Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
December 14, 2022
QUESTION 1: Madam Ambassador, thank you so much. Why don’t you answer the question for Americans who, I know, when they hear this are asking the question: how in the world would Iran ever get on such a commission? It’s the same question that people often ask when they see how some of the worst abusers of human rights in the world are on the UN’s Human Rights Council. So let – explain to Americans, first of all, how Iran would end up on this council in the first place.
AMBASSADOR LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: It’s interesting that countries that tend to be abusers want to be part of institutions and organizations where they know they will be criticized. So Iran ran for a seat and they won. But today is the right day to remove them from the Commission on the Status of Women. There is no place for them when they are killing women in the streets, as we speak. This is the right time to do it, and it’s – it really is the right thing to do, and we will be voting at about 10 o’clock this morning or a little bit later and removing them from the council.
QUESTION 2: And what is the message you are hoping to send to Iran by doing so?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: There are two messages here. The first is to the Iranian Government that we will not stand by and allow them to sit on this commission that was created to protect women, to promote women, to support women. We will not let them sit at the table with us. And second, the second message, is to Iranian women that we heard your voices and we support you. Iranian women have asked us to do this. We heard them and we are moving forward.
QUESTION 2: And speaking of Iranian women, it’s not just the killing of Masah Amini. There are reports of torture, of men protesters being taken in and tortured as well as women. What are you all finding out about the abuses that are happening in light of the death of Masah Amini and then the protests that happened and are still happening?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We have seen those reports and they are credible reports. We heard just this week that a young soccer player who protested has been threatened with execution. This is the sign of a regime that does not respect any of its people, men or women, and it is time to hold them accountable.
QUESTION 3: Ambassador, good morning, Jonathan Lemire. On that note, there seems to be a real escalation and reprisals from the government there, a couple of public executions in recent days. So I wanted to get, first and foremost, your reaction to that. But also, do you anticipate that anyone opposing this measure today to try to remove Iran from this group? Are there other nations you feel like might side with Tehran?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: What is happening on the streets of Iran is really horrific, what the government is doing to attack protesters. And that’s why we think this action today is so important. And there are governments who have made arguments that we’ve never kicked a Member State off of an organization related to the UN. But again, we think that this is the appropriate action for us to take now given what is happening with Iran. We know that there is tremendous support for this action, and we’ll vote on it today.
QUESTION 3: And Madam Ambassador, we also, of course, have seen that the UN is not always unanimous when it comes to matters of Russia, so give us the latest there. As this war goes on now, we’re in the depths of winter, we’re nearing the year mark in this conflict. What more can the United Nations do to put pressure on Putin or support Kyiv as the conflict rages forward?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Again, two things here. First, we have to keep the pressure on Putin. We cannot allow there to be any light between this unified coalition that we have built here in New York to condemn the actions that the Russians have taken against Ukraine. And secondly, we have to continue to show the Ukrainians that we support them, to send a message of support.
I was in Ukraine a few weeks ago. I met with President Zelenskyy. I met with women and children who were living in a shelter after their village had been attacked, and there was no water and no electricity. And what impressed me there was their resilience, their commitment to continue to stand strong, and President Zelenskyy’s resolve to ensure that he continued to fight for the people of Ukraine. And for that reason we have to show Ukraine here at the United Nations as well as around the world that we support their efforts to defend their sovereignty and their territorial integrity.
QUESTION 2: Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, thank you very much for coming on this morning. And of course, we’ll be watching the vote at the UN a little bit later on today.
QUESTION 3: Thanks so much.
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you.