Press Conference: Linda Thomas-Greenfield, United States Representative and President of the Security Council for the month of May, on the Council's programme of work for May

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03-May-2022 00:42:18
Briefing by Linda Thomas-Greenfield, United States Representative and President of the Security Council for the month of May, on the Council's programme of work for May.

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The Security Council’s programme for May features an open debate on the nexus between armed conflict and food insecurity, as well as a briefing on the risks and benefits of using technology in the maintenance of peace and security, its President for the month told a Headquarters press conference today.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield (United States), recalling that the link between conflict and food security was discussed during her previous Council presidency in March 2021, said Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will chair an open debate on 19 May, shining a light again on the issue. She added that the United States wishes to ensure that the growing food insecurity does not create new conflict and instability in fragile States.

On 23 May, the 15-member organ will hold a briefing on technology and security. “This is a new and important focus of the Council,” she said, noting that it is long past time for it to fully grapple with the impact of digital technology on the maintenance of international peace and security.

In addition to these two major events, the Council will continue to be seized of the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine, with a briefing scheduled on 5 May and potentially more to follow, she said.

On Syria, the Council will hold meetings on 20, 27 and 31 May, respectively on its humanitarian, chemical weapons and political files.

She also highlighted an annual debate on protection of civilians on 25 May, saying that the event is taking on heightened importance, given the attacks against civilians in Ukraine, as well as such incidents in Ethiopia, Yemen and Myanmar.

Across the monthly programme, her delegation seeks to ensure the women, peace and security agenda is fully integrated. The United States also aims to include civil society speakers in every meeting, if possible, and wishes to ensure that all briefers are protected from reprisals. Her delegation also seeks to ensure gender balance and diversity among invited briefers.

Adding comments in her national capacity, she said the issue of conflict and food security is “personal” as she has witnessed with her own eyes that famine and malnutrition are largely caused by war. This is even more urgent today due to the Russia Federation’s unconscionable invasion of Ukraine. On 18 May, on the eve of the Council open debate, the United States will convene a ministerial-level global food security call to action event at United Nations Headquarters in New York. The event will be attended by Foreign Ministers from many regions and will review urgent humanitarian needs and explore ways to build future resilience.

On the second signature event, she said peace and security has been completely transformed by digital technology for better or worse. These tools can be abused to spread disinformation, restrict access and deny human rights, but they also offer opportunities to do tremendous good. They can help identify emerging threats, protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, and reconnect and reunite the displaced with their families. They can help prosecutors collect evidence to build cases for war crimes, connect refugees with host families and employment opportunities, and better prepare peacekeepers to deploy. The event will contribute to the Council’s understanding of the evolving landscape.

Concerning Syria, she said the dire humanitarian situation is a priority for the United States. She will travel to the region for an update on the life-saving aid flowing into Syria through the cross-border mechanism.

On 17 May, the United States will hold a memorial in the General Assembly Hall for former Secretary of States Madeleine Albright.

At the outset, Ms. Thomas-Greenfield acknowledged in her national capacity that 3 May marks World Press Freedom Day, stressing that press freedom is “the cornerstone of every democracy”, counters disinformation and holds Governments in check.

Responding to questions, she said the Secretary-General will speak at the open debate on conflict and food security. There will be no outcome documents for the two signature events.

Asked about the Security Council’s inability to stop the war in Ukraine and what the United States can do, she said “we are successful” in isolating the Russian Federation in the 15-member organ, in unifying voices condemning that country in the General Assembly, in bringing Assembly resolutions forward on humanitarian assistance and in suspending the Russian Federation from the Human Rights Council. In the Security Council, “they [the Russian Federation] are on the defensive”, she said, stressing that she intends to keep it that way.

On reproductive health and rights, the United States Administration’s stance is clear, she said, noting that her country restored its stance on this issue to align with allies at the United Nations and with global norms to ensure support for women’s health. The United States restored its funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). She denied that there is a hangover effect on this issue from the previous administration.

Accused of using double standards on the situations in Ukraine and Palestine, she said that the United States takes a strong stance on Israel’s security — their right to defend the country from attacks by Hamas, but believes that Israel and Palestine equally deserve their rights.

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