losangelesnewstoday.com
losangelesnewstoday.com October 21, 2017


U.S. withdraws from UNESCO

13 October 2017, 12:27 | Katrina Lee

Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization logo is at UNESCO's headquarters in Paris France. Francois Mori AP

Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization logo is at UNESCO's headquarters in Paris France

As well as accusing UNESCO of bias, the U.S. state department said it was also concerned about mounting financial arrears at the agency and said it should be reformed.

Earlier on Thursday, the United States formally notified the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) that it would withdraw from the organization on December 31, 2018.

While the Trump administration had been preparing for a likely withdrawal from UNESCO for months, the timing of the State Department's statement Thursday was unexpected.

The head of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, voiced "profound regret" over the decision, calling it a "loss to multilateralism".

"We deeply regret that the United States made a decision to leave UNESCO", the communique said.

And past year, Israel suspended cooperation with it after the agency adopted a controversial resolution which made no reference to Jewish ties to a key holy site in Jerusalem.

At the time, Netanyahu said the "absurd" vote denied the Jewish connection to the city.

Netanyahu called the U.S. withdrawal "brave and moral", adding that UNESCO, "distorts" history instead of preserving it.

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UNESCO chief Bokova defended her agency's reputation, noting its efforts to support Holocaust education and train teachers to fight anti-Semitism — and saying that the Statue of Liberty is among the many World Heritage sites protected by the United Nations agency.

In 2011, the United States stopped funding Unesco due to what was then a forgotten, 15-year-old amendment mandating a complete cutoff of American financing to any United Nations agency that accepts Palestine as a full member.

She paid tribute to what she said had been a meaningful relationship between UNESCO and the U.S., saying: "since 2011, we have deepened the partnership between the United States and UNESCO, which has never been so meaningful".

It's not the first time the US has pulled out of UNESCO: Washington did the same thing in the 1980s because it viewed the agency as mismanaged, corrupt and used to advance Soviet interests.

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.

The United Nation's education, cultural and scientific agency has passed several resolutions against Israel.

UNESCO's executive board plans to select her successor Friday in a secret ballot.

Citing lines in UNESCO's 1945 Constitution by US Librarian of Congress Archibald MacLeish - "since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed" ¬- she said this vision has never been more relevant, and added that the US helped inspire the 1972 UNESCO World Heritage Convention. The Reagan administration withdrew from the organisation in 1984 - accusing the agency of corruption and an ideological bias towards the then Soviet Union - but the United States rejoined in 2002.



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