‘It can only get better’: 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 worldwide group’s prime decision-making physique — earlier than the containers of her fortieth flooring house overlooking the Hudson River are even unpacked.

Thomas-Greenfield will likely 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 instructed POLITICO they hope to see each a return of American management and a again fee of unpaid American U.N. dues below Thomas-Greenfield’s management.

President Joe Biden made an initial commitment of $4 billion on Feb. 18 towards international vaccine efforts akin 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 can only get higher,” mentioned an adviser to Guterres who was not approved to communicate to the media. “We’re cautiously optimistic,” they added.

U.N. Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric mentioned 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 mentioned.

Guterres’s prime political precedence for 2021 is local weather change, and international progress now hinges on the capability of the Biden administration to transfer past its preliminary gesture of rejoining the Paris local weather accord.

The present Safety Council chief, U.Okay. Ambassador Barbara Woodward, instructed POLITICO the Britain is happy to work with Thomas-Greenfield, “particularly on shared priorities akin to local weather and Covid-19.” Woodward right this moment 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 act as a bridge between the U.S. and China, mentioned one European ambassador. “Guterres has urged us to play the position of bridge builder. Until we can make the 2 of them work collectively on local weather and Covid, the U.N. agenda stays paralyzed,” the ambassador mentioned.

Thomas-Greenfield, a 35-year veteran on the State Division, confronted powerful 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 promote American values of democracy, human rights, and peace.

Her deep expertise throughout Africa will likely be essential, consultants and advocates say, to advance U.S. relationships and comprise 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 imagine Linda Thomas-Greenfield’s background as former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs makes her extraordinarily certified to perceive the size of this disaster and the significance of U.S.-Africa coverage,” mentioned 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 girls.

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

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