Explanation of Vote Delivered by Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield on Russia’s Amendments to a UNSC Resolution Condemning Houthi Attacks in the Red Sea

Explanation of Vote Delivered by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield Following the Adoption of a UN Security Council Resolution Condemning Houthi Attacks on Commercial Shipping in the Red Sea

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
January 10, 2024


Thank you, Mr. President, and Happy New Year to colleagues, as this is my first meeting of the year.

Colleagues, we voted against all three of Russia’s amendments which were put forward, we believe, in bad faith – at the last minute – and, as is often the case, were divorced from reality. We voted against Russia’s amendment that falsely suggested the conflict in Gaza is the cause of the Houthis’ brazenly opportunistic attacks.

The Houthis are simply intoxicated with power. This amendment would further embolden the Houthis and established a dangerous precedent for the Council to legitimize these violations of international law. As the resolution acknowledges, regional dynamics, including Iran’s provision of advanced weapons – which enable the Houthis to target merchant and commercial vessels, have contributed to this situation. The facts are indisputable: the Houthis are targeting a range of vessels, few of which are owned or operated by Israelis.

And so, what is at issue here is not any particular conflict – but rather – the simple principle of upholding freedom of navigation in a waterway vital to the free flow of global commerce. This Council should never legitimize brazen violations of international law. Period.

We also voted against a Russian amendment that removed a reference to states’ rights of self-defense. It is long-established that states have a right to defend merchant and commercial vessels from attacks. That is what the United States and the United Kingdom did yesterday, when our ships came under attack by the Houthis. If the Houthi attacks continue, there will be consequences.

The bottom line is this: our Russian colleagues had ample time and opportunity to offer up edits during negotiations – and we consulted closely with all Council members throughout this process. Once again, Russia tried to play politics with this Council – and we were glad to see a majority of Member States stand against the gamesmanship.

Thank you, Mr. President.