Opening Remarks at a U.S. House Appropriations Committee Hearing on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
Washington, D.C.
March 1, 2023


Opening Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield at a U.S. House Appropriations Committee Hearing on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs

[In progress] I would welcome more visits so I can show you how vital our role is at the UN. Because without our leadership, China, Russia, and others hope to shape the United Nations – and indeed, the world – in their authoritarian image.

On my watch, we are not letting that happen. At the UN, we are galvanizing our allies and partners to tackle conflict, hunger, climate change, human rights abuses and violations, humanitarian crises, and so much more. And we are engaged in a strategic competition, especially with China, to ensure the values of freedom, democracy, and human rights prevail.

Last week, we marked one year since Russia’s brutal, illegal invasion of Ukraine. At the UN, we have isolated Russia on the world stage. This past Thursday, 141 countries voted to call for an immediate withdrawal of Russian troops and for a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace. Russia is weak and alone. And this resolution showed Ukraine that global support for its sovereignty and independence remains strong.

Of course, we have been equally focused on the rest of the world. When disaster strikes, we rally the international response. After the recent earthquakes in Syria and Türkiye we, for example, pushed for two more border crossings so that humanitarian aid could flow freely to Syrians in dire need. And last month, when I visited Somalia, I called on the international community to step up and break the cycle of extreme hunger and end famine.

We do the same when human rights are abused and violated. When the Iranian regime was killing peaceful protestors in the streets, we took action. Iran’s brave activists called on us to suspend Iran from the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women. Iran’s presence was a stain on the Commission, and we removed it. Next week, I will lead the U.S. delegation to the Commission, where we will continue to call out Iran and other repressive regimes that violate the rights of women.

As part of our fight for human rights, we hosted a high-level UN event on the genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang. We highlighted the UN report, which laid out China’s human rights violations in horrifying detail.

And we are also vigilantly combating all forms of hate at the UN – including anti-Semitism. A few weeks ago, we hosted, with the Second Gentleman, a special event at the UN focused on combating anti-Semitism. We also led the successful adoption of a UN General Assembly resolution to condemn Holocaust denial, the first of its kind in 15 years.

Of course, we know that anti-Semitism is one dimension of anti-Israel bias at the UN, and that’s something we work to counter every single day. We support a two-state solution and continue to push both sides to avoid escalatory actions that would move us further from achieving that goal.

In the Security Council, we are addressing threats to international peace and security, like the conflict in Ethiopia, instability in Haiti, and missile launches from North Korea. And on North Korea, we’re working to enforce strong UN sanctions to make it harder for Pyongyang to build nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

We are working to hold the UN itself accountable. We are actively advocating for a host of reforms to make the UN more effective, efficient, representative, and credible. Our goal is to bring the UN into the 21st century, while rooting out waste, fraud, and abuse.

But the truth is, as we battle for our values enshrined in the UN Charter, the Administration’s efforts to pay our bills in full have been only partially met by Congress. We continue to maintain high balances on arrears and pay late; it’s China’s favorite talking point. If we want to maintain U.S. leadership, we also need consistent, strengthened funding to recruit talented Americans into the UN system, which we are grateful that Congress has also recognized. We need your help to secure that funding and to build on our successes in the multilateral area. I’m committed to ensuring, with adequate staff, to fully monitoring how our funding is managed.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Committee, I have had the honor of serving our country for nearly 40 years, under presidents from both parties. This moment is unique. America’s global standing is at stake. So, I want to thank you for your support and for your continuous communication, and I forward to our discussion.