UN Foundation Statement on the Nominations of Antony Blinken to be U.S. Secretary of State and Linda Thomas-Greenfield to be U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations

Washington, DC

November 23, 2020


Megan Rabbitt

Putting U.S. foreign policy in such exceptional and seasoned hands will reinvigorate U.S. engagement on the world stage, says UN Foundation President Elizabeth Cousens

President and CEO of the United Nations Foundation Elizabeth Cousens issued the following statement on President-Elect Biden’s selection of Antony Blinken as Secretary of State and Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield as the next U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations:   

“The selection of Antony Blinken and Linda Thomas-Greenfield heralds a new day in American foreign policy,” said Elizabeth Cousens, President and CEO of the United Nations Foundation.

“Each brings a wealth of hands-on experience, bedrock belief in the power of U.S. diplomacy, and keen appreciation for the role of multilateral cooperation and the United Nations in American foreign policy,” Cousens added.  “Together they signal the President-Elect’s determination to reinvigorate American engagement on the world stage.”

As a former Deputy Secretary of State in the Obama Administration, Blinken promoted the protection of refugees, championed ambitious climate action and saw first-hand how multilateral organizations like the United Nations can be used to advance U.S. foreign policy goals.

“Tony Blinken is an outstanding choice to be Secretary of State. He is a seasoned diplomat with an exceptional grasp of the full breadth of the U.S. foreign policy agenda and decades of experience to bring to bear on the profound challenges facing America and the world in the 21st century.

In his new role, Blinken will lead efforts to reinvigorate U.S. engagement with allies, partners and international organizations. This will include the U.S. rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement and the World Health Organization, as well as a return to U.S. support for the UN Population Fund.

“Throughout his career, Blinken has been a fierce advocate for global cooperation. He understands first-hand that multilateral cooperation and national interest aren’t mutually exclusive – they are complementary,” Cousens said. “Blinken will play a crucial role in leading the Biden Administration’s Day One agenda for the UN, including rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, remaining a member of the World Health Organization, and supporting the UN Population Fund once again. Given his deep knowledge of the UN and global affairs, Blinken is uniquely positioned to lead U.S. reengagement on the multilateral front.”

“The nomination of Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield to be the next U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations and a member of the U.S. Cabinet is an inspired choice, given her breadth of experience in foreign policy, hands-on experience with the UN system, and deep professionalism and integrity,” Cousens said.

Thomas-Greenfield served for more than thirty years within the State Department, including as U.S. ambassador to Liberia from 2008 to 2012, as the Assistant Secretary for African Affairs and in numerous other posts around the world, from Kenya to Pakistan.

“Thomas-Greenfield brings a deep understanding of the United Nations and a keen appreciation for how U.S. engagement with the UN can advance American goals,” added Cousens. “She knows the UN must continue to evolve its work and grow its impact to ensure it remains fit for purpose in this challenging era, emerging stronger and better equipped to tackle global challenges.”

Major issues await Thomas-Greenfield at the UN, including the global pandemic and its economic consequences, climate change, record levels of displacement, growing assaults on basic human rights, food insecurity, and a rise in authoritarianism.

Ms. Thomas Greenfield has rightly recognized that the United States needs a “top-to-bottom diplomatic surge” and that any surge must be coupled with tangible actions to show seriousness about restoring U.S. standing on the global stage and at the United Nations.

Thomas-Greenfield served as the Ambassador to Liberia in the aftermath of the Liberian civil wars where she witnessed first-hand the critical work of the UN peacekeeping mission (UNMIL) in helping bring peace to the war-torn country.    Additionally, while serving as Assistant Secretary for African Affairs she supported the U.S. response to Ebola in West Africa and saw cooperation with the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER).

“The United Nations Foundation looks forward to working closely with the incoming Biden team to support renewed U.S. engagement at the United Nations.  Blinken and Thomas-Greenfield understand the intrinsic value of the UN, while remaining clear-eyed about where the UN needs to be stronger,” Cousens said. “The challenges facing our country and the world are immense. With Blinken and Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. will be exceptionally well served by a team with the experience and wisdom to meet them,” Cousens said.