Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
San Francisco, California
September 8, 2022
QUESTION: Let me ask you first – not necessarily what I planned to ask you about, but given the news of Queen Elizabeth, any reactions or remembrances to…
AMBASSADOR LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Extraordinarily sad to hear about the passing of the Queen. I was passed that notice as I was giving my speech to the UN Council, and I was really devastated by the news. We were given some hints in the press early this morning that she had begun to fall ill, but none of us realized how quickly it would happen.
QUESTION: It developed very quick. Now let’s talk about the visit here to San Francisco. No coincidence being in this building, and important history to the UN. So can you talk a little bit about the trip to the Bay Area and San Francisco?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, I wanted to have an opportunity to talk about the UN and talk about the UN Charter and the extraordinary work that we do and the United Nations does to promote peace and security, and it started here in San Francisco 77 years ago. So I thought to come here to talk about our vision for the future, how we make the UN fit for purpose for the next generation – this was the absolute right place to do that, and I had an extraordinary experience this morning with the UN Foundation and all of its members sharing our vision.
QUESTION: And what do you see as the most important vision and mission right now of the UN? I mean, given the context of what’s happening in Ukraine and a lot of world issues right now, where do you see the UN heading?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: The world has begun to question the UN. They are – their confidence has wavered because a Permanent Member of the Security Council attacked its neighbor against all the principles of the UN Charter. And countries and people want to see us take actions against that country. And I’ve had the opportunity to share what we have done. We isolated Russia. We have condemned Russia. Russia was suspended from the Human Rights Council. And Russia’s goals in Ukraine have not been achieved, and we’ve made sure that at every opportunity we’ve highlighted what they have done to the Ukrainian people, including these filtration camps that they are taking people to where they are being tortured, they are having their identities taken, and they’re being forced to move into the farthest parts of Russia – and that’s a human rights violation. It’s a war crime, and Russia should be held accountable for that.
QUESTION: I know you just met with the Security Council on that issue. I mean, are there actions the UN can take to sort of force the issue on that?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, certainly yesterday was a forcing event because we brought to the attention of the world what Russia is doing with these filtration camps, and we have demanded that Russia allow the UN, NGOs, and humanitarian organizations to have access to the people that they have taken into these camps. We’re demanding that they take responsibility for the thousands of children who’ve been taken from their parents, who are being forcibly adopted by Russians. And this is against all the principles of the Geneva Conventions, and Russia will be held to account for this.
QUESTION: And I know, on a different subject, one of the issues you’re passionate about is food insecurity. What steps would you like to see taken on that front?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, certainly what we will be doing during High-Level Week, we will be highlighting the importance of dealing with the issues of food insecurity. So President Biden will be hosting a ministerial on food insecurity with the more than 100 countries that signed the roadmap to deal with issues of food insecurity, and we will be looking for solutions. It’s not about admiring the problem; it’s about finding solutions for addressing these issues. And the U.S. has been in the forefront – first in providing humanitarian assistance, billions of dollars in humanitarian assistance. We’ve given $7-plus billion to the World Food Program. We’ve given additional money bilaterally to countries to deal with this issue. And then look at how we can work with other countries to get them to commit to not taking actions that will contribute to making the food insecurity more dire. And this will be something that will be extraordinarily important to address during High-Level Week.
QUESTION: And just to finish off, let me just ask you about your time at the UN. Have you seen a transition in the way the other nations – the perceptions of the U.S. in moving from administrations, just how that’s changed.
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, first and foremost, when I arrived in New York as the representative of the Biden Administration, I was warmly embraced. Every single country I met with welcomed our presence. They welcomed us back to the multilateral scene. They expressed some concerns about whether we were there for – we were going to be there for the long term. And we’ve made clear that we are committed and that commitment is ironclad and it goes all the way to the top. And we’ve had tremendous impact over the past two years that we’ve been back, and we hope to continue to really reaffirm our commitment to the multilateral system, to our allies, to our friends and working to deal with the issues of peace and security around the globe.
QUESTION: Thank you so much for your time.
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you.