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U.S. Takes Presidency of UN Security Council - Goal: Push Russia To Do ‘Right Thing’ on Hunger

By Mara Lafontaine · August 2, 2023

In brief…

  • The U.S. will has assumed the presidency of the United Nations Security Council for August.
  • The forcus for UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield is food insecurity.
  • Russia's withdrawal from the Black Sea grain deal has undermined the global food supply chain.
  • Despite Russia's veto power, the U.S. is pressing Russia to rejoin the grain deal.
  • Close to 60 natons signed on to supoort America's efforts on food insecurity.
Convincing Russia to return to the Ukraine grain deal will be a major focus as U.S. takes presidency of UN Security Council.  Per Krohg / CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The United States has assumed the presidency of the United Nations Security Council for the month of August. The presidency, which changes hands every month among the 15 council members, sets the Council’s monthly agenda, explained U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

The U.S. has chosen to prioritize hunger and food insecurity, urgent issues that have been exacerbated by Russia’s sudden withdrawal last month from the Black Sea grain agreement. The deal had allowed the safe passage of grain from war-torn Ukraine - one of the world’s breadbaskets - into the global food supply. Impoverished regions of Africa depend on Ukrainian grain, meaning Russia’s aggressive move could ultimately push millions into hunger and forced migration.

“What we are doing during our month as president of the Security Council is bringing food security to the top of the agenda,” Thomas-Greenfield told NPR. “And we actually made the decision to do this before Russia pulled out of the grain deal. In fact, this is the third time that I have brought food insecurity in front of the Council… It really is a moral issue that we believe the Security Council has to pay attention to. It’s about international peace and security.”

Despite the challenges posed by Russia’s veto power on the Council., Thomas-Greenfield voiced optimism that through ongoing negotiations, along with support from Turkey - a key player in the region - Russia, she hopes, will rejoin the Black Sea Grain Initiative. She also intends to use her Council presidency to ensure that Syria receives food assistance in the aftermath of Russia’s veto, also last month, of a resolution that would have extended U.N. aid to Syria into early 2024. 

According to Thomas-Greenfield, “We’ve gotten about 60 countries to sign on to our statement supporting the efforts to really focus our attention on this issue and work to end famine. There are regions around the world where we’re still seeing famine-like conditions — in the Horn of Africa, for example. And this is not something that the U.S. can address alone. So, this is our effort to bring others into trying to find a solution.”

In short, said Thomas-Greenfield, her Council presidency is focused on “pushing Russia… encouraging Russia, urging Russia to do the right thing.”