‘It may well solely get higher’: Linda Thomas-Greenfield headed to crisis-plagued U.N.


If that wasn’t sufficient, Thomas-Greenfield will assume management of the U.N. Safety Council on March 1 — the global organization’s top decision-making body — earlier than the packing containers of her fortieth flooring house overlooking the Hudson River are even unpacked.

Thomas-Greenfield shall be sworn-in Wednesday morning by Vice President Kamala Harris, and can arrive in New York Feb. 25 to current her credentials to U.N. Secretary Basic António Guterres.

U.N. officers informed POLITICO they hope to see each a return of American management and a again cost of unpaid American U.N. dues beneath Thomas-Greenfield’s management.

President Joe Biden made an initial commitment of $4 billion on Feb. 18 towards international vaccine efforts comparable to COVAX, and broader well being safety investments.

After 4 years of Trump-induced whiplash and withdrawal from key U.N. entities — together with the World Well being Group — the sense of reduction round Turtle Bay is palpable, even with thinned out attendance and a largely digital assembly schedule.

“It may well solely get higher,” stated an adviser to Guterres who was not approved to talk to the media. “We’re cautiously optimistic,” they added.

U.N. Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric stated Thomas-Greenfield and Guterres first labored collectively in 2005, when Thomas-Greenfield led the state Division’s refugee and migration division and Guterres served because the U.N. Excessive Commissioner for Refugees. “He has witnessed her effectiveness and dedication in motion,” Dujarric stated.

Guterres’s prime political precedence for 2021 is local weather change, and international progress now hinges on the ability of the Biden administration to move beyond its initial gesture of rejoining the Paris climate accord.

The present Safety Council chief, U.Okay. Ambassador Barbara Woodward, informed POLITICO the Britain is happy to work with Thomas-Greenfield, “particularly on shared priorities comparable to local weather and Covid-19.” Woodward at present succeeded in pushing local weather change onto the agenda of the Safety Council, in a debate led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, which additionally featured the Biden administration’s new local weather envoy, John Kerry.

Challenges on China loom

Europe is providing to behave as a bridge between the U.S. and China, stated one European ambassador. “Guterres has urged us to play the position of bridge builder. Until we will make the 2 of them work collectively on local weather and Covid, the U.N. agenda stays paralyzed,” the ambassador stated.

Thomas-Greenfield, a 35-year veteran on the State Division, confronted robust questions in her Senate affirmation hearings over the extent to which she is going to confront Chinese language authoritarianism and regional meddling. She promised in her affirmation listening to to advertise American values of democracy, human rights, and peace.

Her deep expertise throughout Africa shall be obligatory, specialists and advocates say, to advance U.S. relationships and include China’s rising affect throughout the U.N. system.

Those tensions will likely come to a head in debates over equity in Covid vaccine distribution. “We consider Linda Thomas-Greenfield’s background as former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs makes her extraordinarily certified to know the dimensions of this disaster and the significance of U.S.-Africa coverage,” stated Sean Simons, spokesperson for the anti-poverty ONE marketing campaign.

Thomas-Greenfield is the fifth consecutive girl to be confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. 5 of the 15 Safety Council ambassadors are ladies.

“Rather less testosterone and just a little extra dialogue, affected person listening and a capability to facilitate – they’re undervalued qualities, significantly when there’s quite a lot of pressure between among the huge gamers on the desk,” Ireland’s ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason told the Irish Times.

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