to participate. Beijing accuses the U.S. of widening divisions between China and the West. What’s your response, Ambassador, to that?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, look, we know that China is an authoritarian government, and Taiwan has remained a solid democratic partner. They actively engaged in the Summit for Democracy the first time around, and we have invited them because they have consistently continued to move their democracy, their efforts to improve their democracy, forward. And China, you know, in terms of our relationship with China, we still have one China policy. But that doesn’t change the fact that through our Taiwan Relations Act, we can continue to engage.*
QUESTION: Then one more thing on China because I know over the weekend Honduras cut diplomatic relations with Taiwan in favor of ties to Beijing, will this Summit in Costa Rica do anything to try and counter China’s influence in Latin America?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: You know, China’s influence in Latin America is only important to the extent that it counters our influence. And we have strong relations with Latin America. We certainly appreciate the fact that governments are sovereign; they can make sovereign decisions. But we’ll continue to deepen and expand our engagements with these countries, as well as with Taiwan in line with what has been our long standing one China policy.
QUESTION: That’s UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield. Thank you very much.
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you very much.
*But that doesn’t change the fact that through our Taiwan Relations Act, we can continue to engage.
with this country that is a solid democracy.