Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield’s Interview with Anita Powell of Voice of America

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
Washington, D.C.
December 13, 2022


QUESTION:  Let’s just talk about the idea of having an AU seat on the G20 and African representation on the UNSC. What are the merits of that and how soon could we see that actually happen?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD:  There are 54 countries on the continent of Africa, over a billion people. We need to include these voices in these key institutions. And the President made clear that the Security Council needs to be more representative, it needs to be more inclusive. And he stated very categorically that we support having an African permanent representative on the Security Council, we support additional elected members of the Security Council, and we support the African Union being on the G20.

QUESTION:  Let’s talk about just the carrots and sticks that you have to influence African countries to back the U.S. in its condemnation of Russia. What tools do you have available and how are you using them?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD:  Well, first and foremost, we don’t use sticks.  The Russians have accused the U.S. of threatening countries. They’ve accused us of coercing countries into voting with the United States. And I have never used coercion; the United States has never used coercion. We talk about the importance of the values of supporting the UN Charter, the value of supporting democracy, the value of supporting a country – Ukraine – that has been attacked by a larger neighbor. And these are values that we think are important to every single country. We’re not paying countries to vote for condemning Russia and we’re not threatening countries who decide not to vote. But we are appealing to them; we’re appealing to their values, we’re appealing to right versus wrong.

QUESTION:  Let’s just talk about the objective of a possible Biden visit to Africa. What would be the point of such a visit? What would it accomplish?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD:  Well, it will reaffirm even more strongly the U.S. commitment to the continent of Africa, to the people of Africa. Every single time we’ve had a presidential visit – and I was on the visit when President Obama went in 2014; I was in Africa when President Bush went – and I have seen the value that people really – just the emotions that they feel when a U.S. president comes to their country.

So this will be an opportunity for the people of Africa – whatever countries, if the President decides to make such a visit – that they will actually see our commitment to them. And really, I think it’s a great honor for the President to travel to the continent.

QUESTION:  Final question, on the Iran vote tomorrow. Do you think you have the numbers?  And what message would it send if you —

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD:  Look, we’ll know tomorrow. But what we are saying to everyone is this is what – this is what the Iranian women have asked for. This is the right time to do this. And it is the right thing to do. Right now, women in Iran are being killed. You don’t want a country on the Commission on the Status of Women who are killing women and even threatening to execute a man who has expressed his support for those women.

So tomorrow we will have a vote, and we are looking forward to continuing to work with those countries that support this effort.

QUESTION:  Thank you so much.