Foreign Policy

Biden’s UN choice places collectively a staff of overseas coverage veterans

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, President Joe Biden’s candidate for US Ambassador to the United Nations, has set up a team of foreign policy veterans with extensive experience in the United Nations, in a move away from the Trump administration, which largely occupied the mission with political representatives. Matters put together had limited experience in global diplomacy.

The acting United Nations Chargé d’Affaires Richard M. Mills will continue to be Thomas-Greenfield’s number 2 at least during the transition of the new ambassador. Jeffrey DeLaurentis, the former top US diplomat in Cuba, has been appointed acting US ambassador for special political affairs, a position he previously held during the Obama administration. He is likely to help Thomas Greenfield transition to her new role but will only be there temporarily. Jennifer Davis will serve as Thomas-Greenfield’s chief of staff. And Olivia Dalton, who led communications for the Biden-Harris Transition Confirmation Team, will serve as the U.S. mission for the United Nations General Manager and Director of Communications.

The new appointments are included on a foreign policy-reviewed internal list of approximately 19 political and professional officials who will serve in the US Mission’s executive office to the United Nations and the ambassador’s office in Washington, DC. Some of the nominees were announced by the mission Tuesday morning to signal that the United States would begin work before Thomas-Greenfield stands before their Senate hearing on Wednesday for confirmation.

“These appointments, most of whom were sworn in on the day of inauguration, reflect the commitment of President Biden and Vice President Harris to build a talented, experienced, and diverse administration that looks like America and is ready to take the first step to make, “the president said on a mission statement.

The US mission has already made public statements at the United Nations in a more conciliatory tone than the team from the Trump era. Rodney Hunter, the US policy coordinator, spoke to the UN Security Council on Monday, assuring governments that the United States has a duty to participate in international efforts to combat the coronavirus and support wider global access to vaccines. He also praised the World Health Organization, which persistently attacked the Trump administration for failing to confront China more strongly as the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic spread to the rest of the world. “WHO must play a central role in our joint response to this pandemic,” Hunter said.

“As a WHO Member State, the United States will work closely with all of you to ensure that WHO is strengthened and adequately reformed to not only meet this current challenge, but also effectively address other challenges ahead.”

Thomas-Greenfield, a veteran former professional diplomat who served as Africa’s chief envoy during the Obama administration, is due to appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for a nomination hearing on Wednesday. Congressional assistants told foreign policy that they could go through their confirmation process with bilateral support and start their posts in New York as early as next month, depending on the Senate’s schedule.

Jeffrey Prescott, the new US Ambassador to Washington Vice-President, will lead Thomas-Greenfield’s Washington office, where he will be responsible for interacting with Congress and serving as the ambassador’s representative at vicarious level meetings. Prescott held several national security posts during the Obama administration, including the director of the National Security Council for Iran, Iraq, Syria and the Persian Gulf and the vice president’s deputy national security advisor, then Biden.

The team at the US Ambassador to Washington also includes Andrew Miller, Lesley Anne Warner, Jennifer Hendrixson White and Paula Garcia Tufro. Miller is a Middle East Specialist and a former NSC employee during the Obama administration. Warner is a seasoned African affairs professional who served as a professional on the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) for Democrats and received his PhD from King’s College, London. Hendrixson-White, another HFAC employee, is an East Asia agency and Tufro is an expert on Latin American issues.

The list includes a number of officials who previously served in the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, including Kelly Razzouk, a former mission officer who recently served on the International Refugee Committee, and Mike Pan, who is the acting Senior Policy Adviser He was held under the former US Ambassador to the United Nations. He is expected to serve in this role temporarily.

Aditi Gorur, a UN peacekeeping expert who until recently served as a senior officer and director of the program for the protection of civilians in conflict at the Stimson Center, was due to begin his work as political advisor to the mission on Monday. Laurence Pevsner, whose Twitter bio describes him as a speechwriter and strategist and a former member of the West Wing Writers, will serve as speechwriter.

Others include Sohini Chatterjee, an expert on global development, conflict and mass atrocities who previously worked in the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Policy, Planning and Learning and will serve as senior policy advisor. Zach Vertin, expert on multilateral diplomacy, conflict, mediation and political transition with a focus on the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa; Jasmine Wyatt, who served as legislative and policy analyst for oversight and investigations on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and will serve as special assistant; and Amber McIntyre, who served on the transition to the Biden State Department and was named Director of Operations.

Several career officials were also on the list, including Philip Young, Carly Bainbridge, Elisa Berisso, and Faith Kroeker-Maus. It is still unclear who will fill a number of key posts, including the US representative to the UN Economic and Social Council and the US ambassador for UN management and reform.

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