Washington’s new ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, made her first appearance at the world body on Thursday, promising “diplomacy is back” after the four-year Trump administration.
Ms Thomas-Greenfield called the UN an “indispensable institution” and said the administration of President Joe Biden would help to advance the “collective well-being” through compassion and by “bringing people together”.
Her arrival comes amid hopes that the Biden administration can rally efforts against climate change and other UN priorities, but also doubts that the US can regain the global leadership role that was largely abandoned under former president Donald Trump.
“Multilateralism is back and diplomacy is back and America is back and we're ready to get to work,” Ms Thomas-Greenfield said outside the UN Security Council chamber in New York.
The US will on Monday assume the rotating presidency of the 15-nation Security Council for March and its agenda includes conflicts in Libya and Yemen, the errant nuclear programmes of Iran and North Korea and other threats.
“The United Nations is the world's most important forum for bringing people and countries together, and I take that seriously,” Ms Thomas-Greenfield said.
“We're clear-eyed about the difficult work that needs to be done, from elevating human rights to reforming the UN itself, and to addressing conflicts old and new around the world.”
Her talk of multilateralism goes down well at the UN after four years of Mr Trump's “America first” policies, under which the US withdrew from a climate change deal, a global health body and the UN Human Rights Council.
A UN spokesman praised the new US envoy, saying UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres had worked with her in his previous job leading the UN’s refugee agency and “witnessed her effectiveness and dedication in action”.
Ms Thomas-Greenfield, a career diplomat with experience across four continents and a former assistant secretary of state for African affairs, was confirmed as US ambassador by the Senate on Tuesday.
With her confirmation, Mr Biden’s national security team is now largely in place to face challenges such as resuming nuclear negotiations with Iran, restoring trust with allies and confronting an emboldened China and Russia.