United States withdraws from UNESCO

VN exits race for UNESCO chief position

The US has a long history of contradictions with UNESCO, an global body that is aimed at promoting a respect for the rule of law and human rights through cultural and scientific collaboration.

The State Department says its decision came down to debts and the need for reform in the agency.

She recalled that in 2011, after the suspension of Washington's financial participation in the organization, she said that "UNESCO has never been more important to the United States, and the United States has never been so important to UNESCO".

America has chose to withdraw from Unesco, the United Nations programme responsible for corralling worldwide cooperation on issues such as science and education and designating world heritage sites.

"This decision was not taken lightly, and reflects USA concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO", she added.

The agency is in the process of choosing a new leader, with Qatari and French former ministers Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari and Audrey Azoulay neck-and-neck in the contest to replace Ms Bokova.

Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, also praised Washington's move as heralding "a new day at the U.N., where there is a price to pay for discrimination against Israel".




The country plans to become "a non-member observer state in order to contribute U.S. views, perspectives and expertise on some of the important issues undertaken by the organization, including the protection of world heritage, advocating for press freedoms, and promoting scientific collaboration and education".

"At the time when conflicts continue to tear apart societies across the world, it is deeply regrettable for the United States to withdraw from the United Nations agency promoting education for peace and protecting culture under attack", she said.

In a statement released via her official Twitter handle, Bokova called the withdrawal "a loss to UNESCO". The department also voiced concerns about an anti-Israel bias at UNESCO.

But in addition to the decision to admit the Palestinians in 2011, it has been the scene of repeated diplomatic flare-ups after Arab countries succeeded in passing a number of resolutions critical of Israel.

The resolution also criticised Israel's activities at holy places in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank. "Ideally, it steers it in way that US interests and UNESCO's mandate will converge".

According to economist Jeffrey David Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, the decision was made "because UNESCO promotes science, education, culture".

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