United States Mission to the United Nations
Office of Press and Public Diplomacy
For Immediate Release
December 30, 2023
Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield and the United States Mission to the United Nations (USUN) showcased American leadership at the United Nations, around the world, and across the country—advancing U.S. interests and delivering on Biden Administration policy goals.
In 2023, USUN advanced humanitarian relief efforts, including leading initiatives to combat global food insecurity, and worked to rally international cooperation to renew international resolve towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. In addition, USUN championed U.S. priorities on human rights and defended the core values of the UN Charter, including consistently standing up to Russia’s violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. USUN also managed challenges posed by the conflict in Gaza, both responding to Hamas’s atrocious terrorist attacks against Israel and promoting humanitarian assistance and civilian safety in Gaza.
What’s more, USUN worked with partners across the UN system to modernize its processes and workforce to achieve better results. That included launching new initiatives to increase the number of American citizens working at the UN, leading reform efforts to ensure the UN is fit for purpose, and advancing Biden Administration initiatives to bolster democracy, engage youth, and recruit a more diverse workforce that better represents the American people.
This year, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield took this agenda to the road, traveling to 12 countries and nine cities across the U.S. to make the case for U.S. foreign policy priorities.
In 2023, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations has:
Countered Threats to Peace and Stability While Fostering and Building Alliances
- Across multiple continents and conflicts, USUN led efforts to create and maintain peace – and hold those committing atrocities accountable.
- USUN spearheaded efforts to address the crisis in Haiti, helping to adopt a resolution – co-penned by the U.S. and Ecuador – to authorize a Multinational Security Support mission. This mission, led by Kenya, would provide critical international support for the Haitian National Police to address gang violence and pave the way toward long-term stability in the country. USUN also led efforts to strengthen the mandate of the Special Political Mission, the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH). In December, the Security Council sanctioned four notorious gang leaders who have undermined peace and security in Haiti by unleashing unspeakable violence and suffering on Haitian citizens.
- USUN consistently pushed for Security Council unity in condemning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)’s reckless and dangerous behavior as the country launched multiple ballistic missiles — including at least five intercontinental ballistic missile launches— in violation of multiple Security Council Resolutions.
During its presidency of the Security Council, USUN held the first Security Council open briefing on Sudan since the start of the conflict. Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield traveled to the Chad-Sudan border to galvanize the international community to help protect civilians affected by the conflict.
- USUN and likeminded partners called for investigations into violations of UN Security Council resolutions resulting from Russia’s procurement of weapons and material from Iran and the DPRK.
- The United States led a high-level event focused on coalition-building to address the growing threat of synthetic drugs – and facilitated the drafting, negotiation, and consensus adoption of a General Assembly resolution to tackle the public health and security threats posed by synthetic drugs and weaken transnational criminal organizations.
- Following Hamas’ October 7th attacks against Israel, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield and USUN advocated for increased humanitarian assistance into Gaza, as well as the inclusion of Israel’s right to defend itself, a condemnation of Hamas, and calls for the return of hostages in key UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions. All the while, the U.S. remained the leading supporter of the efforts of UNRWA and other humanitarian organizations on the ground in Gaza. In addition, the U.S. worked with other Council members to craft a humanitarian-focused resolution in the Security Council to help ensure humanitarian personnel and assistance, including fuel, food, medical supplies, and emergency shelter assistance, can reach the people of Gaza.
- As head of the U.S. delegation to the UN Peacekeeping Ministerial in Ghana, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield highlighted U.S. leadership and commitment to improving peacekeeping effectiveness through a series of financial and programmatic commitments.
- Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield worked to secure the unanimous adoption of a UN Security Council resolution on the financing of African Union-led peace support operations. This resolution outlines a framework for the use of UN funds to support the deployment of AU-led missions to promote peace and security across the African continent – and is a major steppingstone toward empowering AU missions to respond to Africa’s growing security challenges.
