February 22, 2021

Menendez Remarks Ahead of Cloture Vote for Linda Thomas-Greenfield as UN Ambassador

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, spoke on the Senate Floor ahead of today’s vote to invoke cloture on the nomination of Linda Thomas-Greenfield to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. 

“What the United States desperately needs right now at the UN is renewal and reengagement with key alliances and institutions,” Senator Menendez said. “Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield has the expertise, the strength, and the character to deliver on these priorities: to stand up to the challenges we face from China, to regain U.S. leverage and influence in the Security Council, to re-engage our allies and hold Iran accountable, and to stand firm when Israel is subject to biased attacks. Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield has my full support, and I urge my colleagues to support the nomination.”

 

Below are Senator Menendez’s full remarks as delivered.

“ I rise today to support the nomination of Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield as U.S. Representative to the United Nations, the Security Council, and the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield’s impressive career in public service makes her uniquely and eminently qualified for this role.

For over 35 years, she has served this country faithfully and ably, under both Democratic and Republican administrations, in senior, Senate-confirmed positions such as Ambassador to Liberia, Director General of the Foreign Service, and Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.

Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield understands at her core that foreign policy is about forging connections and building relationships.

So I have no doubt that what she calls her personal brand of ‘gumbo diplomacy,’ which emphasizes connecting with others to solve problems, will be of tremendous service to the United States at an institution like the United Nations, where personal relationships matter a great deal.

Our country is truly fortunate that the Ambassador has agreed to return to public service, especially at this critical moment.

We face an array of formidable challenges, both around the world and at the UN, that demand someone with her skills and commitment to democracy, good governance, human rights, and anti-corruption.

Over the last four years, the United States has accrued more than $1 billion in peacekeeping arrears; tried to pull out of the World Health Organization in the middle of a pandemic; undermined international protections for women, girls and LGBTI individuals; defunded or cut funding to key agencies like the UN Population Fund and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; and pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Meanwhile, China and other authoritarian countries have filled the vacuum left by our absence.

We must regain U.S. leverage and influence at the Security Council, where Russia and China have used their veto powers and ability to bully non-permanent members to stymie the Council’s work. 

They have shielded abusive regimes like the criminal dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela, and the government of Burma, which committed genocide against the Rohingya.

Our loss of influence at the Security Council under the Trump administration was on full display in the disastrous attempt to extend the UN arms embargo on Iran, where the U.S. could muster only one other vote of support on the Council. One other vote. Including some of our most longtime allies – Germany, France, Great Britain, to mention a few.

It was an embarrassment. An embarrassment.

Meanwhile, China has increased its role and activities at the United Nations and in other international organizations, and has worked to pervert and distort the core values that make the UN’s work so important, especially the UN’s long-held commitment to human rights.

Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield has a long history of expressed opposition to China’s use of debt-trap tactics, and its increasingly malign presence in world governance bodies.

She has spoken plainly about China’s authoritarian ambitions, its open hostility to universal human rights and democratic values, and has committed to confronting them every step of the way at the United Nations.

What the United States desperately needs right now at the UN is renewal and reengagement with key alliances and institutions.

Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield has the expertise, the strength, and the character to deliver on these priorities: to stand up to the challenges we face from China, to regain U.S. leverage and influence in the Security Council, to re-engage our allies and hold Iran accountable, and to stand firm when Israel is subject to biased attacks.

Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield has my full support, and I urge my colleagues to support the nomination.”

 

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