The Senate confirmed to Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a seasoned diplomat, on Tuesday that she would become U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, as President Biden’s administration seeks to become a more active force in the forum. world, which was marked by the US withdrawal during Trump. administration.
Ms. Thomas-Greenfield’s confirmation, by a vote of 78 to 20, is the latest chapter in a rise that began in her hometown of Louisiana, where she attended segregated schools and lived a childhood, in the early years of the 1950s, punctuated by racial tensions.
As the main United States representative to the United Nations, Ms Thomas-Greenfield, 68, said she would focus on restoring alliances and re-engaging in multilateral efforts to address global issues such as the pandemic of coronavirus.
“America is back,” Ms. Thomas-Greenfield said when Mr. Biden announced his appointment in November, echoing a theme Mr. Biden had in discussions with other world leaders. “Multilateralism is back. Diplomacy is back. “
Ms. Thomas-Greenfield joined the Foreign Service in 1982. From 2008 to 2012, she served as Ambassador to Liberia, before becoming Director General of Foreign Service for approximately a year. From 2013 to 2017, she was America’s senior diplomat for African affairs, where she helped oversee the response to the Ebola outbreak. In 2017, she was among diplomats expelled from the department by Secretary of State Rex W. Hillerson.
During her tenure, she became known for what she calls “okra diplomacy,” referring to the Cajun dish she often cooked alongside her foreign counterparts to break down barriers in diplomatic conversations.
Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill have expressed concern, including over a speech she gave in October 2019 on Africa’s relations with China and the United States.
In her speech at Savannah State University, she extolled the benefits of U.S. cooperation with China to cultivate enhanced relations with developing countries in Africa, one of her main areas of expertise.
The speech was clearly devoid of any criticism of China’s human rights record or the pattern of predatory lending practices in developing countries desperate for investment. It was sponsored by the Confucius Institute, a Chinese government educational organization that US officials accused of spreading pro-China propaganda in schools in the United States and elsewhere.
Ms Thomas-Greenfield regretted agreeing to make the speech but strongly contested the criticism of her views. “If you look at what I did before that,” she said, “there is no doubt that I am not at all naive of what the Chinese do and have called them regularly.