Continued to Bring Global Food Insecurity to the Forefront
- For Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield’s third Security Council presidency in August 2023, the United States again made combatting food insecurity a signature priority – becoming the only permanent member of the Security Council to devote its presidency to the same issue for multiple years in a row, an important signal and commitment.
USUN spearheaded the passage of the first Security Council product addressing food insecurity in over five years, a Security Council Presidential Statement condemning the use of food as a weapon of war.
- In concert with USUN’s work on combatting food insecurity in the Security Council, nearly 100 UN Member States from around the world signed on to a U.S.-drafted communique on ending the use of food as a weapon of war.
- In response to Russia’s attacks on critical food infrastructure in Ukraine, the United States catalyzed multiple UN Security Council meetings to draw attention to the global impacts of such attacks and Russia’s threats against maritime security in the Black Sea. USUN also worked to continue diplomatic efforts to secure Black Sea routes to keep Ukraine’s grain flowing to food-insecure regions around the globe.
- In addition to USUN’s work in the Security Council and other UN fora, USUN brought this message to the world, including during travel to Mogadishu, Somalia, where Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield implored the international community to step up to avert famine in the Horn of Africa while announcing millions in new funding from the United States for Somalia.
Advanced Progress on Global Development and the Sustainable Development Goals
- The United States helped bring sustainable development to the top of the multilateral agenda, with USUN highlighting the importance of and commitment to advancing the Sustainable Development Goals throughout the year at engagements around the world and country: from spotlighting the role of local actors at the Cities Summit in March, to outlining the impact of U.S. leadership in the development space at the Council on Foreign Relations in September.
- Ahead of the Sustainable Development Goals Summit in September 2023, USUN demonstrated the United States’ commitment to the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, at home and abroad. In the two years leading up to the Summit alone, the United States invested over $100 billion in Official Development Assistance. At the Summit, the United States joined the SDG Political Declaration to reinvigorate progress toward the SDGs, and Secretary Blinken articulated the U.S. commitment to leaving no one behind at the SDG Summit.
- During the UN General Assembly’s High-Level Week, the United States spearheaded efforts to include strong language across three General Assembly Political Declarations on health: pandemic preparedness and response, universal health coverage, and the fight against tuberculosis.
- Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield, along with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, co-led the U.S. delegation to the 2023 United Nations Water Conference that included 125 delegates. During the conference, the United States announced a $49 billion investment in the domestic and international water sector, which accelerates progress on Sustainable Development Goal Six: universal clean, safe, and affordable water and sanitation.
- Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield and USUN took the case for sustainable development around the world. In November, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield led the U.S. delegation to the Pacific Islands Forum hosted by the Cook Islands to reaffirm the United States’ commitment to the region and engaged with Pacific region leaders and stakeholders to galvanize further international cooperation on climate change and sustainable development. And in December, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield led the U.S. Delegation to the 10th Conference of the States Parties of the UN Convention against Corruption, held in Atlanta, demonstrating the administration’s commitment to anti-corruption efforts in alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals.
Put Human Rights at the Core of the International System
- USUN made defending human rights a signature priority during its Security Council presidency – making clear that the Security Council is a key multilateral venue to address human rights violations by highlighting ongoing violations of human rights in conflict zones with numerous civil society briefings and thematic events.
- In April, the Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution that called for the full, equal, meaningful, and safe participation of women and girls in Afghanistan. Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield called for this resolution in January and USUN worked closely with Japan and the United Arab Emirates on its adoption, which also called on the Taliban to swiftly reverse its policies and practices restricting women and girls’ enjoyment of their human rights and fundamental freedoms, including those related to their access to education, employment, freedom of movement and participation in public life.
- Throughout the year, USUN repeatedly shined a light on the DPRK’s violation of human rights. In March, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield highlighted the issue with two events focused on exposing the human rights situation in the DPRK, first by meeting with women defectors and then by cosponsoring and co-leading a DPRK Arria Formula meeting with Albania. During the United States’ August presidency of the UN Security Council, the United States held the first open briefing in more than five years on the human rights situation in the DPRK.
