Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 2, 2022
This afternoon, the United States and Albania convened a UN Security Council Arria-formula meeting on the peaceful protests that have taken root in Iran. I was deeply moved by Dr. Ebadi and Nazanin Boniadi’s powerful testimonies. And I was heartened that Special Representative Rehman and so many Member States joined us at this meeting. Together, we condemned the Iranian government’s brutal crackdown on peaceful protestors.
We cannot stay silent as security forces detain, torture, and gun down peaceful protestors as dozens of civil society activists, journalists, and lawyers are locked up. But today was also incredibly uplifting. It was a chance to shine a spotlight on the brave women and men that have taken to the streets all over Iran. Across ethnicities and social classes, Iranians have come together under the banner of “women, life, freedom.”
These protests have spread across the country and even around the world. From Istanbul to Afghanistan to New York, people have gathered to protest in solidarity with the Iranian people. These demonstrations should inspire all Member States here at the UN, because while change in Iran should only come from within Iran, we have a responsibility to stand with the Iranian people. Our words are powerful. They hold weight. And Iranians must hear from us. We must give them our moral support. That’s what you heard today, from countries around the world.
The United States also believes there must be accountability for the horrific repression and violence the Iranian government is carrying out. That’s why, as Vice President Harris announced today, we will work with other Member States to remove the Islamic Republic of Iran from the UN Commission on the Status of Women. The work of promoting gender equality and empowering women should not be entrusted to a Member State that systematically oppresses its own women and girls. We will also look for opportunities to raise this issue in every applicable UN forum, including the Human Rights Council and in Third Committee.
We must rise to meet this moment. And we must stand with the Iranian people as they protest for women, for life, and for freedom.
Thank you, very much.
QUESTION: Thank you so much, Ambassador. As you heard at the Arria-formula meeting, Ms. Shirin Ebadi asked that Iranian people are asking the United States to not sign any deal that is going to help the regime to stay in power for longer. That is what people of Iran want, that is what Ms. Shirin Ebadi said. What is your answer to the people of Iran who are protesting on the streets of Iran and they are losing their lives? And what is your message to the women of Iran?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We support them. We support them in every way possible. What we’re focused on right now are the brutal attacks that are taking place on the streets of Iran. We’re focused on the Iranian government providing weapons to the Russians to kill Ukrainians. That is the focus of our attention today, as well in the coming weeks.
QUESTION: Hi. Thank you, Ambassador. My name is Ibtisam Azem from Al-Araby Al-Jadeed Newspaper. Two questions: Earlier today the Iranian ambassador unfortunately didn’t take any questions but read a statement accusing the U.S. of meddling in internal affairs and then saying that the sanctions on Iran are the ones causing the suffering of Iranian people. So, your comments on that. And my second question is on what the Special Rapporteur said today, Mr. Rehman, he called on establishing a special independent mechanism to investigate the violation of human rights in Iran. How do you want to support that? Are there specific steps you are taking to work on that? Thank you.
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Good. As far as what the Iranian ambassador had to say, I really have no comment on that. What he said was not unexpected. What is happening in Iran is very serious. They are attacking women and men who are protesting on the street. A young woman was killed, in fact more than one was killed, and the Iranian government is responsible for that. The world is not responsible. Sanctions are not responsible for that. What they need to do is start allowing for freedom of protest, allow women to make decisions about what they would like to wear, and not kill them or jail them because of that. We support the Special Rapporteur’s call for a special commission to investigate and hold accountable those members of the Iranian government responsible for this. How that will be developed is not yet on the table, but we support his efforts.
QUESTION: First of all, just a quick sort of procedural follow up. How do you go about getting Iran off the CSW? Is it a vote? Is it a vote in ECOSOC that is required to oust them from the CSW, or do you need to go to the GA?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We’re going to be working with other Member States on how we proceed on that. We haven’t determined that yet. But over the course of the coming days and weeks we will be doing that.
QUESTION: And then just on North Korea, there was more missiles overnight. Are you planning to raise that in any form at the Security Council? And when was the last time that the U.S. tried to reach out to North Korea?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We are very disturbed by these tests. I’m told it’s the largest number in history. So, certainly, we will be asking to engage with other Security Council members on a way forward in dealing with this. And I didn’t hear your last question.
QUESTION: When was the last time that the United States reached out to North Korea to try and talk to them.
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I think you know that that was during the Trump administration. But we have made clear since the beginning of this administration that we’re open to dialogue with the Government of DPRK. They just need to accept that openness.
QUESTION: Ambassador, finally from me. Rarely from me a good news question, but possibly this is good news. The news coming out in Pretoria, those talks on Ethiopia. There seems to be a cessation of hostilities. Can we get your reaction?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I am delighted to hear that these talks have led to a cessation of hostilities. This is an important movement. Because what it means is that lives will be saved. We don’t know what the next steps are. But we support the efforts of South Africa, Kenya, and the AU, as well as the UN, to find a way forward to end this horrific war in Ethiopia.