Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
December 7, 2023
QUESTION: This is the Joy News Channel, live from the Accra International Conference Centre on the sidelines of the UN Peacekeeping Ministerial meeting. I have the rare opportunity to interact with the U.S. Representative to the UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield. Thank you so much for joining us here on the Joy News Channel. We are indeed grateful.
AMBASSADOR LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Good, thank you so much. I am delighted to be here with you.
QUESTION: Ghana treated you so far – well so far?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: So far – so far so good. Ghana’s hospitality has been amazing. Ghana’s preparation for this event has been extraordinary. The attendance has been huge. So, it’s been a great experience, and having Ghana be the host of the peacekeeping summit, I think, is a real coup for Ghana.
QUESTION: Well, that said, I would like us to take a look at Ghana’s security situation. It’s a crucial time, especially when we are going into an election year. What would be your own assessment of the security situation in Ghana, and taking into consideration what we ought to put in place ahead of the election?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Look, as we look at the region, as we look at the neighborhood that Ghana is in, Ghana is relatively stable. And as I said yesterday, Ghana is a country that delivers peace. You have been an active participant in peacekeeping. I visited a training center yesterday for training police who are going out to the field. Ghana has been a very successful member of the Security Council for the past two years, and really worked hard on issues of peace and security across the region but also around the world. So, Ghana, I think, is in good stead as we move forward in the coming year.
QUESTION: Well, but looking at the fact that Ghana sits in the middle of a recent spate of coup waves around us, amongst others, our contribution and what we can do to also fortify ourselves against such happenings around us, you would say?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, certainly Ghana is aware of that, and I think as Ghana looks at its own security situation, it is working to partner with other countries in the region through ECOWAS; it is partnering with us and other donors to support their efforts to improve security here in Ghana but also to take issues of security – peace and security to other places in the world.
QUESTION: But our contribution – and some will say that we are not really immune to such happenings. What are we doing right? What do we have to do better going forward to ensure that we sustain that immunity?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: You know, Ghana is a strong democracy. You have had a long history of transfer of power from one elected government to the next, changing from one party to another party. Your institutions are extraordinarily strong. That does not make Ghana immune from insecurity. So, what that means is Ghana has to pay attention to its security just like other countries in the region, but they are partnering with us, they’re partnering with others to ensure stability here.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, speaking of Ghana, we’ll get into our neighbors still, but the issue about the laws – the right laws, human rights issues coming up has been topical over the period. From where you sit, in order to prevent abuses in terms of formulation of our laws, amongst others, what would you say would be the caution to Ghana in that regard?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: You know, countries have to respect human rights. Ghana has a history of respecting human rights, and this is something that we hope will continue in Ghana. Ghana has just been elected to the Human Rights Council. Being on the Human Rights Council has certain responsibilities, and we hope that as a member of the Human Rights Council, Ghana will show its strong respect for human rights, for inclusion, and ensuring that all of Ghana’s citizens benefit from Ghana’s constitution.
QUESTION: In that regard, so far you would say we are on the right path, we’re on course when it comes to that?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I think you’re on the right path. None of us are perfect, by any means. Even my own country – we’re not perfect. But not being perfect does not mean you can’t continue a process of making your country better, your democracy stronger, your constitution more representative, and your country more inclusive.
QUESTION: African countries and our preparedness in responding to issues about terrorism, for instance, cyber security threat, other issues about drugs, amongst others. Where are we falling short when it comes to dealing with these particular issues, you would say?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: You know, I think countries have to invest more in their people. They have to invest more in education. They have to invest more in job creation, and ensuring that rights are protected for their citizens. The first step toward autocracy is stepping on the rights of citizens. And so, I think we have to continue to press that message, that human rights is an important element of stability.
QUESTION: Well, the issue about partnership with the U.S. has been longstanding. What roles you envision that the U.S. will be playing in terms of fostering these partnerships further and helping, especially in the area of security?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, you know, one of the themes of the summit these past two days is partnerships. And we are partnering with Ghana as well as other countries to build capacity, to provide equipment and support to countries that are addressing issues of terrorism to ensure that they have the ability to respond should anything happen.
QUESTION: Should Ghana be worried when it comes to the issue about terrorism, you would say?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Every one of us should be worried about terrorism. When I look back on the United States and the 9/11 attack – and I’m living in New York now, so I’ve visited the memorial there – almost every country was represented in the list of people who were killed. So, we all have to continue to worry about terrorism. But we have to do more than worry. We have to work to prevent it.
QUESTION: There are some who would say that with your presence in Ghana, it means that there’s a lot of good news coming up in terms of partnership with Ghana and the U.S. Any such good news in the offing very soon, you would say?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Look, the Vice President was here, so – [laughter] – my presence is minor compared to having the Vice President be in Ghana. What that has signified is that we have strong respect for Ghana, we want to partner with Ghana, we’re engaging with Ghana to address a large number of issues. We have a USAID program here that is one of the largest on the continent of Africa. So, the partnership is strong and growing.
QUESTION: Well, the U.S. has done a lot for Ghana, and the question now is what can Ghana do for the U.S. with you here. What exactly would be your expectations in terms of what Ghana can also do for the U.S.?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: You know, Ghana can stay on course as a democracy. Ghana can stay on course as a strong partner. I am really extraordinarily pleased to have partnered with Ghana for the past two years on the Security Council. And I know that the United States looks forward to partnering with Ghana on the Human Rights Council. So that partnership is mutual. It’s not just us giving to Ghana, but it is also Ghana giving to us.
You know that American tourism is huge here in Ghana, particularly among African Americans, but also across the board. Ghana has welcomed American tourists. It’s welcomed the diaspora community. Large numbers of Americans have moved to Ghana and are living in Ghana, and Ghana’s hospitality is also part of that partnership.
QUESTION: And what they say: long should our partnership live. Thank you so much for giving us this opportunity to interact with you. We are indeed grateful.
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you very much.
QUESTION: That’s Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield. We’re grateful for your time, and we’re hoping that you’ll be back in Ghana soon so we give you some more treats in terms of our hospitality.
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: This is my third trip to Ghana since I started this job, and I certainly look forward to returning.
QUESTION: It’s beyond a return in December, so I’m sure you will have a good time in Ghana. Thank you so much.
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you.
QUESTION: Thank you.