- As antisemitism rose across the country and world, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield hosted leaders at the UN to support practical global efforts to combat antisemitism. The event featured keynote remarks by Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff. Throughout the year, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield frequently met with representatives of the Jewish and Muslim communities to discuss ways to counter both antisemitism and Islamophobia domestically and internationally.
- Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield advanced the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to strengthening the dialogue between U.S. officials and people of African descent by leading the U.S. delegation to the 2nd Session of the UN Permanent Forum on People of African Descent. In addition, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield traveled to Brazil to underscore U.S. support for reinvigorating the U.S.-Brazil Joint Action Plan to Eliminate Racial Discrimination and Promote Equality – marking the first cabinet-level official visit to Salvador since the JAPER was signed by then-Secretary Condoleezza Rice.
- USUN has consistently and continuously called for the release of hostages and political prisoners. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield invited Elizabeth Whelan – the sister of Paul Whelan, who is wrongfully detained in Russia – to attend a Security Council meeting presided over by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to highlight Paul’s lengthy and unjust detention. The Ambassador and the family of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich spoke to UN correspondents about Evan’s arbitrary detention in Russia. Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield advocated for McClatchy reporter Austin Tice, who was abducted in Syria, World Press Freedom prize recipient Niloofar Hamedi who is still wrongfully detained in Iran, and former U.S. Embassy personnel who are being held in Yemen. Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield also met with family members of individuals held hostage by Hamas and other groups in the wake of the October 7th attacks.
- Throughout the year, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield used her travels to reaffirm the United States’ commitment to prioritizing global human rights issues. That included delivering a keynote speech in Costa Rica on strengthening democracy and human rights as part of President Biden’s Summit for Democracy.
- To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield visited the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, highlighted the United States’ commitment to the document at multiple UDHR anniversary events in New York, and celebrated the rededication of the Eleanor Roosevelt memorial the UN grounds.
Bolstered Key Humanitarian Programs in Africa
- Both at the United Nations and in visits to member states, Ambassador Thomas Greenfield reaffirmed the United States support for humanitarian initiatives in Africa – from health and nutrition to gender equality and refugee support.
- During Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield’s January visit to Somalia to review the humanitarian, economic, and security situation, she announced that the United States would provide $40 million in additional funding to address extreme food gaps, treat severe malnutrition in women and children, and combat the current outbreak of deadly diseases like measles and cholera.
- At the UN’s High-Level Pledging Event for the Horn of Africa in May, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield announced that the United States would provide $524 million in additional funding to mitigate the impacts of the record-setting drought in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia.
- Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield visited eastern Chad in September to draw international attention to and support for the humanitarian crisis along the border with Sudan. During the visit, the Ambassador announced that the United States would provide an additional $163 million in humanitarian assistance to support the people of Sudan and its refugees in neighboring countries. Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield also announced U.S. sanctions against officials accused of violating human rights in Sudan.
Held Russia Accountable for its Unprovoked Invasion of Ukraine
- In the Security Council, the United States continued to hold Russia accountable for its aggression against Ukraine through meetings on Russia’s forced deportation of Ukrainian children, Russia’s violations of international humanitarian law, and Russia’s weaponization of the global food system. In the General Assembly, USUN led the overwhelming passage of a resolution on the first anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, outlining the principles underlying a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in the region.
- Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield cultivated domestic and global coalitions, including on a bipartisan basis alongside the U.S. Congress, to rally the global community to sustain support for Ukraine’s defense against Russia’s war.
