Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield at the UN General Assembly Debate on UN Security Council Reform

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield delivers remarks at GA Debate on UNSC Reform
Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 16, 2023
Thank you, Mr. President.
I often find it’s useful to look to the words and wisdom of one of the UN founders, Ralph Bunche. Nearly three quarters of a century ago, he said that “the world and its people being as they are, there is no easy or quick or infallible approach to secure peace.” The same can be said for securing Security Council reform.
But I believe that if we want the Council to operate at its full potential; if we want to remain the world’s primary forum for addressing threats to international peace and security; if we want to represent the world as it could be, as it should be, then the Council body needs to represent the world as it is, not as it was three quarters of a century ago. It needs to adapt.
As you know, at the General Assembly last year, President Biden announced that the United States was committed to reform, including the expansion of both permanent and non-permanent seats on the Security Council, with permanent seats for countries in Africa and in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Since then, the President has reaffirmed this commitment, including in his speech to the General Assembly just this past September. Because he recognizes – as so many of us do – that the Council, as it is constituted today, doesn’t represent the realities of today. And we know that a Council that is not representative can be less credible in the eyes of those who do not feel seen, heard, or understood.
More than ever before, we cannot afford a crisis of confidence in this body. And so, as many of you have experienced, I have spent the last several months on a listening tour. I have met with many different Member States, regional groupings, institutional stakeholders, to better understand their perspectives on reform. I have heard from Member States that are understandably concerned about disfunction and politicization within the Council. I have heard from Member States that are dealing with dire humanitarian crises and from Member States that are disproportionately impacted by climate change, many of whom believe their voices have gone unheard.
To be sure, many of these representatives have offered different ideas about how best to go about change. But they are united in their belief that we must forge consensus in the name of progress. We will need to re-examine long-held national positions, ask ourselves tough questions, and remain open to compromise in order to effect lasting change.
We are grateful to be aided in this effort by the IGN co-chairs, Kuwait and Austria, who are using their considerable creativity and energy to spur new conversations and meaningful engagement. And we look forward to participating in the upcoming IGN session to make additional progress on Security Council reform.
To close, I will leave you with this. Ralph Bunche, in the same address, said that “it is only by patient, persistent, undismayed effort, by trial and error, that peace can be won.”
As we work to modernize the place where peace can be won, let us do so with the same spirit of patience and persistence. We are eager to continue working with all of you to bring the Council at long last into the 21st century.

Thank you very much.