- Throughout the year, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield and USUN addressed head-on the dangerous and destabilizing activities of the Wagner Group and other Russian proxies in Africa, including their abuses and massacres of civilians, their role in driving extremist recruitment, and the threat they pose to the safety and security of UN peacekeepers. Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield raised awareness of Wagner’s activities during Security Council meetings, in discussions with African leaders, and by pressing the United Nations to report publicly on Wagner’s human rights violations. Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield also engaged the African publics, particularly youth, on actions of these groups to extract wealth and foment political instability that undermines peace and prosperity on the continent.
Championed Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Principles
- Recognizing commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility as a hallmark of the Biden Administration and essential to truly advancing U.S. foreign policy, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield prioritized and delivered outreach campaigns to engage young Americans, especially from underrepresented communities and universities, to urge them to consider careers in diplomacy or public service. Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield participated in dozens of briefings and meetings with students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, local high schools, and Model UN groups on U.S. foreign policy priorities, the UN, and multilateral organizations. USUN amplified the work of and collaborated with the UNA-USA Youth Observer to build a network of public servants that advance democratic values and the relevance of the UN in addressing global challenges. Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield also spoke at the William & Mary Charter Day Ceremony, where she encouraged students to pursue careers in public service.
- USUN emphasized representation with its Security Council Presidency programming, proudly bringing 12 civil society members to brief the Council, with more than two-thirds of those briefers being women.
- The Mission reflected the diversity of the United States in many of its events with the UN diplomatic and broader New York Community, including by hosting the Mission’s first Black History Month concert at the United Nations, a reception in honor of Indigenous Leaders at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, an LGBTI+ Pride Month celebration, its first Diwali dinner, and its first music diplomacy event at which it featured U.S. Arts Envoy Matthew Whitaker.
- At the UN, the United States continued to lead efforts to advocate for LGBTQI+ issues. In the Economic and Social Council, the United States worked to preserve language on sexual orientation and gender identity in the text for a resolution on elections; more than 80 percent of the UN members voted in favor of the resolution during the December General Assembly plenary.
- USUN played a critical role in the first-ever official meeting on access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) for persons with disabilities during the 2023 Conference of States Parties for the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), USUN played a critical role in securing a reference to SRH in the biannual resolution, which was adopted by consensus.
- As co-chair of the UN Accessibility Steering Committee, USUN improved physical and digital accessibility at the UN for persons with disabilities and elevated the concerns of UN staff who face employment barriers due to their disabilities. USUN continues to hold the UN accountable for their accessibility shortcomings at UNHQ, including pushing for a rostrum lift, to make the UN General Assembly stage accessible to all.
Spearheaded UN Modernization and Reform Efforts to Make the UN More Effective, Representative, and Efficient
- Nearly eight decades since the founding of the United Nations, USUN has worked to ensure that the organization is built, staffed, and run to meet the current moment.
- USUN spearheaded efforts in the UN system on responsible use of Artificial Intelligence, emphasizing the need to protect human rights.
- Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield and USUN led successful high-level campaigns for Americans to elected positions in the UN including Sarah Cleveland’s campaign for the International Court of Justice, and Amy Pope for Director General for the International Organization for Migration.
- As part of efforts to reform the UN Security Council, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield and USUN leadership have continued to hold wide-ranging consultations with intergovernmental negotiation chairs, regional blocs, groups of Member States, individual Member States, and civil society to ensure all stakeholders are heard and involved in the process of Security Council reform.
- USUN led the way on peacekeeping reform, paving the way towards an agreement to provide assessed funding for the Peacebuilding Fund to prevent conflicts before they begin, a proven approach to identifying and addressing the root causes of conflicts will save lives and money.
- Following reports of fraud and mismanagement at the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS), USUN led efforts to improve oversight of UN funds and programs and strengthen audit and ethics offices.
- During December’s UN Peacekeeping Ministerial in Accra, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield pledged millions of dollars to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of UN peacekeeping efforts and helped launch a first-of-its-kind women’s body armor pilot project in partnership with Ghana and Zambia. This innovation is an investment in female peacekeepers – and in turn, an investment in the communities they protect.